By Noah Lopez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Without A Sound
How the mighty have fallen. J Mascis has taken Dinosaur Jr. into a seemingly inescapable musical downspin, sacrificing musical quality for musical expansion.
J Mascis has been trying to expand the Dinosaur Jr. sound since their Sire debut Green Mind, alternating ballads with the patented Dino fuzz pop anthems. However, as with last year's weak outing Where You Been, Without A Sound finds Dinosaur Jr. cranking out hollow remnants of their past glory days.
Without A Sound also declares what many already know: J Mascis is Dinosaur Jr.. Bassist Lou Barlow left Dinosaur years ago, going on to much greener pastures with Sebadoh, and drummer Murph has really only had a flirting existence on the past few releases. But Without A Sound is Mascis, with Mike Johnson filling in quietly on bass. This leaves Mascis doing just about everything else, including all songwriting.
As far as the songs on Without A Sound go, it would seem that Mascis' once virulent well has gone dry. There are chunks of the new album that are utterly boring, with four or five songs seeming to blend together in one undistinguishable mess. Among these, "I Don't Think So"; "Yeah, Right"; and "Grab It" try to recapture some of the fantastic pop hookery that made earlier albums You're Living All Over Me and Green Mind great, but it rings false. "Yeah, Right" in particular, has a crunchy sound that starts to work, but ends up as plodding and boring as the rest.
Opening track and first single "Feel the Pain" has a healthy share of Dinosaur appeal, but the lack of distortion on most of the song leaves the listener aching for the Youngesque guitar firepower of other efforts.
It's sad when a once mighty band resorts to putting out material such as this, a poor follow-up to last year's terrible misstep.
Head to Toe
On a more positive J Mascis note, the new Mascis produced EP for the Breeders is absolutely amazing.
The four track EP has the Breeders continuing to be the best free publicity agents that Guided By Voices could get, covering "Shocker in Gloomtown" quite capably.
"Freed Pig," one of this reviewer's favorite Sebadoh tracks, is wonderfully covered here also, but the shining moments come in the Breeders more punk inspired "Head to Toe" and an unnamed track.
This hip EP is available only on 10 inch vinyl right now, but its worth dusting off the phonograph for. Seek it out now.
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