Fronted by singer-songwriter/guitarist J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr. formed in Massachusetts in 1984. Their emergence was a musical shot heard round the world as Mascis and company put the heroics of lead guitar back into the forefront of the indie rock realm-amazingly, it was a revolutionary idea at the time. Post-punk and pre-grunge, they were an intense force to be reckoned with, and when the band signed to Sire in '91, Mascis' shreddingly unique alt-rock sound was cranked up for vast new audiences of eardrums. Dinosaur Jr's first two major label albums spotlight one of the most distinctive and influential artists of the '90s in prime form.
By the time Where You Been surfaced, Seattle had completely exploded, and given that Dinosaur Jr.'s sound, attitude, and more were as proto-slacker as could be, the temptation must have been great to cash in. But J Mascis stuck to his guns, and there's little about Where You Been that would have seemed out of place on Green Mind or even some earlier records. Recorded with a full band throughout, Mike Johnson and Murph lay down does-the-job rhythm tracks while Mascis tackles almost everything else. Where You Been is occasionally moody and dark but otherwise is more rough fun. Opening track "Out There" is one of the most mournful things Mascis has recorded, with an especially yearning chorus, but his fiery solo still makes it classic Dinosaur Jr. "Start Choppin" immediately follows, its quick, catchy lead riff helping to make it as close to a radio hit as the band ever had -- and, of course, a big ol' solo or two adding to the fun of it all.
From there on in it's a pur ed blast of punk, classic rock, and more. It may be business as usual, but it's good business just the same, whether it's the gentle "Not the Same," on which Mascis does his best Neil Young impersonation, or the stuttering feedback snorts and rips on "Hide," on which he borrows a bit back from disciple Kevin Shields. Other highlights include "Get Me," a melancholic, steady cruncher with another trademark solo of the gods, and the unjustly ignored "What Else Is New," which sounds like a mid-'70s rock ballad with louder volume and none of the crud, right down to the concluding string section