J. Mascis: Tied to a Star (SubPop)

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J. Mascis: Drifter
J. Mascis: Tied to a Star (SubPop)

The 2012 album I Bet on Sky by Dinosaur Jr – the band singer/guitarist J. Mascis helms with once-estranged Lou Barlow – divided loyalists, some heard it as a return to form and others (like me) thought it obvious.

Mascis' albums under his own name have been more consistently interesting since Free So Free (with the Fog) over a decade ago, and especially 2011's Several Shades of Why with Kurt Vile, Kevin Drew and others. Here again he turns the volume and attack down for an acoustic-framed album of weary sounding songs and has a discreetly gentle guest spot from Cat Power on the delicate Wide Awake.

The brisk instrumental Drifter and Heal the Star hark back to the Indo-folk of Britain's Davy Graham and Bert Jansch's work in the mid 60s but elsewhere he pulls pointedly weaving electric solos over the acoustic substructure (the shapeshifting Trailing Off and pathos-filled closer Better Plane) and deploys that fractured falsetto to convey unspecified hurts or stateless emotions.

The widescreen Every Morning is surging power-pop.

Mascis has taken a fascinating journey from hardcore to left-field folk these past three decades and sounds utterly at home here.

Elsewhere has an archived interview with J. Mascis here and another with Lou Barlow here

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Jos - Sep 1, 2014

Love this album, a gentle joy.

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