Preview: Dinosaur Jr – Sweep It Into Space

The world has changed a lot since 1985. Music has changed a lot since 1985. One thing that never changes much is Dinosaur Jr…..and that’s just fine by me.

Ever since they recorded their self-titled debut “Dinosaur” (the “Jr” was added two years later to avoid legal issues) they have been at the forefront of the alternative rock scene.

With a scuzzy guitar rock sound that was ahead of their time they were playing “grunge” music before the phrase had yet been coined!

Indeed after performing on the same bill as Nirvana in New Jersey back in 1989 J Masics (frontman, guitar) recalls that Kurt Cobain told him, “you should join my band”. The story goes that Cobain was losing patience with second guitarist Jason Everman and was looking for a replacement to record their upcoming sophomore album “Nevermind”. Mascis was approached by Nirvana again to play drums on “Sliver” as Nirvana began gathering popularity, however he again turned it down and Dave Grohl was recruited shortly afterwards.

In the meantime Mascis, and Murph (drums) were themselves looking for new members following the departure of bassist Lou Barlow. By the time they released their iconic 4th album “Green Mind” in 1991 J Mascis was totally in charge, playing guitar, bass and drums himself on the majority of tracks.

The tumultuous relationship between band members continued until 1997 when finally the band split up and went their separate ways. Dinosaur Jr were no more!

J Mascis in particular was far from idle over those years. Indeed over the course of the last 30 years the man has given us 10 Dinosaur Jr Albums, 5 Solo Albums and 2 albums with “J Mascis and the Fog”. He also lends his handy guitar skills to a huge number of tracks from other artists. So many, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to account for all of them. But 50+ would likely be a low estimation. My personal favourite is his shredding on Strand of Oaks’ masterful 2014 single “Goshen 97”.

In 2007 the band, now older, wiser and seemingly a lot more tolerant of one another, reformed and have since released 4 more excellent albums. These days their sound is no longer one that is driving the alternative rock scene forward. But rather they are a reminder of the days where crashing guitars, excellent hooks and music with meaning was more important than perfectly produced and presented “radio rock” that dominates the charts in the 21st century.

Next month sees their 5th album release since they reformed with “Sweep It Into Space” hitting record stores on 23rd April. Co-Produced by Kurt Vile up until lockdown hit Massachusetts in March 2020. The final production was therefore taken care of by J Mascis by himself, which I think probably suited him just fine!

Dinosaur Jr - Sweep It Into Space

In describing the album and its sound J Mascis explains that he had been listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy and was trying to “get some of that duelling twin lead sound”.

Will Sweep It Into Space have an impact on the charts? No.

Will it change the direction of the alt-rock music scene? No.

Will it Rock? You bet it will!!

I for one am really looking forward to it, and I have already got my pre order in for the “Purple Ripple” AND the “Purple Blast” variants from Boiler Room Records.

Steve King

April 2021

Follow Steve on Instagram: @newforestvinyl