This week's new releases come from two long-established acts in the alternative rock world. While Dinosaur Jr. has some years on Wye Oak, both have consistently delivered in their own corners of the genre. The latter act (a duo from Baltimore) continues to stretch its sound. The former (a well-known trio that has re-emerged stronger than ever) continues to pummel fans with greatness.
"Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not"
No one expected Dinosaur Jr. to come back better than ever when the band first reunited in 2007 for "Beyond." But the guys — J, Murph and Lou — did. Now, nearly 10 years removed from that restart, the trio has released another great record that is easily one of the band's best.
Casting aside the dirge and lengthy songs that made 2012's "I Bet On Sky" a tough slog, "Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not" is full of three- to four-minute songs with trademark guitar glory from J Mascis. And get this, rather than moan his way through another track, Mascis actually sings.
Outside of the two Lou Barlow-penned tracks, the band sounds reignited again. "Be A Part" might be the sweetest thing these guys have done. That megaton Marshall amp sound is still there, too, as evidenced by the "Tiny," "Goin Down," and even later on the sludgy "I Walk For Miles."
As they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dinosaur Jr. continues to be a force to be reckoned with in 2016. I don't think even the band members expected that.
After flirting with keyboard-laced pop songs on "Shriek" in 2014, Wye Oak surprise released in July another experimental album, "Tween." The album is physically released Friday.
"Tween" features eight tracks of songs that were scrapped between 2011-2014. If the band were as big as Radiohead, this wouldn't have to be packaged as some weird B-sides collection. With two more songs, it could be Wye Oak's "Kid A."
But that's the disappointing thing about Wye Oak. It's not that this is bad stuff. No, quite the contrary. It's that Wye Oak doesn't have the popularity of less interesting acts like Dan Deacon or Future Islands. Wye Oak continues to make good music. But because of our time, Wye Oak would have a better chance at success if the group danced like Carlton from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
It's a shame, because "Tween" is another document of a terribly underrated band mapping out its ever-growing soundscape. Maybe this time people will pay attention to what they're missing.