What We Do Now

The new J. Mascis album, What We Do Now dropped recently, and has garnered a fair amount of attention. Though it’s expected that a solo album by Mascis will be a lower-key affair than a Dinosaur Jr. album, this isn’t the case with his latest effort under his own name. The songs have a bit more rock in their roll, though Robert Barry observes for the Quietus that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be banging your head or that you will hear one of these tunes on the next Jock Jams compilation.1

But there has always been something kind of off about the kind of rock you get from Mascis. You can’t quite imagine it blasting out of a truck or playing over the credits in a Tom Cruise picture. No tubs are thumped. No fists are pumped. No-one is going to fly into a war zone blasting this. You would lose. Even the guitar solos conjure less the cliff-edge and stiff breeze of Slash’s bit in the Guns n’ Roses videos; more like someone in a confined space wrangling with something. Like a man in a cupboard with a raccoon and a live wire.

Mascis leans into his strengths on this album. His world-weary, cracked vocals have a distinctiveness that is hard to match. As a reviewer for the Trouser Press Record Guide once wrote of Dinosaur Jr.’s cover of the Cure’s Just Like Heaven,” When Masic sings, I must have been asleep for days,’ you really believe him.” His guest musicians also augment the vibe, with Matthew Doc” Dunn and his steel guitar complementing the forlorn vocals in just the right places.

I won’t say that Mascis has a lot of new tricks up his sleeve, but perhaps all some of us need right now is to hear from a comfortable favorite. Take a listen below.

  1. Though I’m not sure they still make those.↩︎


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