By Jason Leger
On The Horizon: J Mascis-Tied to a Star
A couple of months ago, I may have made a tad bit of a faux pas in my review of “HEAL,” the brilliant new album from Strand of Oaks. J Mascis makes a cameo appearance, masterfully shredding as always, on the album’s opener and lead single, ‘Goshen ’97.’ I made the error of qualifying Mascis as being “nearly legendary.” I questioned myself when I typed it, and then more aggressively when I saw it in print. While you can say the name and three out of five people may not know who he is, you can clarify by acknowledging him as the face of Dinosaur Jr., which still may lead at least two of those five people to think, “Oh, that’s that band I’ve heard of and never listened to because I didn’t think I would be into it.” Sadly, I was in that boat for way too long and kicked myself when I first listened to ‘Keep Choppin.’
Mascis deserves the status of legend at this point. At the very least, he deserves the title of ‘alt-rock legend’ or ‘guitar god.’ He is an incredibly succinct and consistent song writer, has one of the most recognizable, seemingly pained voices around, and he can make a guitar do dirty, dirty things. However, he also has a softer side, which dutifully accompanies the pain behind his voice. “Several Shades of Why,” his solo album from 2011, has some of the most beautifully simple compositions I’ve ever heard and was one of my favorite albums from that year. A few days ago, I was able to hear his upcoming album, “Tied to a Star,” and the results and effects are quite similar. The album is stirring, melancholic when it needs to be, bright when it needs to be, and, for lack of a better term, it’s extremely smooth. It also doesn’t hurt that Cat Power provides some accompaniment. The absolute highlight for me on the album is the opener, ‘Me Again,’ because it seems to exemplify everything that’s great about Mascis’ solo work. The lyrics are just morose enough to balance out the hopefulness of the guitar riff and obviously there is a great acoustic lead. “Tied to a Star” is due out August 26 on Sub Pop. While you wait, visit—or revisit—“Several Shades of Why.” I know I will be.
If You Haven’t Heard: Cymbals Eat Guitars
If you’re already familiar with Staten Island indie rock revivalists Cymbals Eat Guitars, be prepared to forget everything you know. The band has released two full lengths, 2009’s “Why There Are Mountains” and 2011’s “Lenses Alien,” and the gap between those two saw enormous changes in style and lineup, with the latter probably contributing to the former. “Lenses Alien” was dark and brooding with complicated composition and signals of significant growth as musicians. However, while the album received favorable reviews, the band itself was willing to call it a chore to listen to and play.
Now CEG is back with new album, “Lose,” an album that’s easier to listen to and probably easier to perform. The tracks that lead the way, ‘Jackson’ and ‘Warning,’ made me reminisce of early 2000’s Militia Group output, as they scream emo, early indie revival. I highly recommend giving this band some time. “Lose” is out August 26 via Barsuk Records.
Track of the Week: Glycerine Queens-Sleep Deprivation
Somewhere at the intersection of surf, psych and glam sits ‘Sleep Deprivation,’ the new single from New Jersey band Glycerine Queens. This is a track that is perfect for the August stretch of summer heat we are currently enduring. Stream it on the band’s SoundCloud page, and be on the lookout for more from these cats.