IN AN AMUSING bit of timing, October 24--one week before Halloween--was selected as the release date for the spawn of two of indie rock's weirdest. Kevin Shields, his Salinger-styled genius/recluse reputation ensured by two crushingly loud and beautiful My Bloody Valentine records and his subsequent retreat to privacy, has again lent assistance to the similarly aberrant former Dinosaur Jr. proprietor J. Mascis. Mascis, of the unfortunate Tiny Tim resemblance and pained voice box, kicked Lou Barlow out of his band and then watched his own loner reputation grow around him. Truth be told, Mascis was never really the bitter cynic the press made him out to be--he was just an awful interview. His bad rep did nothing but incite more admiration, though, culminating in his famous Spin cover deification.
More Light glimmers as a body of expression if not innovation--not at all surprising, given Mascis's preference for Journey over Pearl Jam, and his tendency toward Frampton and Cure covers. Mascisian heaps of guitar claim precedence over Shields's light production touch. The guitarist, after all, has blazed his trails and already claims a spot on the pedestal created by today's indie ax men like Doug Martsch and Isaac Brock. At this point, Mascis seems content to round out his sound rather than search for a new one. These songs may be more symmetrical and polished than Dinosaur Jr.'s trudge through "Sludgefeast" more than a decade ago, but the combination of Mascis's spastic, furry guitar and his ashcan voice remain the essential appeal. Perhaps the reason Mascis projects continue to engage lies in a certain rubbernecker appeal: His croak has always sounded to me as if it had been fashioned by a blunt strike to the throat. Maybe we're just amazed that he's still alive.