|Dinosaur Jr. Ranked|
As I was gearing up for their 12th studio album, I did the ranking exercise with Dinosaur Jr.. It's a tough catalog to rank. Since a lot of stuff sounds so a like I tried narrowing it down to three eras. The original-era, the J-era, and the reunion-era. Here's what I came up with
Without a Sound
I don’t think much of Without a Sound. The band gets nothing new going on their sixth record. I guess that’s kind of the shtick with Dinosaur overall, but this time around the songwriting is bland and at its worst.
Hand It Over
Hand It Over is fine, but far from being essential to Dinosaur’s catalog. The songwriting is a step up on Without A Sound but the 10-year hiatus and original lineup reunion that follows this record was very much needed. The music had gotten pretty stale and uninteresting at this point.
As members of Deep Wound branch out from their Hardcore roots, they offer a series songs that show signs of great things to come. That said, Dinosaur’s debut as a whole is very scatterbrain and awkward. It only feels somewhat essential today given the band’s longevity and success that followed it. Rarely does a song not have a freakish transition to send it off the rails. Sometimes is works. Most often it doesn’t.
Sweep It Into Space
It shouldn’t boil down to highlights, but in ranking a catalog of similar sounding albums it became my dealbreaker. I love Dinosaur’s stretch of post-reunion records but I’d be lying if I said they haven’t been recycling the same recipe on their last three efforts. As previously mentioned, I’m aware that’s the gig. This is a great album in that there are no bad songs on it, but there are also none that set it above the rest.
Where You Been
Right from the get-go Where Your Been is significantly more polished than anything we’ve heard from Dinosaur. It actually works quite well for them too. It’s tonally much tidier than Green Mind but very much like it, the repetitive songwriting can turn this album into a drag.
I Bet on Sky
This record opens with two of my favourite Dinosaur tracks, but the rest of the album sometimes leaves me wanting more. It’s lazy. That can be both a quirk or a criticism depending on the day I’m listening to it. When it hits the spot, it HITS the spot.
Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
I’d call this their most underrated album. It doesn’t quite reach the level of the early reunion material but it’s overlooked to say the least.
The first album after removing Lou from the fold feels less like a finished album and more like J trying to figure our what to do next with Dinosaur. I’d say this is their most polarizing album within the fanbase. I’m of the ones who love it for the rawness. Admittedly, it does sometimes suffer in how redundant it can be listening to it in full.
Bug is great. It’s also their “overrated” album. Its biggest flaw is how it collapses right before it ends leaving me very much not wanting to revisit it for a while. That said, I can’t discredit the rest of it being as good as it is. It’s just not my go-to Dinosaur record.
Beyond comes after a much needed break and reunites a more mature original lineup. It also turns out being their best record since You’re Living All Over Me. The musicianship here is at its best and that only progressed as they stuck together.
I find Farm to be the album that best summarizes the entirety of Dinosaur Jr.. It has its high energy moments but the band finds themselves dialing it down more often than usual to let their country influences show. There’s an overall feeling on this record that things have finally fallen into place. It only took 15 years.
You're Living All Over Me
The band’s sophomore album is stellar from front to back. It's a significant step up from their debut album and although they're very much a different band now, the record is still widely regarded as the band's best and is heavily relied on on the road.