Dinosaur Jr – Farm

7 07 2009

I never really got good at skateboarding. You want to know why? It was because when I was in grade three, shortly after I got my first skateboard, some little Thrasher-reading shit I had a crush on told me that I was too ugly to skateboard. He had based his opinion on the photos he’d seen in his skate magazines, and I never touched a skateboard again.

It’s petty of me, sure, but as a result of that unfortunate nine-year-old’s experience, I’ve had a bit of a grudge against skateboarding, skateboarders, and skate “culture” generally. I’ve dated my share of skaters, but I’ve never gotten very interested in their skate music, their skate videos, or hanging out at the skate park. I don’t regret it, except that apparently, my personal vendetta caused me to completely miss the boat on a few bands I wish I’d gotten into at a younger age. I count Dinosaur Jr among them.

Apparently, Dinosaur Jr started releasing albums in 1985, when I was four years old, so I guess it’s not surprising I didn’t get in on the ground floor. They kept releasing albums fairly steadily until 1997, and then they took a ten-year break, returning in 2007 with the first Dinosaur Jr album I listened to regularly, Beyond. 2009 brings the arrival of Farm and also (at least temporarily) the demise of my music collection (RIP, friend). I will chalk the coincidence up to happy.

Like I said, I missed out on a lot of music growing up, so when it comes to albums like this, I’m not sure if I’m getting it right, but I will say that track five, Your Weather, is fucking great. It’s all echoey with pounding drums, and the guitar line doesn’t sound like a normal guitar line at all. It sounds like an awesome trombone line from Prokofiev. Actually, the whole album is pretty great. Some of the songs remind me almost uncomfortably of Pearl Jam (well, no, of Eddie Vedder – SORRY! I can’t help what triggers my traumatic memories!), but I guess it’s less that Dinosaur Jr sound like Pearl jam and more that Pearl Jam is one of the only bands who I listened to (or was forced to listen to) whose sound makes me feel nostalgic in a similar way, and I guess that’s what this album does.

Farm certainly doesn’t sound outdated, but it also certainly doesn’t sound like it’s from a band that formed in the last five years (or even ten years). Again, my frame of reference is flawed and stunted, but this album sounds like the kind of thing I wish I’d been listening to in junior high school to have supplemented my steady diet of Nirvana and Soundgarden. It’s got more maturity and more heart than either of those bands ever showed, and maybe it’s because it was written and recorded by old guys who have had the time to develop more than Kurt Cobain had in 1993; we’ll never know. The songs have the same sound that I remember hearing sometimes when I’d overhear what the older kids were listening to, but they’ve got a cadence and feel that seems more suited for where old-school Dinosaur Jr fans must be now: drinking a few too many beers and nursing their bad knees and bad backs.

Anyway, I’m rusty at this, so I’m going to quit now, but I recommend Farm if you’re in the mood for good guitar, good songwriting, and a bit of nostalgia.