photo & text by nacrowe
i am fully aware that in the pantheon of great DINOSAUR JR albums, WITHOUT A SOUND (SIRE, 1994) is not considered one of them. earlier records with the classic lineup (MURPH, LOU BARLOW, J MASCIS) like YOU'RE LIVING ALL OVER ME (SST, 1988) and BUG (SST, 1988) are probably the better starting point for new iniates into the swirling, explosive and strangely nuanced INDIE ROCK of this classic WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS band.
but this was my introduction to the band as a 4th grader. the BILL CLINTON-trolling "FEEL THE PAIN" was all over the local ALTERNATIVE ROCK station 106.7FM KROQ in nearby LOS ANGELES. i didnt see the accompanying ingenious SPIKE JONZE-directed music video until well into my 20s and the advent of YOUTUBE since as a child in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA we didnt have cable and therein MTV.
but i did have the "FEEL THE PAIN" shirt! it was patently offensive with a dude being graphically chocked out. in fact i still have it somewhere in storage more than 25 years later. it was originally my father's and i believe he got it at BLACK HOLE RECORDS in FULLERTON (which amazingly is still around).
if i'm being honest the initial appeal of that album as a kid was J MASCIS' voice. he had this carefree, almost insouciant delivery that really appealed to me. of course now i am aware of the through-line that the band represents that connects everything from HARDCORE and INDIE ROCK to even BLACK METAL with their previous incarnation as DEEP WOUND. given that this record was essentially a glorified J MASCIS solo record, there are several tracks that showcase his predilection for COUNTRY-fied licks and guitar textures in service to his idiosyncratic and effectively off-kilter melodic sense. specifically tracks like "OUTTA HAND," "BLAH" and "I DON'T THINK SO" come to mind. years later i attended a private school in WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS and became intimately aware of record and used bookstores in towns like AMHERST, NORTHAMPTON and GREENFIELD. i listen to their records now and they seem very much a part of that weird social landscape of HIPPIES mixed with TRUCKER culture.
so in conclusion i still very much love WITHOUT A SOUND but i admit that there are other DINOSAUR JR efforts i turn to first, especially those i listed along with WHERE YOU BEEN (SIRE, 1993), but thats what happens when you have a deep catalogue of influential and ever-inspiring original material.
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