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Dinosaur Jr.

The Amherst, Massachusetts-originated trio Dinosaur Jr. rose to prominence during the late 1980s and early 1990s alternative rock boom. Formed in 1984 following the breakup of J. Mascis and Lou Barlow’s hardcore punk outfit Deep Wound, what was originally known as Mogo was finalized with the addition of drummer Murph and vocalist Charlie Nakajima. Following the band’s first show, in which Nakajima went on an anti-police rant, Mascis broke up the band and immediately re-formed it without the lead singer. College friend Gerald Cosley had founded Homestead Records and agreed to record an album of J. Mascis’s material. Released in 1985, the eponymous debut of the new lineup known as Dinosaur featured the speed of punk with a riff-oriented garage sound tinged with country and folk influences. The album did not sell well, and was largely ignored by the critical press, but Dinosaur began to perform in New York City where the band developed a professional relationship with fellow avant-garde rock band Sonic Youth. Dinosaur toured with Sonic Youth in 1986 and its second album, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, was recorded largely by Wharton Tiers, a Sonic Youth collaborator. Released through SST Records, a second album attracted much more critical attention and was praised in the underground. Soon after the album’s release, the band was sued by the supergroup the Dinosaurs, so changed its name to Dinosaur Jr., and recalled its recent effort to have the name reprinted. In 1989 Bug spawned the single “Freak Scene,” which became popular in the UK and led to a tour, after which Barlow left the band to focus on his Sebadoh project. A performance of “Freak Scene” and footage of the band was featured in Dave Markey’s 1992 Sonic Youth/Nirvana tour film 1991: The Year Punk Broke. The band signed with Sire in 1990 and released two more albums through 1994 that charted and had successful videos on MTV. Members continued to leave and, after 1997’s Hand It Over, Mascis officially retired the name and focused on solo work. The first three albums were reissued through Merge, which led to revived interest and a reunion in 2005. Subsequently, the band has released four additional albums through Fat Possum and Jagjaguwar.