J Mascis and the Fog, J Mascis and the Fog Live at Maxwell’s 11/18/2004

Wondering Sound Staff

By Wondering Sound Staff

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

To perfectly recreate the J Mascis live experience, turn up the stereo — really loud. Now turn it up some more, beyond the point of pain. Voila! Ten points if you have any high frequency range left after listening to this guitar-heavy maelstrom recorded at one of indie rock's perennially premier clubs.

J Mascis bucked indie-punk convention in the mid '80s when his power trio Dinosaur Jr put long hair and even longer guitar solos in the center of the mix. While Mascis mashed on distortion and wah-wah pedals to unleash emotive guitar runs worthy of Neil Young's Crazy Horse, he also wrote songs that rattled around the brain long afterwards. Those tunes are here — alongside his more recent Fog material, Mascis reprises Dino Jr faves such as "Freak Scene" and "The Wagon," amping them up with freshly reinvented solos. The compact bursts of shrill guitar attack through a wah-wah on "Little Fury Things" sound like a black hole swallowing up all of existence.

Mascis 'Eeyore-like sense of inspiration never fails him. The surprisingly spirited, misanthropic anthem "Everybody Lets Me Down," originally from 2002's Free So Free, is his idea of a defining personal statement. Like many seasoned veterans, Mascis 'artistic quest resembles one long song to which he never quite finishes adding final touches. Here, it manifests in the 13-minute freakout of "Alone" and the eight-minute "Ammaring." With extended solos more like free jazz than hard rock, Mascis taps into his inner Hendrix and lets his freak flag fly.