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Whatever's Cool With Me

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Album Review

"This is not an album," the liner notes state — and that's true enough, but some albums are almost as long. Whatever's Cool with Me compiles the complete "Whatever's Cool with Me" single and the European single of "The Wagon," making it an amiable, eight-song stopgap to keep hardcore fans happy between albums. "Whatever's Cool with Me" itself is a loud riffer, not as memorable as "Freak Scene" or "The Wagon," but good enough. It's perhaps most memorable for being the studio debut of bassist Mike Johnson, who provided the stability needed after Lou Barlow's departure to re-establish the trio for its most commercially successful period. Johnson also turns up on the two live tracks: a fine version of Green Mind's "Thumb" and a rough rip through "Keep the Glove." One new studio track, "Sideways," starts with one of J Mascis' best acoustic lines, turning into a slow, relaxed full arrangement with everything from drums to vibes played by Mascis himself. Like this song, the remaining "The Wagon" B-sides also feature Mascis as one-man band. In context, the acoustic "Quicksand" is the most amusing number: originally from David Bowie's Hunky Dory, Mascis changes nothing about the arrangement, but substitutes "the wagon" for "the power" in the lyrics, and begins the song with the melody from another Hunky Dory number, "Andy Warhol." The other songs have more of Dinosaur Jr.'s fuzzy appeal, like the friendly roar and strum of "Not You Again" and the screaming yelps and feedback cropping up throughout "The Little Baby."


Formed: 1983 in Amherst, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Dinosaur Jr. were largely responsible for returning lead guitar to indie rock and, along with their peers the Pixies, 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 J Mascis' songwriting and playing, which had the ultimate result of turning Dinosaur's albums into largely similar affairs. Over time, Mascis shed his hardcore punk roots and revealed himself to be a disciple of Neil Young, crafting simple...
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