Tied to a Star
For my money, J Mascis is the sole bastion of ’90s sludge worthy of composing a film soundtrack about a boy who runs away to Alaska. While Sean Penn and history have demonstrated otherwise, a most inspired acoustic turn from Dinosaur Jr.’s silver-haired chieftain does exist for our enjoyment, nonetheless. Piggybacking off of the excellent, unsung Several Shades of Why (2011), Tied to a Star delivers the same type of upfront, post-toasted melancholia, punctuated by swells from J’s overdriven purple Jazzmaster. Noteworthy guest stars are studded here as well, this time in the form of Chan Marshall and Mascis’s Northampton, Massachusetts bros, Ken Maiuri and Mark Mulcahy. Yet another magical collaboration with visual artist Marq Spusta adds to what could be a storyboard for an epic animated film. Think Miyazaki for the stoner set. But, as most things Mascis go, J is front and center on Star, and his handcrafted songwriting is the main event. “Every Morning” feels like a rejuvenated response to Why’s ripping closer, “What Happened”; “Wide Awake” peers longingly into the night sky; and “Better Plane” is the sort of war-torn rumination that Mascis has spent decades perfecting. Please approach it in the afternoon at excessive volume, and always with a spirit of youthful abandon.