Dinosaur Jr. Dinosaur/You're Living All Over Me/Bug

The fact that Dinosaur Jr.’s debut album came out 20 years ago is almost as shocking as their decision to reunite. After years of trading vocal bitch-slaps through interviews, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter J Mascis and bassist/vocalist Lou Barlow decided to patch things up and grab drummer Murph to either pull off a Pixies cash-in or genuinely join forces for good (it’s still too early to tell). Whatever their decision was based on it’s great to hear their first three albums remastered and available for the first time in years. Debut self-titled album (a lawsuit made them add the suffix) is an interesting starting point, but fails to raise the monstrous walls of noise they earned their rep with. Still, it’s an adequate debut and it’s really hard to deny "Repulsion” isn’t a great song and proof of what they would become. You’re Living proves its validity as their masterpiece from the opening hardcore-rooted screams and deafening wah noise of "Little Fury Things,” as the band shows a clear progression into their own beast — a flurry of guitar effects volume and marathon solos, lackadaisical vocals, shy-boy lyrics (check "In A Jar”) and the blueprint for both grunge and shoegazing. Tacked on is their popular cover of the Cure’s "Just Like Heaven,” complete with some great wonky lead guitar noodling and unexpected gang-chant on the chorus. Bug, Barlow’s unbeknownst swan song (which is perfectly captured in the closing "Keep the Glove”), builds on its forerunner’s strengths with a cleaner sound, tighter pop hooks and an anthem to begin proceedings in the form of "Freak Scene,” while "Yeah We Know” displays Mascis’ signature penchant for the epic slice of guitar pop. Though the musical extras for each disc feel slight (a music video, a live track), the real gold is in the insightful and enlightening liner notes. They may not be inspiring the latest musical movement (yet), but Dino Jr. deserve their moment in the sun. It’s nice to have them back and these reissues are fine testaments to their important contribution to indie rock. (Merge)