Although these Massachusetts guitar-squallers were initially presented as a punkish proposition, they turned out to be a throwback – long-haired rockists who existed to showcase Joseph Mascis’s old-school fret-wankery.
His just-got-out-of-bed stage demeanour and can’t-be-arsed interview technique saw them dubbed a ‘slacker’ band, the forerunners of grunge miserabilism who were too lazy to reach for the shotgun.
Festering antipathy would periodically erupt between Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow, in fact, grapple fans can see live footage of Joseph trying to club Lou with his guitar in Sonic Youth‘s Teenage Riot video. Lou blocks it with his bass. J Mascis said in retrospect, that it “made a pretty cool sound”.
Barlow quit (or Mascis kicked him out, depending on who is telling the story) and formed the more rounded Sebadoh before it all got too like Neil Young on a major bummer. But not before he’d contributed to the band’s great punk-pop moment, the raucous and touching Freak Scene (1988).
Without Barlow, Dinosaur Jr relied on a rotating array of guest bassists. Their 1991 major-label debut, Green Mind, was effectively recorded alone by Mascis. The album was received poorly.
Vocals, guitar, drums
Guitar, bass, ukulele, vocals
Emmett (Patrick) “Murph” Murphy
Bass, guitar, vocals, mellotron