The third record from Dinosaur Jr., 1988’s ‘Bug’, much in the same way as its most recent highly-acclaimed predecessor, is considered responsible for the continued expansion of the alternative rock scene. The precedent that this band had begun to create and would later go on to solidify on this record and even later on, was the notion that guitar-driven rock n’ roll actually had a place within the alternative underground. This aspect of the band’s dynamic drew a large contrast between many other of the underground bands of that time, who were all primarily noise bands who didn’t have any interest in typical guitar pyrotechnics.
The opening track of the record is “Freak Scene” and aside from being one of the band’s greatest tracks, it showcases the influence from one of bandleader, J Mascis’ biggest influences, the legendary Johnny Ramone. The guitar sound that Dinosaur Jr. employ is one that is primarily comprised of a hodgepodge of punk rock and more a traditional classic rock style. “They Always Come” is another prime example of Ramone’s influence shining through in the sound. One thing to really treasure about this record and this band is their complete dedication to keeping the sound of their music as defined by D.I.Y. aesthetics as possible. This band, along with a handful of others, have really become one of the prime examples of what this aesthetic continues to mean in today’s musical culture. The following track is, “Yeah We Know”, which features some of the absolute best drumming you’ll hear during this time period of underground alternative music. The band’s drummer, Patrick Murphy, knows how to annihilate the skins, there is no denying that. Another fine example of this undeniable fact can be found in the track “Budge” further on down the record. Once we get to the track “Don’t”, as if it weren’t clear before, we are shown that the noise scene in which the band have always been a part of in some way doesn’t fully escape the band’s grasp. Foundation, it turns out, is always foundation in the case of this band.
All in all, this is a truly astonishing record that will stick with you instantly, even though it’s littered with noise tendencies. The mere reality of this is that the band has nothing short of mastered their own dynamic on this record, rendering even the more impenetrable capabilities of noise rock futile to the enjoyment and instant memorability that this record offers. One struggles to pin down the motive behind this. Is it, after all, a defined goal of a typical noise band to express a product of instant memorability? Perhaps this is less of a question of the overall achievements or motivation behind the scene as much as it’s an obvious testimony to the strengths that can be found on this particular record. One way or another, the nature of this record’s conditions are sure enough to grab ahold of the listener and expose them to the true meaning of the D.I.Y. aesthetic and, not coincidentally, expose the listener to the sound of what would become the calling card for an entire generation of future musicians coming up through the pipeline.