Review: J. Mascis AlbumTied to a Star is not so Lustrous

J Mascis. Photo Justin Lapriore. J Mascis. Photo Justin Lapriore.

Article Hillary Storm.
It’s been about three years since guitar hero, J. Mascis released any new solo material. Known for his soulful guitar solos and slow yet sentimental song constructions, J. Mascis sounds like an indie-rock Bon Iver. Although some people appreciate this fleecy sound, while others such as myself cry secretly at the disassembly of kick-ass Dinosaur Jr., Tied to a Star lacked any poignant sound foundation, leaving the album a spineless conglomeration that quite frankly can be described as boring.

Tied to a star j mascis

“Wide Awake” and “Every Morning”, the two featured singles, are the most diverse songs on the album. This is mainly because unlike the tracks, “Me Again”, “Trailing Off”, and “Better Plane”, these pieces contained some brief electric guitar solos, percussion, and more of the jaunty indie-rock pace to their development. The majority of the album focuses on themes such as self-actualization, drug use, moving on from youth, and loss of time. For this reason, the painful sameness of the instrumentals and vocals was more justifiable, as the tone was one of a depressing epiphany.

The most redeemable feature to this release is definitely Mascis’s guitar technique. Ranked 5th in Spin’s list of 100  greatest guitarists of all time, Mascis is a guitar legend. Given that the majority of the songs on the album featured minimal instrumental diversity, the guitar was the focus and perhaps the only thing that made this album listenable. Mascis has an organic, clean, acoustic sound that is equally if not more influential on the development of the songs melancholy tones. The best song on the album, “Drifter”, showcases the guitar in its long, folksy, all instrumental nature. The song mirrored other notable guitar solos like John Butler Trio’s “Ocean”, and seemed somewhat a random placement to the album’s otherwise moody singer-song writer temperament.

The album, released August 25 by Sub Pop Records, is worth skimming through, especially if you’re a long-time Masics fan. However, don’t be expecting too much from it. It’s definitely not a stop-everything-you’re-doing kind of album. In fact, it is probably a great album to multitask to.

Tied to a Star was released on August 28.