US - Massachusetts - Full Moon 222 - 10/08/14
Tied to a Star
Sub Pop Records
Some two months ago I was slowly knocked over by J Mascis' "Every Morning". This is a morning psalm, a 'must-listen-to' song for every morning. Sort of a 'carpe diem' for the start of the
day; for every day. Mascis' song is so calm, so laid-back, so chilling, so cool it brushes you (ironically) like a mild breeze. And, suddenly, here's Mascis with a brand new solo album, his
second only, which might also be his best in years. Dinosaur Jr's albums included. To quote Mascis' Dinosaur-bandmate Lou Barlow: 'Gimme indie rock!'
"Every Morning" is simply a blissful song. No doubt. But mind you, it is not the only smashing song on this lovely album. Tied to a Star starts
with the way cool "Me Again", which could be a statement: Here I am, me, again. Well, "Me Again" is (or, it sounds like) a statement as well, as is "Every Morning":
'...every morning makes it hard on me, then I wake to who I'll never be...'. It - the song, and its lyrics - seems to be a personal quote, or
a sum-up of his personal life. Good. Nice, with a sedative effect. After "Every Morning" comes "Heal the Star", which does have this Eastern tint, or 'twang', with its Eastern inspired guitar
sound and arrangement, ending in Raga-land. A raga: '...(literally "colour, hue" but also "beauty, melody"; also spelled raag, raaga,
ragam; pronounced ra-ga, ra-g or ra-gam) is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music.' Tied to a Star shows proof of Mascis being a fabulous, amazing songwriter.
Even better than I have ever thought. And, quite clearly, he is aspiring for some Neil Young award. "Wide Awake" is a calming and caring ballad. That said, most of the songs on Tied to
a Star are swaying in ballad-land, or at least: they are hued within the "acoustic" mode. Well, imagine Mascis as acoustic as you can. Mascis, armed with a guitar is probably not far from
a pedal (or several), or an effect box (or multiple). All geared up. The mood (and mode) is acoustic, but the attitude and approach for sure is electric, and vibrant. Most of the ten tracks
included on the album are goodies, or strong stand-alone songs. There are many a favourite song included, not only the mentioned ones but also "And Then", "Trailing Off", the instrumental
"Drifter" (which is another track stretching the Western-Eastern musical borders and limits), "Come Down", and the closing "Better Plane". Tied to a Star is marvellous. Simple as that.
You'd better run for the album, and you'd better run to see J perform live when he comes by your town or city.
Tied to a Star has been mentioned (by some) to be some sort of a companion album to his 2012 album, Several Shades Of Why. Could be so, but it stands very well alone. As does
Mascis, as a solo artist. To quote a short presentation from his home page: "In the quarter-century since he
founded Dinosaur (Jr.), Mascis has created some of the era's signature songs, albums and styles. As a skier, golfer, songwriter, skateboarder, record producer, and musician, J has few
peers." Trust the man. J for president!
Final remarks: Like on Several Shades... The Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins has contributed this time as well (adding guitars and vocals). In addition two other singers have
added their vocal skills: Chan Marshall (of Cat Power fame), Mark Mulcahy (formerly of 1980s/1990s band Miracle Legion), plus some piano work by Ken Maiuri
(formerly of the bands The Maggies and The Mammals. Maiuri has also worked with Mark Mulcahy).
Copyright © 2014 H Oppøyen