Better known for his band Dinosaur Jr and his style of guitar-slinging mixed with his part croaky part winey vocal style he is often seen as the ultimate slacker with his long gray hair and quiet soft demeanor Mascis also has a solo career mainly steeped in acoustic folk rock style mixed with his searing solos often the two are inseparable and I dunno why one is his name whilst the other is Dinosaur Jr maybe it’s one of those things like chicken or the egg dilemmas.
On ‘What Do We Do Now’ you are greeted on entry by the upbeat ‘Can’t Believe We’re Here’ with its big acoustic chords and vibrant drum punches on what can only be described as classic Mascis. I love the body-swaying melodies and the middle eight where we drift off toward one of his trademark fuzzed-up solos that just soars. The title track offers more of the acoustic guitar being the lead instrument over the stripped-back band approach. J is joined on by keyboards by Ken Mauri of The B52s, and steel guitar by Canadian psych/folk/experimental musician Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn and after only a few plays this is his brightest and most solid set of solo songs I’ve heard on first impressions. Five solo records in and this is instantly gratifying. On finishing the first couple of run-throughs from one to ten I feel refreshed and uplifted with the overall feel of this record. ‘Right Behind You’ is a joy. The format is solid and pretty much runs throughout the album with ‘I Can’t Find You’ being led by a bright piano and guitar in the intro with a twisting melody through the verse that takes the song somewhere different from what’s come before it and that’s the slight variety but the quality is front and center in all the songs on the record.
Halfway in and the strongest track in my humble opinion is ‘It’s True’ It’s like he is channeling his inner Neil Young and the groovy ‘Set Me Down’ follows like something the alt-country bands will swoon over. It’s Wilco meets Jesse Malin but totally J Mascis. I love that the format of Acoustic Guitars, Keys, Bass and basic drums have been the cornerstone throughout the record with the occasional fuzz solo and organ adding texture here and there making for a mellow yet really uplifting hopeful album and fans of MAscis will be delighted with what’s on offer and the fact he’s touring this is exciting I only hope I can get to hear these live that would complete ‘What Do We Do Now’ for me.
We’re only just breaking into February and I’ve heard some amazing records and J Mascis has certainly delivered one of them with this gentle offering compared to the full-force fuzz of his day job this is the perfect yang to the Dinosaur Ying. Beautiful record, Perfect for a wet rainy day just looking out the window as the world drifts by with the stereo turned up and a hot drink in your hand that’s what we do now. Buy it!
Author: Dom Daley