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J Mascis - Tied To A Star (Review)

J Mascis, Tied To A Star

Preview by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

JUST as he did with previous solo album Several Shades of Why, Dinosaur Jr luminary J Mascis strips things down and comes over all mellow for his follow-up, Tied To A Star, and the results are every bit as magical.

Harnessing his guitar prowess with those dinstinct, but somehow reassuring vocals, this is a wonderful collection of songs that charm, divert and make you think in effortless fashion.

Recorded and produced by Mascis and mixed by John Agnello at Bisquiteen in Amherst, the record also features guest appearances from musicians Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power), and is clearly the sound of an artist having some fun.

Every Morning underlines this – a brisk, breezy acoustic number that opens in terrific fashion with some rapid strumming, a slick beat and a toe-tappingly good central melody. The chorus is great too. It’s an instant highlight.

In contrast, tonally, album opener Me Again underlines Mascis’ sublime ability to deliver something sweet, tender, simple and achingly bittersweet. The central guitar riff on this one is heart-meltingly good, while those gruff vocals have a melancholy feel that is just so good, especially when indulging some falsetto notes over the chorus.

But no matter where you pause on the album, there’s something to admire – either in the expert guitar playing or the intelligent lyricism.

Wide Awake is another gem (and another former single) that places another intimate set of lyrics over a hushed, reassuring vocal and some beautifully intricate acoustic guitar licks.

Stumble adopts a little grunge over the acoustic elements and even hints at a plugged in backdrop, while vocally coming over completely falsetto. It’s another perfectly realised track.

And then there’s the slide guitar infused instrumental Drifter, which is a doozy of a track and one that demands repeat listening. The beats, the guitar riffs, the folk-rock elements all combine to create something quite stunning.

Another dusky charmer, meanwhile, arrives in the form of Trailing Off, which again boasts a great central hook, while Better Plane thrives on its addictive central riff (which adds a slightly grittier edge) and superb falsetto led vocal. It’s a terrific way to round off a brilliant album.

Download picks: Me Again, Every Morning, Wide Awake, Drifter, Trailing Off, Better Plane

Listen to Every Morning

Listen to Wide Awake

Track listing:

  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