Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions Junkmedia Free So Free review, Nov. 2002

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    Just say the name J Mascis and all the old Dinosaur Jr. fans start debating when people should have stopped listening or buying their records.

    I don’t know the Dinosaur Jr fans they’re talking about …the fans I know agree that all Dino albums are great…

    but on the other hand:

    skydiving. Yeah, that’s probably Mascis’ way of gently tugging on the critical ripcord and bringing new meaning to the phrase "air guitar."

    full article:

    J Mascis + The Fog
    Free So Free
    Ultimatum Music, 2002

    Just say the name J Mascis and all the old Dinosaur Jr. fans start debating when people should have stopped listening or buying their records. Some claim Bug was his last great album, while others hail the variegated sounds of Green Mind. Although these purists have drawn different lines of demarcation, they tend to agree that the last three Dinosaur Jr. albums were an uninspired lot. On those albums, Mascis seemed to be weighed down by the size of his own legend and unsure of where the music should be going. The songs often included bloated string arrangements, and J Mascis sounded like he was just going through the motions most of the time. Gone was the carefree shambolic mess that made those early albums so refreshing. Needless to say, extinction of the Dinosaur Jr. name came slowly and painfully for most fans.

    Yet, Mascis redeemed himself in the eyes of many of these fans with the release of 2000’s More Light, which showed him awakening from the prehistoric slumbers that marred those last records and recording under the new name, J Mascis + The Fog. On Light, Mascis enlisted the help of other indie-rock icons (Bob Pollard and Kevin Shields) to create an album that should have been the true follow-up to Green Mind. It was a "rock" record full of the slackadaisical sonics and sardonic drawl that only Mascis could provide. It also conveyed a looser approach to the music and a renewed sense of fun that had definitely been missing from those previous efforts. Mascis’ newest album, Free So Free, continues this trend. And while it won’t make the entomologically inclined fans come back to the fold, those who enjoyed More Light or Green Mind will enjoy much of this.

    If the press release is to be believed, this record is a concept album about—get this—skydiving. Yeah, that’s probably Mascis’ way of gently tugging on the critical ripcord and bringing new meaning to the phrase "air guitar." Although there are plenty of opportunities to dust off that old air guitar here, I’ll leave the skydiving treatise to someone at Rolling Stone. These songs instead appear to center on a failed relationship and are loosely bound together by musings on personal and political "freedom." The word free, or some derivation of it, can be found in nearly every song.

    The album starts off right with "Freedom," which bites off a fret-full of distorted, chugging guitar while Mascis’ scratchy voice sings lyrics such as, "Say it’s time to move on, say it’s over." Track two, "If That’s How Its Gotta Be," slows down in tempo with acoustic guitar picking and bummed out lyrics. Towards the end of the song, drums drop-kick in and electric guitar squeals uncoil under the continued acoustic work. "Set Us Free" and "Bobbin" finds John Petrovic of Cobra Verde (ironically?) taking Bob Pollard’s backing vocal duties over, as Mascis plays more classic slack rock guitar. It’s all fun stuff, and if one’s not playing this loud, they’d best not play it at all.

    The title track, in the fifth slot, is the centerpiece of this album and brings more off-the-cuff anthemic solos to mime to. "Free So Free" has Mascis singing some white-hot soul with his high pitched multi-tracked voice giving props to Mr. Superfly himself. He gets into a mellow funk and peels off three different guitar solos in six minutes. The middle one is acoustic, and the final one is a laidback flame-out that will have its listeners reaching for their lighters. Be forewarned, your girlfriend may want to get up on your shoulders for this.

    After Free So Free wraps up, it continues to ring in the ears of its listeners. It’s great to hear Mascis continuing to build on the momentum of More Light and playing with audible delight once again. And while old Dinosaur Jr. fans will inevitably moan and groan about Mascis’ new "freedom" rock, many others will enjoy this for what it is: good, impassioned rock n’ roll. Sure, he isn’t breaking any new ground, but this music holds up to repeated listens precisely because it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than that.

    Barin McGrath
    November 6, 2002

    P.S.: I’m back online… sorta.
    My computer broke completely down last week, so I had to buy a new one. And now I’ve got to get used to this new machine. it’s fast like hell, has got a DSL connection (finally!) and all that kind of nice stuff… It has even got a DVD player :eek! well, it’s just so different to the computer I’ve been used to and I’m feeling a bit homeless right now, but I will adjust to it, I guess



    hey flying cloud … i feel for you … my computer has been having a moment for the past day or so …



    No doubt you’ll get used to it, especially the dsl part <img>

    I certainly don’t know any of those Dinosaur Jr fans either, some I know are on their 2nd or 3rd purchase of certain discs as they get worn out after constant play <img> <img>


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