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June 9, 2004 at 6:15 am #47054
J. Masicis & The Fog – More Light
I used to be a big fan of Dinosaur Jr., same as a lot of people round about 1988 when Ã¢â‚¬ËœFreaksceneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ came out and blew away the poodlerock cobwebs that confusingly reigned at the time. I remember seeing them on a show called Snub on BBC2 miming in someones back garden, frontman J.Mascis looking half asleep in big 70Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s shades, Lou Barlow banging on a Rickenbacker bass through a hedge of hair and the drummer wearing X-ray specs and shaking a stick with little rubber skeletons nailed to it. There was also a life sized fisherman mannequin in a pink sou wester apparently culled from a chip shop looming in the background. Like the music itself, highly proficient guitar playing hanging out with almost ridiculously laid back vocals, it all made a strange kind of sense somehow. A decent album followed (their third), a degree of success and major label interest. The latter was said to have brought out an ambitious and fiscally minded aspect to MascisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ attitude to the band which Barlow didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t much care for. He promptly split, leaving them to Warner Brothers and a further three uninteresting releases to pursue his own sound and degree of success with Sebadoh. Dinosaur Jr. subsequently shuffled off stage left sometime around 1997 and Mascis, famous for doing nothing much, went on to do nothing much. I once spotted him in a Matt Dillon film called "Grace Of My Heart" playing an engineer for a character based on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys but that was it. For 3 years.
Then "More Light" came out at the end of 2000. From nowhere. With J. Mascis on guitars/vocals and Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine infamy) on everything else and damn it if it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the best record that any of them has ever done. The first time I listened to it I thought it was the same as it used to be, as the obvious ingredients are what strike you at first, the unpretentious widdly guitar and the drawly rocking chair on the porch vocals, a reconstituted Dinosaur Jr in everything but name. I used to be a big fan of Dinosaur Jr. like I said, but the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœused to beÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ part came when they got to be just the same thing over and over, like narcoleptic Yngwie Malmsteen record playing forever. So I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too impressed initially with "More Light". Then I lived with it for a few weeks and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other ingredients started to show their flavours, the piano solo on "WhereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d You Go", the Krautrock rumblings of the title track and most importantly the sense of coolness that Dinosaur Jr./J. Mascis had seemingly squandered must have been just resting in an offshore account somewhere because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s here like it had never been gone. What sets J. Mascis and The Fog apart from Dinosaur Jr. though is the strong shift to melodic and, dare I say it, catchy tunes which take you unawares until you catch yourself going round Tesco humming "Hey CÃ¢â‚¬â„¢mon" and getting dirty looks from old ladies. It interferes with Pan Pipe Moods Play Barry Manilow on the in-store radio, they hate that.
So basically I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great record and one IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be playing regularly for months to come. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d even go so far as to recommend it to you, especially if you ever rated Dinosaur Jr. in the early years before they got bored and then boring. If , however, you ever rated Yngwie Malmsteen then all I can recommend to you is a nice lie down in a darkened room or a very hard slap around the head with a particularly large trout. Now get out of my sight. You disgust me.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Gordon Peppard
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