J Mascis

J_Mascis_Tied_To_A_StarJ Mascis
Tied To A Star
Sub Pop

Some were shocked when J Mascis used a synth on the opener to recent Dinosaur Jr album I Bet On Sky. Some were more surprised that the man behind the ear-bleeding band had released a (whisper it) “folky solo album”. Many were amused to see J dressed as a cult leader in the video for lead single ‘Every Morning’ from his second solo album Tied To A Star on Funny Or Die. Those people didn’t know the might of Mascis, but it’s been obvious all along to those who’ve looked close enough.

This album may be solo but it doesn’t lack punch, just like the adventures in synth didn’t turn Dinosaur into Depeche Mode. J’s always been able to craft a great song, ranging from the pop-like ‘Freak Scene’ to emo-ish ‘Out There’, it’s just that where it was once wrapped in a maelstrom of noise, here it’s more exposed, and, (without sounding wet) more beautiful. He’s also always had a sense of humour – think of that great Spike Jonze directed ‘Feel The Pain’ video with its urban golf and J’s plus fours and Pringles. And just look at that white beard which he wears so well. J was made to be a cult leader if ever I saw one.

There’s some real stand out moments on Tied To A Star, including opener ‘Me Again’ (lest we could ever forget) which displays his trademark vocal range which has aged like an oak-smoked whisky, and the aforementioned ‘Every Morning’ featuring Chan “the greatest” Marshall from Cat Power. There’s also the appealing Shangri-la-la-land of ‘Heal The Star’ and the poignant ‘Wide Awake’ – two ends of a phone call between lovers from a more innocent pre-Snapchat era. J Mascis’ star in rock music is assured, but it’s still shining brightly, even with the amp turned down below 5, and I’m still happy to hitch myself to it.

Nick Hutchings