J Mascis: Tied to a Star (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, February 22nd, 2020  

J Mascis

Tied to a Star

Sub Pop

Aug 29, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Here's J Mascis with another batch of understated and partly unplugged tunes for Sub Pop. Mascis surprised everyone with the intimacy of 2011's Several Shades of Why. Despite the often revelatory nature of his lyrics throughout his career, he'll always remain pegged as indie rock's patron saint of awkward aloofness, eternally more eager to stomp on the fuzz pedal than to sit and talk about his process. Weird, then, to witness the relative intimacy of this village-elder version, laying it bare, turning off the full stacks and applying that lethal nonchalance to some simple folk music. Maybe it lets us get a little closer to Mascis' heart and his seemingly single (and always singular) mode of communication-through a fountain of songs.  

"Wide Awake" is a nice gift, with his adept fingerpicking and melodic shades of melancholy (accompanied here by Chan Marshall, one of a small crew of guest musicians). "And Then" offers more of the samean uplifting ballad with gentle stop-start verses and more fingerpicking flourishes from Mascis. The instrumental "Drifter" comes off like one of Nick Drake's slightly less somber moments, accompanying percussion and all. "Come Down" has that same lilting tone, with Mascis staying in falsetto throughout, a distant bed of fuzz guitars swelling in the background.

With the exception of the decibel levels, none of these songs find Mascis seeking to reinvent his own trusty wheels. He's always stayed true to that simple art of songcraft, his homespun guitar heroics, and letting his tunes do the talking. As long as he keeps cranking out good ones, what else do we really need? (www.jmascis.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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