sat 17/08/2019

J Mascis, The Garage | reviews, news & interviews

J Mascis, The Garage

J Mascis, The Garage

Former Dinosaur Jr frontman is noodling with a different crowd

J Mascis: mixing songs by Dinosaur JR and the Fog

J Mascis can almost only sound like J Mascis. Comparing the original material of J Mascis and the Fog and the Dinosaur Jr songs he played last night at the Garage in Islington, there's not a huge amount of difference between the bands. His laid-back, almost comatose delivery and very particular song structures stamp his personality onto every song. Which isn't really a surprise - he's toured with various line-ups over the last 10 years in this band, including Mike Watt of the Minutemen and Ron Asherton of the Stooges but the writing has been very much a Mascis mission.

The only thing that does set the two bands apart (and the gulf there is fairly wide) is the indulgent guitar solos of the Fog, drawn-out grunge noodling, all of which last between two and five minutes in otherwise standard Dinosaur-length songs. A lot of the beauty of Dinosaur Jr was in the lyricism, the heartbreak and frustration, not to mention the slacker-rock perfection of the melodies and intricate bass lines. These songs were short bursts of dissatisfaction with the occasional foray into the noodle. While these things are in there too with J Mascis and the Fog, the band is more twiddling bedroom jam before the storm, not the storm itself. Which is a shame because there's a lot to love in the small amounts of flotsam that reminds this fan of the reason she picked up Bug and Green Mind in the first place.

There's a thing called the Good News Sandwich; you give a person the information they want, the appraisal they want and then you tell them something they don't want to hear, then the other side of the sandwich is another piece of Wonder Bread, another piece of information they want to hear. Good news, bad news, good news. Mascis seems to know this as the set list is comprised of one Dinosaur track, one Fog track, one Dinosaur track etc. It's evident that Mascis is aware of his core Dinosaur Jr fans love for him as the Dinosaur rather than as the Fog. "I Live for that Look", "The Lung" and "Blowing It" were stand-out songs. The crowd were less jubilant for the Fog tunes.

This isn't just nostalgia, or a yearning for the songs I already know. I'm excited by pretty much anything Mascis does - even watching him play drums with Shellac at Primavera a few years back. But in comparison with the Dinosaur material, the Fog  just doesn't stand up. It sounds self-obsessed and decadent. Very much not what I believe J Mascis to be. Perhaps that is nostaliga after all.

For tour dates and other information see J Mascis's website. Buy Farm on Amazon.

 


Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters