were largely responsible for returning lead guitar to indie rock and, along with their peers
, they injected late-'80s alternative rock with monumental levels of pure guitar noise. As the group's career progressed, it turned into a vehicle for
's albums into largely similar affairs. Over time,
, crafting simple songs that were delivered at a crushing volume and spiked with shards of feedback. Consequently,
-- don't sound particularly revolutionary, even with their subtle sonic innovations, yet their original '80s records for SST were a different matter. On their early records,
lurched forward, taking weird detours into free-form noise and melodic soloing before the songs are brought back into relief by
' laconic whine.
's SST records laid the foundation for alternative rock's commercial breakthrough in the early '90s, and while the band's profile was raised substantially in the wake of
's success, they never really became much bigger than highly respected cult figures.
(born Joseph D. Mascis
; guitar, vocal) formed Dinosaur Jr.
in Amherst, Massachusetts after his hardcore punk band Deep Wound
broke up in 1983. Hooking up with fellow high-school student Lou Barlow
initially played drums in Dinosaur
, but shortly afterward, former All White Jury
(born Emmett "Patrick" Murphy
) joined the group and J
moved to guitar. Over the next year the group developed a local following, and in 1985 the trio released its debut album, Dinosaur
, on the Homestead label. The record and the group's crushingly loud concerts developed a cult following over the next year. By the end of 1986, a hippie rock group called Dinosaur
-- featuring former members of Jefferson Airplane
and Country Joe & the Fish
-- sued the band, which changed its name to Dinosaur Jr.
In 1987, Dinosaur Jr.
signed to Black Flag
's indie label SST and released You're Living All Over Me
, which became an underground sensation, with groups like Sonic Youth
' wild, feedback-drenched guitar. Early in 1988 they released the seminal single "Freak Scene," a song that captured the feeling and tone of the emerging American post-punk underground. "Freak Scene" became a college radio hit, and it led the way for their acclaimed 1988 album, Bug
. Although the band's popularity continued to grow, tensions were developing between Mascis
, who rarely talked to each other. In 1989, Mascis
that the group was breaking up; the following day, he "re-formed" Dinosaur Jr.
, this time without Barlow
, who went on to form Sebadoh
, Dinosaur Jr.
relied on a rotating array of guest bassists, including Don Fleming
and the Screaming Trees
' Van Connor
. In 1989, the group had an underground hit with its non-LP cover of the Cure
's "Just Like Heaven." The following year, they signed with Sire Records. After "Just Like Heaven," Mascis
remained quiet for several years as he produced acts like Buffalo Tom
and collaborated with friends like Sonic Youth
's Velvet Monkeys
. Green Mind
's 1991 major-label debut, was recorded almost entirely alone by Mascis
, and its varied, eclectic sound was received poorly in many alternative rock circles. Before the Green Mind
tour, former Snakepit member Mike Johnson
became the group's full-time bassist. On the subsequent tour, Dinosaur Jr.
were supported by Nirvana
, whose success with Nevermind
soon overshadowed Dinosaur
Instead of capitalizing on the commercial breakthrough of alternative rock, Dinosaur
released an EP, Whatever's Cool with Me
, in early 1992 and disappeared to record their next album. Released early in 1993, Where You Been
benefited greatly from the commercial breakthrough of alternative rock, and many of the articles surrounding the album's release hailed Mascis
as an alternative godfather. It became the first Dinosaur
album to chart, peaking at number 50, and it generated the modern rock hit "Start Choppin." That summer, the group played on the third Lollapalooza tour. Mascis
recorded the band's next album without Murph
, who unceremoniously left the band; he later joined the Lemonheads
. Dinosaur Jr.
released Without a Sound
in 1994 to mixed reviews, but the album was a moderate hit, thanks to the MTV and modern rock hit "Feel the Pain." In the fall of 1995, Mascis
launched his first solo acoustic tour, which was captured on his first official solo album, Martin & Me
, released in the spring of 1996.
After contributing several Brian Wilson
-styled songs to Alison Anders' 1996 film Grace of My Heart
-- he also made an appearance in the movie -- Mascis
's next album on his own, leaving Johnson
to his solo career. Upon its spring 1997 release, Hand It Over
was hailed as Mascis
' best album in years, although it failed to generate a significant hit. By the late '90s, Mascis
decided to break up Dinosaur Jr.
and launch a solo career, resulting in the release of More Light
in 2000 (under the name of J Mascis + the Fog, a group that also featured former Minutemen
bassist Mike Watt
). The new group's ensuing tour was cut short in June of 2001, however, when its tour bus was involved in a serious accident in Sweden, resulting in Mascis
cracking two vertebrae. In the wake of their breakup, a pair of postmortem Dinosaur Jr.
collections saw the light of day in the early 21st century: 2000's live-in-the-studio BBC Sessions
and 2001's Ear-Bleeding Country: The Best Of
. In addition, the history of Dinosaur Jr.
's original lineup was documented in Michael Azerrad
's excellent 2001 book of '80s alt-rock pioneers, Our Band Could Be Your Life
In 2005 the first three albums were reissued on Merge and Mascis
announced that the original band would be reuniting for a short tour. A year later, Green Mind
and Where You Been
were reissued by Sire with bonus tracks, while Rhino released J Mascis Live at CBGB's
, a recording of an acoustic gig from 1993. To coincide with the 2006 reissues, the reunited band began a worldwide tour and announced plans to work on material for a new album, which surfaced in 2007 in the form of Beyond
. The reunion stuck, and the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr.
eventually releasing Farm
in 2009, followed by I Bet on Sky in 2012. The members of Dinosaur Jr.
spent the next four years pursuing solo projects -- J Mascis
released Tied to a Star in 2014, Lou Barlow
released Brace the Wave in 2015 -- and the group then returned in the summer of 2016 with Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.