It’s hard to believe that Tied to a Star is J Mascis’ sixth, yes sixth, solo album. However, it’s not at all hard to believe that this is destined to be his best, and here’s why. Where You Been was Dinosaur Jr.’s sixth studio album and has secured its place in the hearts of many as one of their best (don’t freak out I said one of…). Numeric similitude aside, Tied to a Star, simply put, shines. “Wide Awake” has been released as the first single off of Masics’ latest venture, and while there are clear sonic allusions to cuts off his last solo album, Several Shades of Why, it is more complex, diverse, and engaging. The arrangements are lush and masterfully recorded and engineered by J himself, along with John Agnello who has also been at the controls for albums by Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, The Hold Steady, and more.
Tracks like “Wide Awake,” “And Then,” “Me Again,” and “Come Down” are signature Mascis acoustic cuts featuring layers of rich acoustic strummings, brooding lyrics, and overdubbed vocal harmonies. Each pick off where Mascis left off with Several Shades of Why. The pleasant surprises come in the form of the other six tracks ranging from the upbeat acoustic/electro jaunt “Every Morning” to a less expected all instrumental Blues stomp “Drifter.” Tied to a Star also features guest appearances from Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power) as well as Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus) and Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession).
If you’re not yet a fan of Mascis and his decades of incredible contributions to music in general, Tied to a Star is as good a place to start as any as an introduction to this incredible talent. Of course if you are a total fan boy like me (we believe in 100% transparency here at StGA), then you should be seriously nerding out over the deluxe pre-order bundle which boasts Tied to a Star on vinyl, a 4-button pack, an album cover sticker, an exclusive limited edition t-shirt, a coffee mug, oh and a Tied to a Star poster to boot! Do you even need to ask what I’ll be drinking my coffee out of this September?