Record Review 

More Light, the first album from J Mascis in over three years, is a fuzzy affair. Everyone seems to be fuzzy about who's in Mascis' backing band the Fog (though live he'll be joined by ex-Minutemen/fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt), and we're lead to believe Mascis played almost all the instruments himself. Except, that is, for what My Bloody Valentine's guitar genius Kevin Shields did, and the howling wind of guitar fuzz on the title track (similar to "Shoot Speed/Kill Light," Shields' contribution to Primal Scream's new album), suggests Shields was heavily involved at times. The only obvious element that breaks through the Fog, and the fuzz, is Guided By Voices' Bob Pollard's vocals on a couple songs, most notably the opener, "Same Day."

So what's clear about More Light? Well, it's Mascis' best -- with some of the best damn guitar-rock -- since Dinosaur Jr.'s 1993 album Where You Been. The third song, "Where'd You Go," echoes the earlier title, and the entire album echoes the sound: sludge-drenched solos that put even Built to Spill's Doug Martsch to shame.

Several tracks on More Light cyclically recall some of the early-'90s sweetest sounds, produced by bands that were no doubt influenced by Mascis' early work. "Back Before You Go" could be an Urge Overkill track, while the country-lite keyboard tinkering and mandolin-like vibrato of "Ground Me to You" touches on Pavement/Silver Jews territory. But Mascis makes them his own with a wash of '70s AOR and fuzz, complete with cracking vocals (after all, these guys are too worked up creating guitar squall to hit high notes).

With More Light, J finally provides another guitar album that screeches but never screeches to a halt. Nothing fuzzy about that.

J. Mascis + the Fog play the Planet Jam Cotton Club, Wed., Oct. 25.


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