J Mascis on “Elastic Days” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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J Mascis on “Elastic Days”

A Matching Set

Jan 09, 2019 Dinosaur Jr. Bookmark and Share

J Mascis has been showing off this different side for quite some time.

When the Dinosaur Jr. frontman first released a solo album, 1996’s Martin + Me, the response was something of a soft shock. Mascis, the man responsible for not only cranking his own amps to 11 but influencing a generation of alternative bands to do the same, had shed his electric for an acoustic approach. Even more, his typically buried vocals were placed more central to the mix. J Mascis the singer/songwriter was a bit of a sonic curveball.

Yet adjustments aside, Mascis’ solo work was arresting on another level. The thoughtful reflection, the charming approach, the subtle beautyall aspects of Mascis’ songcraft that might never be truly appreciated without these acoustic turns on his own.

Elastic Days is the latest and greatest, a compelling mix of acoustic tunes that serve up reflective insights (“Finding you was easy/but finding me is hard,” he sings on “See You at the Movies”) alongside his signature guitar work (queue the killer third-act electric solos on “I Went Dust” or “Give It Off”). The album falls right in line with his last solo album, 2014’s Tied to a Star, with Mascis once again playing nearly all instrumentation on his own, with the primary difference on Elastic Days coming with his emphasis on the drumssomething he was particularly excited about recording on this project.

“Growing up playing drums, I never had a matching set,” says Mascis. “I would just get a drum here and there. Someone special ordered the drum set in 1970 from Ludwig. I had seen it come up for sale now and then over the last 10 years. It’s rare because the sizes I like are 28, 15, and 18 [inches], which not many people want, so it wasn’t that expensive. So I have a drum set I would have ordered back then. Something about it makes me psyched to play.”

In addition to his excitement for the new drums, Mascis also included plenty of talented guests on the new album. Miracle Legion’s Mark Mulcahy and The Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins both provide guest vocals along with Zoë Randell of Luluc. Mascis says it’s a “combo of all of the above” when asked whether it’s a matter of artistic vision or convenience when knowing which guests to invite to record.

For Randell, who duets with Mascis on “I Went Dust,” it was an adolescent dream come true to record with the Dinosaur Jr. singer.

“We toured with J a couple years ago with [our album] Passerby,” says Randell. “He took us out with him in the UK and we became good friends. It was awesome to open for him because I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. It was really nice to know he was into what we do as well.

“About six months ago, he sent a song through and said, ‘Would you mind singing a part on this?’” Randell continues. “I loved doing it. I’ve been listening to his records since I was a teenager, so it’s lovely to be singing along with someone who you’ve had that sort of relationship with for so many years.”


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January 23rd 2019

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