In Analogs, we’ll be taking a look at two records that share some interesting parallels to an album out that week. Whether it be an album from 50 years back that bears some quiet influence, or an under-appreciated record from last week, if you like the record in question, you’re sure to like its Analogs.
This week we’re looking at analogs to I Bet On Sky by Dinosaur Jr., but make sure to check out our full review later in the week
Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II
Dinosaur Jr.’s “Best Of” album is titled Ear-Bleeding Country, an apt descriptor that could be used just as fittingly for much of what Dino’s former labelmates The Meat Puppets have done. Dubbed “cowpunk” but traversing everything from hardcore to psychedelia to country, they were one of the few early bands on SST to open the hardcore scene to new musical ideas, and as such, were key in paving the way for Dino Jr.’s breakthrough. Meat Puppets II is their opus, combining distorted country affectations with plodding bass, slacker vocals, and trebly, frenetic guitar playing akin to SST cohorts The Minutemen. But while Dinosaur Jr. use sheer, crushing guitar noise to channel blues and country in an easily digestible form for indie rock audiences, The Meat Puppets’ country affectations are much less obscured. Meat Puppets II has a few acoustic songs, and even the faster paced songs, such as “Lost,” retain rootsy elements like countrified, storytelling lyrics; all while being played with the same vigor as the hardcore bands that surrounded them. Meat Puppets II may not resemble I Bet On Sky so much on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that The Meat Puppets also cover many of the outside elements that Dinosaur Jr. are so adept at adapting to an indie rock context.
Swearin’ – Swearin’
It’s not tough to find a torchbearer for Dinosaur Jr.’s particular brand of distinctly 90s indie rock. The rebirth of guitar heroics, the navel-gazing mumbly lyrics, the Big Muff Pi. It’s a tradition upheld by last year’s Yuck album, and in a less evident and more heavily caffeinated form on Swearin’s 2012 debut. Featuring one of the Crutchfield sisters (of the now dissolved PS Eliot), Swearin’ deals heavily in 90s indie rock signifiers, not the least of which is J Mascis’s fuzz-laden guitar work. Though swaggering of “Hundreds and Thousands” holds closer to Lou Barlow’s rollicking contributions to the Dinosaur Jr. canon (particularly “Rude” from I Bet On Sky) there’s moments that directly recall Mascis’s unique flailing, not the least of which being the searing guitar melodies on “Crashing.” I mean yeah, when it comes down to it, Swearin’ is really more of a pop-punk band steeped in the tradition of Superchunk, but for a few brief moments stringing together the shouted choruses, the solo that’s unleashed is pure Mascis. Choppier and sloppier than Dinosaur Jr., sure, but without Mascis’ chops the guitar work on this record has few notable referents.