Dinosaur Jr.

Beyond (Fat Possum)

Forget the Foo Fighters—the true champ when it comes to blending melody and mayhem is a tumultuous trio known as Dinosaur Jr. These prototypical hard-core heroes were making heads bop and torsos flail back when Dave Grohl was still taking his cues from Kurt Cobain. The group's bassist, Lou Barlow, and guitarist, J Mascis, had a nasty parting of ways in 1989, leaving Mascis to carry the group's banner before he eventually split for a solo career. So it's significant that Mascis, Barlow and drummer Murph have managed to cut through their crap and regroup for their latest album, Beyond, which is as riveting and down-to-earth as their early recordings. They're also smart enough this time to leave their formula for success unchanged. Much of the music is packed with a searing assault of guitar work that's both aggressive and compelling. The songs "Almost Ready," "This Is All I Came to Do" and "What If I Knew" are served up as sweeping anthems of pent-up angst and ragged refrains. There's some respite in the acoustic underpinnings of "We're Not Alone" and "I Got Lost"—the former ignited by a typically unhinged Mascis solo, the latter a mellow blend of cello and falsetto—but the edge remains intact. And now that Dinosaur Jr. is no longer extinct, it seems capable of making a mighty roar.

 
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