J Mascis: What Do We Do Now (digital outlets)

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Set Me Down
J Mascis: What Do We Do Now (digital outlets)

In 2002, J Mascis – of Dinosaur Jr – played an unforgettable solo show at Auckland's Galatos. Looking like “a slacker physics graduate” (our words in the review) he began with his melodic alt.pop and then suddenly hit a foot-pedal to unleash a howling gale of guitar squall in the manner of Neil Young with Crazy Horse.

Young has been a key touchstone for Mascis' albums outside of Dinosaur Jr (under his own name, with The Fog and others) although when it comes to lazy but logical melodies he can give Evan Dando and Frank Black a decent run for their money.

This fifth solo outing is one of his dialed-down albums, begun at the end of the Covid pandemic – which explains the title perhaps.

With guests Ken Mauri (piano) and steel guitar player Doc Dunn in a few of places, this is one of his typically understated but quietly engrossing albums delivered in that cracked vocal style which can be yearning (I Can't Find You), broken by heartache (It's True with a wiry guitar solo) or driving the most poppy songs (Set Me Down).

J Mascis – whom we called “the silent Bob of rock” in our interview before his tour – is the kind of artist whose career loyalists follow, outsiders pass by and, only occasionally, do some come late into his world.

If you're one of the latter then here is acoustic-framed pop, power-pop (Can't Believe We're Here, Hangin Out) and songs with melodies which seem natural and unforced.

If you are a loyalist he hasn't let you down, although here he's more reliable than challenging.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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