‘Tied To A Star’
(Out Now on Sub Pop)
WITH BESPECTACLED FEATURES amongst a river of grey hair and beard, J Mascis looks every inch the mellowed veteran rocker. His ever expanding solo catalogue allows him to put the harder rock style of his day job with Dinosaur Jr. to one side, to indulge an inner calm and provide us something much softer. Tied to a Star’s laidback sound is reminiscent of Neil Young’s finest work, with J’s pitch-perfect falsetto a flawless foil to his more common throaty, yet charming vocal.
Opener ‘Me Again’ summarises the album in one song. Simple yet effective acoustic rhythms interspersed with keyboard and guitar fills. With smooth distorted solos making the odd appearance on tracks such as ‘Every Morning’ and ‘Trailing Off’, they’re never gratuitous shredding attempts. Instead adding well placed, welcome melodic intermissions to warm the soul. ‘Stumble’ tests J’s higher vocal register and is backed with simple descending chords by double-tracked dirty grunge and acoustic guitars. Its “don’t expect me to go…” chorus reminiscent of Nirvana’s version of ‘Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam’.
Sadly ‘Drifter’ is an instrumental that doesn’t sit well in its surroundings. It’s the voice that makes J Mascis tick. Anything else is too simplistic to standalone. But dubious vocal-less tracks aside, Tied to a Star’s only downfall is that it becomes a little familiar towards the end. “Haven’t I already heard this song?” You haven’t, but it’s an easy mistake to make. Because these tracks will provide lullabies for relaxing nights with a close friend and a glass of red. So set the mood, pour the wine and let J’s choral expressions take you to a mellower place. (8)