Album review: J Mascis | Tied To A Star

Dinosaur Jr guitarist J Mascis releases a solo album that’s very much in the vein of his last solo effort, 2011’s Several Shades of Why. He has replaced his banks of elephantine electric guitar with mainly acoustic strumming and delicate picking. The album opens with the deliberate melody of Me Again, tasteful guitar punctuated by Mascis’ occasional not-so-welcome falsetto. It’s an album designed for lazing in the sunshine, calling to mind a Thurston Moore’s ‘pastoral’ Demolished Thoughts album. The rather basic chord progression of Every Morning allows for a brief electric solo but that’s the most interesting thing about a somewhat repetitive song.

Heal the Star fares better. It’s pretty sparky for an acoustic song, especially when the track cuts loose halfway through with an instrumental break featuring some fine percussion. I mean, it’s straight out of the bong-smoking cliched end of the sixties, but in a good way. Wide Awake is a pleasant, sun-dappled tune featuring a guest vocal from Cat Power. A distant growl of electric guitar opens the falsetto led Stumble, with a melody cribbed from The Vaselines’ Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam, which IS as strange as that sounds. The addition of piano and a gorgeous Mascis solo on And Then manages to lift the slumbering mood, while Come Down and the instrumental Drifter do a passable imitation of Led Zeppelin III. Closing track Better Plane features peals of electric guitar cracking across a pretty little tune.

It’s perfectly pleasant, but a J Mascis album without his arsenal of distorted guitar is like asking Morrissey to play drums, ie not a disaster but kind of… strange. Here’s to the next Dinosaur Jr album.

Killian Laher

1. Me Again
2. Every Morning
3. Heal The Star
4. Wide Awake
5. Stumble
6. And Then
7. Drifter
8. Trailing Off
9. Come Down
10. Better Plane

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