CD Review of Farm by Dinosaur Jr
Dinosaur Jr: Farm
Recommended if you like
The Pixies, Neil Young, Meat Puppets
Label
Jagjaguwar
Dinosaur Jr: Farm

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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A
bout the only thing more surprising than Dinosaur Jr.'s unexpected reunion in 2005 was that it completely worked. Not only did the reunion shows prove that J Mascis, Murph and Lou Barlow still had what it takes to play the old stuff live, they even went back to the studio to record a new album. That album was Beyond, the band's first record with the original lineup in nearly 20 years – and it totally kicked ass, picking up right where Bug left off with pop-friendly, distortion-heavy rock songs that are just as catchy and timeless as classic cuts like "Freak Scene." Now just two years removed from that triumph, the trio is back again with Farm, another stunning showcase for the band, proving that Beyond wasn't a fluke and that, 24 years after their debut, they still have plenty of rocking left to do.

Dinosaur Jr. have always been an enigma in alternative rock. They're one part Sabbath and one part Neil Young, one part Beach Boys and one part Motorhead. The Pixies and Nirvana have nothing on their quiet-loud-quiet dynamic, which might have Mascis starting with a twangy country guitar riff before devolving it into pure feedback-drenched insanity. This was true in 1987, with You're Living All Over Me, and it's still true with Beyond. About the only change that Farm sees is that the band seems more willing to let the music speak for itself with some extended solos, and even some jamming. "Plans" begins as a quiet, country-tinged love song, but for the choruses J Mascis turns up his amp and lets loose with some serious shredding. The same goes for "Said the People," a seven-minute epic with hints of ‘70s-influenced country rock and a slow-hand guitar solo that takes up the middle-third of the song.

But if you're looking for the classic, undefinable Dinosaur Jr. sound, don't fret, because most of Farm doesn't stray far from it. Tracks like the opener, "I Want You to Know," and the slamming "There's No Here" (which opens with a jaw-dropping Mascis solo) would fit side-by-side with the best of their classic albums in terms of both quality and style. And even when they take a chance and branch out, they can't seem to do any wrong. "See You" is a country-style ballad that sticks out like a sore thumb but manages to work thanks to a quietly beautiful riff. "Over It" is an unapologetic pop song with a radio-friendly chorus and memorable hook that'll leave you humming for days. Then there's "Imagination Blind," a psychedelic freak-out of a finale that combines Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd with about two tons of feedback and excessive volume (the two Dinosaur Jr. trademarks that thread through every song on Farm). No matter what they try, they seem to make it work. Here's hoping for a death metal track on the next record.

Dinosaur Jr. are firing on all cylinders – 20 years removed from what's considered to be their artistic peak, and better than ever. Maybe J Mascis, Murph and Barlow have found the fountain of youth in their endless collection of distortion effects and amps.

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