Mascis + the Fog
|Off-kilter chord progressions
and monster guitar solos
Before grunge there was something called
indie-rock (remember?!), and one of its leading men was J.
Mascis, who at the front of his Dinosaur Jr. trio gave a gritty,
slightly off-key voice to the wimps and losers of the world,
years before Kurt Cobain and co. formed Nirvana. For two nights
in February, Mascis, 37, returns to remind us hes still
around, when he steps out in front with his latest band the
Fog in a brief Japan tour to introduce his new album, Free
A notoriously difficult individual, there was never any doubt
that J. Mascis in effect equaled Dinosaur Jr., the band he
formed in the college town of Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1983.
A string of releases like 1987s Youre Living All
Over Me and 1988s Bug on leading indie label SST crept
insistently up the college charts, earning the band a growing
word of mouth reputation.
With his off-kilter chord progressions and monster guitar
solos, Mascis was a major influence on the burgeoning grunge
movement, prefiguring figures like Cobain in his intensely
Dinosaur Jr. briefly disbanded in 1989, mainly as an excuse
for Mascis to drop bassist Lou Barlow, who went on to form
Sebadoh and, more recently, The New Folk Implosion. After
sitting in on drums with a succession of bands, Mascis reformed
Dinosaur Jr. in 1991, releasing their first major label recording,
Green, the same year.
Ironically, Nirvana supported Dinosaur Jr. on their Green
tour. But, while Dinosaur Jr. were hailed as godfathers of
grunge after Nirvanas success and the alternative rock
breakthrough, they never received even a fraction of the adulation
of Nirvana, and seemed content to remain cult favorites.
In 1996 Mascis released his solo debut, Martin and Me, and
soon disbanded Dinosaur Jr. after their final 1997 album,
Hand It Over.
Released last October, Mascis second album with the
Fog, Feel So Free, was a characteristically personal work.
Rolling Stone put its stamp of approval on the album, saying,
Like his obvious hero Neil Young, Mascis sings as if
the world has worn him out and only guitar notes will ably
express his elations and frustrations.
With tours this winter from Billy Corgan, Sonic Youth, J.
Mascis, the Breeders and Pearl Jam providing a neat history
of the late-80s-early-90s transformation of US
indie-rock into grunge, Mascis provides perhaps the most idiosyncratic
J. Mascis + the Fog play Club Quattro
on February 24 and Liquid Room on February 25.