February 27, 2015

Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me (1987)

A significant percentage of the alternative community in the early 80s had a fascination with no wave music. Artists like Sonic Youth, Swans, and Lydia Lunch focused on a certain deconstruction of music in response to the commercially blooming new wave scene. These groups usually explored barren, heavy, and unsettling soundscapes and made it a point to reject common musical guidelines. At the same time post-hardcore and related genres were getting noisier, fuzzier, and more intense as well.

Dinosaur Jr kicked all of that back out the window with You're Living All Over Me. The album is loud and noisy, but within the sea of chaos one can recognize melodies, chord progressions, and revived guitar solos. You're Living All Over me pushed Sonic Youth to craft Daydream Nation with the same kind of structure in mind, the poppy noise also influenced Doolittle, and the messy aesthetic can be traced to Pavement.

The first seven songs are stroke of genius from Mascis; who transcends contradictions and genre classifications. Even though this record sounds like a mess, it was very thought out and well put together. The distortion, overdubs, drumming mix, and solos are meticulously placed for the ultimate result, musically and contextually. Some stunning moments include; the solo on Kracked, how the solo on Kracked stops abruptly and the bass keeps chugging, how the heavy distortion returns for the end of Little Fury Things, how J gets it to sound like his guitar's tubes blow out at the end of his solo on Raisans, the punky riff at the end of the stunning Sludgefeast. Listen for all of these moments and more.

Then there are the Lou Barlow songs. This stuff is a tremendous deviation from what Mascis wanted and loses all the momentum the band had built up, especially after coming off the heels of the album defining track, In A Jar. While they aren't bad songs for what they are, I'm glad they are back to back and at the end of the album since they don't really disrupt anything, but then again there is no real concluding message for such a strong musical statement the first tracks made.

A super influential and pretty much perfect album that might take a few listens in the right mood to fully appreciate. Also, make sure you grab the 1989 version with The Cure cover, Just Like Heaven, because that's amazing.


You're Living All Over Me