Story by Tony BonyataBefore Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and the premature extinction of Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. was churning out some of fuzziest, dirty sludge-rock this side of the Ice Age. Now thirteen years and seven releases later J.Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.'s singer, songwriter and guitar virtuoso) has released Hand It Over, a loud, fast and, at times, engaging collection of well-crafted songs.
Mascis has cleaned up the production on this effort and by doing so he loses some of the elements that gave grunge rock it's name(a genre he helped create in the middle eighties, along with bands Sonic Youth and Nirvana). Loud, fuzzy distorted guitars, muddy mixes and alienated lyrics for 'Generation X' defined this sound for slackers. One thing Mascis has not lost, however, is the ability to not only write catchy melodies with monster hooks in them, but to prove that he could be, as a guitarist, the heir apparent to the godfather of grunge, Neil Young.
While Mascis isn't covering any new ground here, most of the songs on Hand It Over sound as if they could have easily come from Dinosaur Jr.'s last two releases (Where You Been and Without A Sound), he does manage to pull a few tricks out of his hat just to keep things interesting. "Never Bought It" introduces a melancholy flute throughout. The raucous "I'm Insane" is lightened up by a merry Sgt. Peppery piccolo trumpet, while "Gettin Rough" finds Mascis' finger-pickin' banjo a down-home welcome to his whiny, love it or hate it, voice.
Although a fine collection of songs, at least from an innovative perspective, Mascis seems to sum it up best in song three, "Nothin's really going on".
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