Dinosaur Jr’s sophomore album ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ serves as a very personal narrative for a group at the point of implosion. The title, derived from a sentence frontman and guitarist J. Mascis uttered whilst in their cramped tour van, summarises the group tensions and foretells of the subsequent fallouts which lead to their initial break-up. Despite the strained relationships between the three-piece consisting of J, bass player Lou Barlow and drummer Murph, their concentrated energy played out in their favour on record; they somehow managed to create one of the most captivating, seminal and flat-out brilliant indie rock albums of all time.
Released in 1987 (yet sounding incredibly nineties) and featuring a dizzying mixture of genres, influences and sounds, ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ is essentially a mixture of Neil Young and Crazy Horse jams, Black Sabbath influenced heavy guitar riffs and the ferocity of hardcore punk (possibly inherited from Mascis and Barlow’s days in raucous punk band Deep Wound). The group has always been difficult to pinpoint stylistically, often put into the noise rock, alternative rock and lo-fi indie camps in addition to being a clear precursor to the grunge phenomena.
The first few notes of ‘Little Fury Things’ showcase the extensive use of distortion and feedback which endure for the majority of the album, bar a few dynamic shifts. It’s raucous, immediate, driven and rough around the edges yet the song-writing is conveyed with effortless genius. Although he’d be the first to deny it, Mascis is a truly original guitar hero: he tests the anti-rockist indie kids with seventies rock influenced solos played so excessively they border on shredding however the immediacy of the earth shattering sound Dinosaur Jr. employ eliminates any notion of self-indulgence. There’s the huge noise rock slab of ‘Sludgefeast’ and psychedelic wall-of-noise freak-outs in ‘Tarpit’, whilst ‘The Lung’ swerves and manoeuvres into each of its various sections with ease. ‘Lose’ and ‘Poledo’ are two consecutive Lou Barlow fronted tracks that couldn’t be further apart in sound. The former highlights the melodic hooks and emotive vocal delivery which pre-empted Barlow’s next group Sebadoh whilst the latter is a mish-mash of morbid low-fi folk (performed on a ukulele) and an unnerving sound collage. Contrasting to the loud, noisy approach, ‘Poledo’ leads the album out on a bizarre cinematic high.
It’s incredibly difficult to comprehend how the indie and alternative rock landscapes would look and sound if it wasn’t for ‘You’re Living All Over Me’. Nirvana were hugely influenced by the group, with Kurt Cobain even asking Mascis to join on several occasions. Despite Nirvana’s loud-quiet-loud method, Dinosaur Jr. are loud-loud-louder, rarely does the record crack in its assertive noise rock self-righteousness. Additionally, their ability to painlessly blend pop melody with ear-splitting distortion and floaty, below-the-mix vocals paved way for the aural template of shoegaze. The group became a huge influence to My Bloody Valentine whom they would later share stages with.
‘You’re Living All Over Me’ is a collection of slacker rock anthems delivered with an anxious hunger to create music despite strained relationships. The noise, the fuzz, the melodies and the guitars scream for attention, all falling into place to sound like a collection of perfectly immediate garage jams. Those merely stating Dinosaur Jr. as a group whose sole position in popular music history is for paving way for grunge are understating this albums significance, importance and brilliance; it deserves to be included amongst indie classics such as Pavement’s ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’, The Pixies ‘Doolittle’, and Sonic Youth’s ‘Daydream Nation’.
Dinosaur Jr.’s 11th studio album ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ is out via Jagjaguwar on August 5th. They will also embark on a UK tour, dates below:
14th November Bristol, England – Motion
15th November Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street
17th November Glasgow, Scotland – ABC1
18th November London, England – Forum
19 November Manchester, England – Albert Hall
This Dinosaur Jr. article was written by Thomas Woodward-Massey, a GIGsoup contributor