J Mascis – since the late 80’s, he’s seen the landscape of new music continually take its cues from his work with Dinosaur Jr. while maintaining a solo career that sonically stands apart from the very pillars he’s constructed. It is interesting (if not a shaky comparison) to juxtapose Mascis’s career against that of the aging Rivers Cuomo, whose own output has spawned rather incestuously from his classics. Weezer’s recently released and desperately self-referential “Back to the Shack” presents a very clear drawback to crafting a pioneering sound – you could spend the rest of your career in your own shadow.
It seems Mascis has stood taller than ever these last few years. The quality of the reunited Dinosaur Jr. has been not only consistent but as rich as their back catalogue – and while the Neil Young comparisons have always followed his solo work, they have never stood in the way of Mascis continuing to stake his own. His pursuit of growth and fearlessness of change are possibly the strongest contributors to his continuous relevance. This remains true of the second single off Mascis’s forthcoming Tied To A Star, to be released on Sub Pop on August 26th.
“Wide Awake” captures a sleepless Mascis yearning for resolution of what seems to be a hasty distancing between lovers. Chan Marshall (Cat Power) gives voice to the receiving end of his outreach – her echoes of “I’m wide awake” provide a wonderful balance that reminds the listener of how often songs of yearning only present one side of the pain. However, Mascis seems open to being affected and guided by the needs of those in his life. His admission to having “scoured all the pages / not enough to find” and only to “[come] out stuck” is an acceptance of responsibility, heartbroken as he may be.