What Do We Do Now by J Mascis album review by Ben Lock for Northern Transmissions. The Dinosaur Jr frontman's solo LP is now out via Sub Pop


What Do We Do Now

J Mascis

J Mascis has been writing thoughtful Alt-Country-tinged songs for more than two decades and proves his consistency of greatness with every release. It's been six years since he released his last album “Elastic Days” and he follows it up with a great batch of smart and acoustic tunes to add to the already lovely discography J has.

The song to start this dense batch of acoustic tunes off is “Can’t Believe We’re Here,” a fast-moving introspective jam filled with cohesive instrumental ingredients to create a full and uplifting opener track. Mascis’s observations are simple and honest within the lyrics of the song, and I think it sets the mood for the rest of the album very well.

The title track, What Do We Do Now, has slightly more chill dynamics and reminds me of some of my favourite Wiilco tunes. It has been apparent throughout his career solo and with Dinosaur Jr that one of Mascis’s strongest songwriting tropes is writing fun and witty hooks on both guitar and vocals. This is showcased incredibly on the third track, “Right Behind You,” with its bouncy rhythm section and energetic vocal performances. As you can probably expect from a J Mascis, there is a guitar solo on nearly every song. I’m starting to think that he is just writing the songs as an excuse to rip an absolutely lawless double-bend heavy guitar solo at the end of the songs. Either way, I’m here for it, and to be honest, I have been eating that shit up for as long as I have listened to Js music. Ok, back to the album. “You Don’t Understand Me” is actually one exception from the long-ass spiel I just made about the guitar solos on the album. This one has quite different dynamics from the rest of the project and seems to be one of the most country-inspired tracks of the album. Sorry to go off-topic again, but I have to say I have been listening to a lot of bummer records lately. Maybe it’s due to the time of year and the lame-ass weather here in Vancouver, but I have been listening to some sad shit, and that made my listening experience to What do we do now just that much more refreshing as it is an uplifting and generally positive listen. “I Can’t Find You” fits that description perfectly with its extremely easygoing vibe and happy piano and guitar parts.

The fun and positive vibes continue seamlessly on “Old Friends.” That being said, I’m weirdly not crazy about the singing on this song as I find it a bit forced and sometimes pretty pitchy. “It’s True” has a very fun rhythmic feel and a catchy chorus that has gotten stuck in my head a lot since my first listen. My personal favourite track off the record is “Set Me Down,” as it is a happy and inspired track that sees J purely writing songs and having a good time. This song gives me a euphoric and youthful feeling that is similar to my reaction the first time I ever heard “Boys Don’t Cry” by the Cure. I seriously can’t get enough of this song it is that good. “Hangin Out” continues similar feelings displayed on the previous track but with lots of hooky melodies and absolutely monstrous drum fills. The ending track “End is Getting Shaky” comes in right away with beautifully mixed acoustic guitar, live room drums and a big piano sound. The song is an honest and mature tune that wraps up the record in a classy fashion. J Mascis comes through again with relatable and easy-going songs representing who he is as a musician and a person in today’s crazy world.

Order What Do We Do Now by J Macis HERE


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