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Free So Free

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Album Review

Even though J Mascis was Dinosaur Jr. for all practical intents and purposes from Green Mind onward (other folks may have joined him on stage and in the studio, but he certainly called all the shots), retiring the name seems to have taken a bit of weight off his shoulders, and his work sounds a good bit more comfortable as a result. Free So Free, his second album under the rubric J Mascis + the Fog, is still built around the "Neil Young gone stoner rock" guitar textures and pot-fueled melodic structures he's been plying since 1985, but the almost funky rhythms of "Freedom," the understated boogie of "Bobbin," and slightly jazzy undertow of the title cut suggest Mascis is learning to play looser and lighter these days, and the results appear to suit him. While a handful of musicians are credited with playing on various tracks, it seems that much of Free So Free is Mascis accompanying himself through the magic of multitracking, but the feel is warm and organic, and the guitars, while still big and fuzzy, gently nudge almost as often as the bludgeon on this set; if the form is much the same, the end product is certainly something new. If the difference between the more "mature" J Mascis on his two albums with the Fog and his earlier work with Dinosaur Jr. is largely a matter of small details, those details still add up to something, and Free So Free demonstrates he's been evolving at his own comfortable pace; the results are sure to please longtime fans, while possibly reeling in a few folks who were turned off by the sonic excess of Dinosaur Jr. at their most punishing.

Free So Free, J Mascis + The Fog
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