J Mascis + The Fog- Free So Free
Reviewed by Dr. and Mrs. Yale Kaul on or about Jan 01, 2003
J Mascis is free, I guess. Well, so far it isn't clear what he's free of or from. Psycho girlfriend? Herpes? Maybe he paid his car off? Maybe Lou Barlow finally stopped talking shit about him in the press for "breaking up" Dinosaur Jr and then immediately reforming the band and touring Australia sans Barlow? In any event, there are about 129 allusions to freedom on this latest Mascis solo outing. The word <i>free</i> occurs in the album title, three song names, and is repeated ad infinitum in the lyrics. So next time you see him waddling down the streets of Amherst, be sure and congratulate him on his newfound freedom, won't you? It has long been my contention that J Mascis hasn't done anything worthwhile since Dinosaur Jr's <i>Bug</i> LP back in about 1989 or so. But I don't think this contention of mine is garden-variety nostalgia or disdain for new shit. It just strikes me that as soon as Barlow left, the tension in that band was totally lost, and the tension was what made them such an interesting band. And then all of a sudden, Mascis decides he's a one-man band, and the songs start being 40% too long. Some of those 90s albums have some great shit on them, but they all have the unmistakable stench of self-indulgence, like you just know this joker's been sitting in his bedroom with a four-track for days on end, not shaving or showering, and cranking out songs. To his immense credit however, Mascis was astute enough to enlist Mike Watt to play bass on about three different tours, hoping (I imagine) to flesh out his six-minute wank-fests with some decent bass playing. This latest Mascis solo release —aside from the gratuitous references to freedom— is almost a carbon copy of the last one, <i>More Light</i>. Long songs, long solos, lots of Mascis doing that thing where he sings so that you can hear the crackling in his voice. It's good audio wallpaper. Pleasing sounds, but not much to grab onto.