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October 13, 2002 at 6:47 pm #43739
Email interview and album reviewQuote:"…it’s harder to be depressed if you’re busy."
Former Dinosaur Jr. front man roars on latest studio album
By Matthew Despres, Collegian Staff
October 10, 2002
J. MASCIS + THE FOG
Free So Free
J. Mascis has always thought with his fingers.
As the drummer with Deep Wound, front man for the influential Dinosaur Jr. and solo artist backed by the revolving Fog, Mascis has held close to that which he considers dear: loud guitars, chugging rhythms and solos that defy reason in their ability to express both pain and hopeful possibility. On Free So Free, Mascis returns to his touchstones by changing the routes he’s taken to reach them in the past. The journey reveals that, as a musician and writer, he continues to evolve one measure ahead of the world around him.
"On tour it’s tough to write songs just cause I’m so busy and have little privacy," says Mascis, in an interview conducted via email. "It requires a certain desolation and headspace that touring does not offer me. It’s harder to be depressed if you’re busy."
If the truth is in the chords, then Mascis is the most honest man in the business. The 10 songs on Free So Free are among the most focused he’s ever committed to tape; the insistent beats and glorious guitars (including a ’58 Telecaster, ’62 Jazzmaster and Gibson 330, for those keeping score at home) on this set are colored by gentle sensibilities that should send those rowdy young "The" bands running back to school.
The title track is powered by an inner momentum that causes it to rise and fall like a kite, lifting in one direction above his appropriately drowsy vocals and dragged fiercely back in the other with his guitar. What results is a genuine rhythm and blues excursion that Mascis says had specific reference points in mind.
"That song was inspired a lot by Cat Power," he says. "Somehow trying to catch the vibe of her music which I was listening to at the time."
It worked. The song designed to pull from an equally regarded peer stands tall among the other cuts, many of which echo the different faces of Mascis we’ve stolen glimpses of before. "If That’s How It’s Gotta Be" and "Someone Said" capture him – lyrically and musically – at his most contemplative. These reflections are countered by headstrong, forward steps elsewhere; "Freedom" and "Tell The Truth" underline the point with a pleasantly distorted matter-of-factness. Split the difference and, somewhere in that middle, you’ll find the portrait of an artist attending to his lifelong love, the craft of song writing which the passage of time has allowed him to mold into a more personal and fulfilling shape.
"It’s changed in the way that I record at home now, which is a lot different than recording at a studio," says Mascis. "It’s more relaxed. But on the other side, [it] usually ends up taking more time. The only significant difference I notice since Dino is that I don’t feel constricted by what I think Murph could play or not on the drums, so that makes a few different styles and grooves available to me."
He explores those grooves and feels out older, more comfortable ones as well. His knack for writing new songs that you’ve seemingly enjoyed time and again before is unmatched, as is his penchant for digging up different ways to explore alienation, love and loss in his words.
Free So Free is in many ways something we’ve already heard; however, when the storyteller is this damn good, the tales only get better with each additional helping.
Mascis will bring the new material to the Iron Horse in Northampton tonight at 8 p.m., performing a solo, acoustic set as part of his multi-city tour.October 18, 2002 at 5:20 am #57664
hey flying cloud … thanks for that … j seems to be able to express himself better in writing that in conversation …October 19, 2002 at 2:40 am #57665
Thanks for the link FC <img>
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