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J Mascis: Tied To A Star

Mostly acoustic solo return from Dinosaur Jr. guitar hero.

Drummer Murph’s last-minute pull-out from Dinosaur Jr.’s European tour last year has put a temporary stop to the proto-grunge band’s increasingly convincing second act. Mascis was dabbling in multiple side-projects anyway. Here, he follows 2011’s solo Several Shades Of Why with another mostly acoustic guitar workout.

The clean whine of Every Morning’s electric solo is a welcome signal this won’t all be pastoral strumming. There’s an undertow of static to Stumble, too, which ends with Mascis’s vocal merging with a thin, fuzzed line of distortion. Heal The Star is the most intriguing song, in which a woozy rocker decides to ‘send my people running downtown’. Surely the protagonist isn’t the formerly passive-aggressive and these days perfectly pleasant Mascis himself?

Wide Awake’s languid aggression suits him, and his lonely, echo-drenched falsetto on Me Again is plaintive. Really, though, this is all about the many subtle varieties of what Mascis can do with a guitar when he’s not shredding with his main band. It’s relaxed, and effective at that.