The grey-haired, stoned wizard, J. Mascis, occupies a place amongst the high order of active American guitarists, shared with heady shredders like Nels Cline, Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo. Since reuniting the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr. in the late ’00s, he has received classic rock-esque accolades and has been producing great records the whole time, with various projects, regardless of the value of his own stock. On his second full-length solo record, Mascis explores his sensitive, folky side, something that has always loomed underneath his electric sludge assault. The original concept of the Dinosaur Jr. sound was “ear-bleeding country,” and Tied to a Star is a pretty, dreamy record of twang and drawl from a man who seems to enjoy spending much of his time in the quiet woods of Amherst, MA.
Most of the record is occupied by Mascis’ voice and guitar, but he has some help from some younger admirers, including Philly songsmith Kurt Vile and Broken Social Scene founder Kevin Drew. Some of the tracks, like “Drifter,” have a taste of Led Zeppelin’s folky tunes and “Heal The Star” owes an obvious debt to one of Mascis’ most profound influences, Neil Young. As the type of songwriter that rarely bullshits, these stripped-down tunes highlight the brevity and emotional urgency of Mascis’ style. A man of few words, this is a contemplative record that gets as close to the real Mascis as ever before, and a real gem for his many worshippers.
– Jamie Frey