Home Forums Dinosaur Related Discussions Dinosaur/J News & Discussions Shameless Wanker, The Stranger.com April 2001

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    More Light Review: http://thestranger.com/2001-04-26/music2.html


    J Mascis is Ever the Adolescent
    by Kathleen Wilson

    J Mascis and the Fog
    w/ Watery Graves
    Wed May 2, Crocodile, 441-5611.

    There is no middle ground with J Mascis; you love his music, or you scorn it with a passion. To his detractors’ credit, I’ll concede that it doesn’t look good on paper: Shameless guitar wankery and unbridled whining shouldn’t add up to anything worthy of less-than-constant rotation on MTV2. But to look at the facts that summarize Mascis only as they are on the page is to do his career (and yourself) a great disservice. Regardless of era, pre- or post-Lou Barlow, it’s those enthusiastic, unselfconscious blasts of guitar and angst that make the songs of Dinosaur Jr. and Mascis’ recent work with the Fog so vital.

    I know… it shouldn’t be so goddamn refreshing, and were it to come from any other musician, you could expect an epic proportion of sniping on my part. I despise soloing guitarists and overwrought angst– especially from the same single source. Yet, somehow, I come to love just about everything that launches forth from the lips and fingers of Mascis–even Martin and Me, his widely derided 1996 acoustic solo release that I now find charming; it’s a showcase for Mascis’ shrugging, I-don’t-give-a-shit-what-you-think attitude toward fashion or form. He’s a Sagittarian artist, one that sings in the key of freedom (if not a musical one), and must remain unshackled in order to suit his ideal of happiness.

    2000’s More Light, his debut as J Mascis and the Fog, seemed ripe for the ripping. Unfortunately for the bloodthirsty naysayers, More Light’s credits include Guided by Voices mastermouth Bob Pollard and My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields, making it a disc impossible to remark on in passing; and repeated listenings reveal the album’s sneaky tenacity. More Light is a sweetly melodic collection that includes what could be Mascis’ most romantic love song to date, "Ground Me to You." Upholstered simply in piano and acoustic guitar, its honest sentiment sparkles with lyrics like, "It’s a long way yet to come/It’s a long way done/But it needs you/Yeah it needs you." Mascis returns to form with "Ammaring," another unabashed love song, but one featuring the trademark guitar squall he has, for better or worse, become known for. It’s that very element, wailing away under lyrics as sweet as "There’s some scenery I’m missin’/ There’s a peace I can’t endure/I remember when I really blew it/Wish I would have thought of you" that makes the song so addictive, and, eventually, necessary.

    Mascis is ever the adolescent, poised just a step short of chucking naive romanticism for an adulthood filled with jaded grousing and asshole tendencies, so it’s fitting that Pollard, indie rock’s most overgrown teenager, tempers the optimistic album opener "Same Day" with an adenoidal refrain, "It’s sad to know you’re goin’." "Where’d You Go" is a pure teenage anthem that translates perfectly into nine-to-five frustration; a great big ’70s-sized guitar buzzes while Mascis asks with shocked defeat, "Where’s today? Where’s tomorrow been?/Where’s the peace I crave? Where’s the life I live?" It’s a song that could make even the most successful working stiff wrap an arm around the slouching adolescent whose careening skateboard just soiled his $1,500 suit with latte. "Sooner or later, it happens to all of us," the song seems to say. "Waistin," which could have been taken out of Green Mind, will work its way into your head and stay there. Hear it once and I defy you to stop yourself from Mascis mimicry as you sing its whiny chorus involuntarily.

    More Light is full of songs that would fit nicely on any past Dinosaur Jr. album, but it still manages to sound in tune with where Mascis is headed today. Thankfully, he’s got a mind that springs eternal with youthful wonder, and he doesn’t suffer from illusions of artistic grandeur. He does, sings, and plays what he knows and loves, and he hangs out with peers who appreciate and encourage his shrugging determination.

    Mascis devotees: Stand united. Our love remains unsullied.



    thanks Spaceboy [img]images/smiles/converted/smile.gif[/img]

    "Mascis devotees: Stand united. Our love remains unsullied."

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