Strange You Never Knew

Out in town on Saturday night we ended up in a pub at the northern end of the city centre with a decent selection of music playing. Mazzy Star’s 1994 single played, the sort of song that can silence a pub- it didn’t silence us, we discussed the various attractions of the song and its singer.

Fade Into You

Lovely isn’t it? Acoustic guitar, a slide guitar part, a lazy drumbeat and Hope Sandoval’s wondrous, hazy vocal. A song that is is much more than the sum of its parts, its all about the playing, the performance and the dust and heat that it evokes. Deserts and lust and suchlike.

In 2013 J Mascis recorded a cover version which is pretty wonderful in its own right, twin acoustic guitars and J’s cracking, weathered voice.

Fade Into You

See You At The Movies

I can’t imagine J Mascis is getting very many new fans at this stage in his ‘career’, that the youth are getting into his records or even that Dinosaur Jr are on the verge of a re-discovery (despite their reunion). His band and solo career seem to play to people who got into him between the mid 80s and mid 90s and have stuck. This song sneaked out a while ago, a solo song ahead of a new solo album.

In lots of ways it’s as good as anything he’s done for ages, all the J Mascis elements present and correct- timeworn vocal, lovely acoustic guitar backing, blistering lead guitar parts and a general sense of lethargy (but with that electric jolt still there). Sonic Youth wrote Teenage Riot about J Mascis, imagining him as president of the USA in an alternate reality. What seemed nonsense in 1988 now seems like good common sense- J would be a million times better than the current incumbent and his support for medieval theocracy, whatever the cost.

Dinosaur Jr wrote, recorded and released an album in 1987 called You’re Living All Over Me. If you don’t know it, this is a good place to start.

In A Jar

Away Again

A quick turn around and I’m off again, with the family this time, down to the Dordogne in South West France for the next couple of weeks, stopping off in the Loire for three nights on the way back. It’s looking good.

I’ll leave you with a couple of songs to speed us on our way and to keep you happy. Rikki Turner’s new band The Hurt released a cracking song a few months back, the moody and epic Berlin. The new one is a cover of Nico’s One More Chance and is a stately throb.

The new Hardway Bros ep Pleasure Cry is one of my records of the year thus far. This song, Argonaut, was written specifically by Sean Johnston to be played on the boat at Croatia’s Electric Elephant Festival. It starts off like Weatherall’s mix of Come Together and then heads off into the sunset putting its arms around you and doing a little dance.

And just so’s there’s some screaming guitars and drawled vocals here’s J Mascis and The Fog covering Teenage Fanclub’s Everything Flows with Mike Watt on bass. It then diverts into Pavement’s Range Life and The Ruts’ In A Rut. Is it any good? Of course it is. It is seven minutes of good.

Slow Boy

There’s a whole load of shouting and squally guitars and a blistering guitar solo in this recent collaboration between J Mascis and Kim Gordon (pictured above with Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein), done with or for Converse and free to download. It starts noisy and gets progressively noisier, sounding not unlike both their previous band’s late 80s peaks. But who is the slow boy?

Sometimes I Don’t Thrill You

In 1988 the world’s most dysfunctional rock group released their definitive song, Freak Scene. The song practically invents slackers and grunge. J Mascis’ guitar sound is brilliant- controlled but chaotic, spinning distorted notes off all over the place. His vocals are resigned, almost bored to tears with the whole thing but it’s a love song of sorts too- ‘when I need a friend it’s still you’. Post-indie punk, pre-grunge, with a pop tune. And swearing too. I’ve got its parent album Bug but never really play anything off it except Freak Scene.

Dinosaur Jr were a nightmare to each other by all accounts; passive aggressive, J controlling Murph’s every drum beat when recording, not communicating. Bassist Lou Barlow wrote the lyrics to the final song on Bug, the only one he sings. Over ear splitting noise, aimed solely at J Mascis, he screams ‘why don’t you like me?’

I don’t know what’s going on with my Boxnet bandwidth but either it’s not reset at the end of May or June is already over the limit. I’ll try to sort something out. In the meantime you can watch the video for Freak Scene, filmed in John Robb’s back garden in bohemian West Didsbury. It looks like it cost less than the price of a pint of lager and a bag of chips.

Fade Into You

A dangerously fragile, acoustic guitar-led, somewhat enervated cover of Mazzy Star’s beautiful Fade Into You by J Mascis to start Monday and the first week of autumn. The ghost of Neil Young never far away, memories of Dinosaur Jr beyond reach. Bizarrely, cheapeningly, this cover version was done for a trainer advert, released on limited 7″ single as a sop to the purists.

Fade Into You

Back to work tomorrow- Tuesday’s coming like a jail on wheels, to misquote Mr Strummer.