You might assume that a band featuring Fu Manchu’s Brad Davis on various musical duties would take a stoner rock route, but his Gods of Sometimes – a duo formed with similarly multi-faced studio hand Andrew Gukamakis – paints a much broader musical canvas. Their self-titled album has a hazy desert rock air in a couple of places, but the bulk of the material shouldn’t just be pigeonholed as such. Nor is it an easy love letter to an alternative rock past; there are elements within the arrangements that call back a much earlier time, whilst still sounding relevant at the time of recording.
As co-leader of Dinosaur Jr and a reluctant figurehead for the slacker movement, Joseph Donald Mascis, Jr. became a hero to a generation. In the early mid-90s his band became favourites of MTV’s 120 Minutes, were fixtures on the festival circuit and were even booked for a live in-studio performance for the BBC arts review, The Late Show. During the first part of their career, Dinosaur Jr were a vital part of the alternative music scene; in their reconvened state and with great albums like ‘I Bet On Sky’ (2012), they continued to provide a huge influence over many bands where the distortion pedal reigns.
Given how much love has been lavished upon Dinosaur Jr over the decades, it’s strange how J’s solo catalogue has barely been afforded such high praise. Far fewer people have taken time to appreciate his ‘Songs For Amma’, his albums with The Fog or the one man acoustic works that have previously circulated. His extra curricular output has been met with such an indifference (by comparison) that even his classic ‘Martin + Me’ live recording failed to get a full UK release back in 1996.
A three disc package, ‘Fed Up and Feeling Strange (Live and In Person 1992-1998)’ reissues the ‘Live At CBGB’s’ and ‘Martin + Me’ discs along with a Swedish date from 1988. The box set is great news for Mascis fans as it boasts fifteen unreleased performances.
There have been various Dinosaur Jr. reissues over the years – most notably the Rhino CDs from 2010 – but none that have served the band especially well in the age of deluxe editions and lavish box sets for legacy artists. The Rhino reissues were a step in the right direction with each featuring a smattering of bonus materials (save for ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ which managed to be a potential downgrade from the earlier SST CD), but those still didn’t give the big fans too much in terms of unreleased materials or rarities. Luckily, the 2019 campaign from Cherry Red Records puts that right. The period between 1990 and 1997 presents their most commercially successful, but with that came four great albums, an archive of unheard live material and a lot of other stuff that deserves to be shared.
The band’s albums following Lou Barlow’s departure and running from 1991’s ‘Green Mind’ to 1997’s ‘Hand It Over’ represents the band’s most commercial period. At their peak, the band cracked the UK top 40 singles chart with ‘Start Choppin’ and ‘Feel The Pain’, the latter becoming a staple for alternative compilations for a time.