J. Mascis – Martin and Me – Review

J. Mascis

Martin and Me (Reprise)
by Nik Rainey

I know what you’re thinking: “Why does J Mascis call this a solo album when he’s the only one in his band he hasn’t fired yet?” Because this isn’t even supposed to sound like a band, that’s why – it’s a live solo acoustic set. Call it Dinosaur Defuzzed. Y’know, I feel kinda bad for ol’ J, having to watch certain former band mates rake in the kudos while Proto-slacker Number One is left in the lurch. A perfect time to vent his spleen without a partition of noise to hide behind, right? Well, uh, no. The big problem is that stripping down to his six-string skivvies ends up revealing dead flaps of skin he’d rather keep covered.

Let us examine the flaccid contours of his gray anatomy: First, “Repulsion” remains staggering a decade-plus on, but laying it alongside his more recent drippage only proves that he hasn’t advanced his life-from-a-bedroom-window world view very far since then. Second, his open wound of a voice is able to wring pathos out of the right material, but when it reaches the apex of its expression on Carly Simon’s ketchup-ad soundtrack “Anticipation,” you know there’s trouble. Third, speaking of covers, the Masc man’s taste therein isn’t exactly Cobain’s. The aforementioned condiment ditty is a nice surprise, and the Smiths’ “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” is a sweetly awkward trip on the Massachusetts-to-Manchester mope circuit… but a Lynyrd Skynyrd song? Fourth and most damning, J’s acoustic, er, “technique” proves that effects pedals and monstrous amps cover up a multitude of musical sins and that J shouldn’t bequeath his bulky blare sweaters to Goodwill quite yet. (And what’s with the fucking Roger Dean/Frank Frazetta-lookin’ cover art?) My advice to the patient is bundle up, go outside once in a while, and maybe, if you grovel enough, Barlow will let you hang out in the studio while he’s recording the next Sentridoh record to show you how this bare-bones thing is done. But the patient is not advised to hold his breath.