Manic Productions Presents
85 Arch Street
Hartford, CT, 06103
This event is all ages
"I BET ON SKY"
There is nothing quite like a Dinosaur Jr. album. The best ones are always recognizable from the first notes. And even though J tries to trip us up by smearing "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" with keyboards, it's clear from the moment he starts his vocals that this is the one and only Dinosaur Jr., long reigning kings of Amherst, Massachusetts (and anywhere else they choose to hang their toques). I Bet on Sky is the third Dinosaur Jr. album since the original trio – J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph – reformed in 2005. And, crazily, it marks the band's 10th studio album since their debut on Homestead Records in 1985. Back in the '80s, if anyone has suggested that these guys would be performing and recording at such a high level 27 years later, they would have been laughed out of the tree fort. The trio's early shows were so full of sonic chaos, such a weird blend of aggression and catatonia that we all assumed they would flame out fast. But the joke was on us.The trio has taken everything they've learned from the various projects they tackled over the years, and poured it directly into their current mix. J's guitar approaches some of its most unhinged playing here, but there's a sense of instrumental control that matches the sweet murk of his vocals (not that he always remembers to exercise control on stage, but that's another milieu). This is headbobbing riff-romance at the apex. Lou's basswork shows a lot more melodicism now as well, although his two songs on I Bet on Sky retain the jagged rhythmic edge that has so often marked his work. And Murph…well, he still pounds the drums as hard and as strong as a pro wrestler, with deceptively simple structures that manage to interweave themselves perfectly with his bandmates' melodic explosions. After submerging myself in I Bet on Sky, it's clear that the album is a true and worthy addition to the Dinosaur Jr. discography. It hews close enough to rock formalism to please the squares. Yet it is brilliantly imprinted with the trio's magical equation, which is a gift to the rest of us. For a combo that began as anomalous fusion of hardcore punk and pop influences, Dinosaur Jr. have proven themselves to be unlikely masters of the long game. Their new album is a triumph of both form and function. And it augurs well for their future trajectory. If I were prone to wagering, I'd say their best days are yet ahead of them. And yeah. I would bet the sky on it.
It takes balls to let Purling Hiss get in your face. Their records are a half-corroded, screaming roar of high-end guitars crushed together, obliterating vocals and even drums with their singular assault. Well, if you've got balls, get ready to swing 'em. With Water On Mars, Purling Hiss have broken out of the basement, run through the bedroom and are out in the streets, blasting one of the great guitar albums in the past couple minutes.
It's a tumble of hits and ragers, sewing together nine new Purling Hiss celebration laments out of their usual patches of distortion, singing melodies and unexpected production hoohah—but this time the unexpected part is how the guitars gleam so precisely as they pile upon each other, how they work alongside of the rhythm section rather than avalanching it. And how the songs embody a variety of Hiss-teric moods, from the gutbusting bellow of "Lolita" and "Face Down" through the acoustic flatline of "Dead Again," the aromatic slide guitars and piano within "She Calms Me Down," the anthemish surge of "Rat Race" and the wailing march-jam, "Water On Mars."
Water On Mars is Purling Hiss's first recording outside the fuzzy confines of Mike Polizze's inner rock utopia, where the first three albums and EP were constructed in solitude with a home-recording setup. Over the past couple years, Mike's been working with a band and fine-tuning new songwriting ideas while playing shows all over the place. Now, Purling Hiss projects their sounds and ideas onto a new platform, with a visceral and soulful presence. Now there is a center to the Hiss maelstrom, with Polizze's guitars slugging, sizzling and spiraling their way around
the rhythm throb.
Polizze lyricises like a poet of the disaffected, shifting from aggro to slack and back over the course of a song; the production highlights the schiz by buffing the raw power into a streamlined blast, hitting down hard and covering a lot of ground in just over a half hour. Purling Hiss have a deeply satisfying way of drawing from the red, white and blue wells of 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s rock to inform their own sound, giving things a retro ring while doing what they do in the Philadelphia of today—and no other time could apply, really. Water On Mars is heavy stuff from Purling Hiss, unknotting the strings that tangled all their previous records together so righteously to reveal—another, greater storm within.