While it may sound like hyperbole, the landscape of Indie and Alternative Rock would look – and sound – very different without the influential work of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist J Mascis. Born Joseph Mascis, Jr., his work with Dinosaur Jr. is legendary but he’s also released iconic solo albums plus releases Deep Wound, Witch, Upsidedown Cross, Sweet Apple, Heavy Blanket, and others. While he’s known for his guitar work – he has been listed as one of the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists’ of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine – he began his musical journey as a drummer in a school jazz ensemble. In 1982, he began drumming for Hardcore Punk band Deep Wound, where he met guitarist Lou Barlow. While playing together in that band, a life-long – with several breaks – musical alliance was formed between the two musicians.
Shortly after Deep Wound broke up in 1984, J Mascis and Lou Barlow formed Dinosaur Jr. With J Mascis switching to guitar and vocals and Barlow taking the bass position, the duo brought in drummer Murph and the trio began a musical journey that included albums such as DINOSAUR (1985), YOU’RE LIVING ALL OVER ME (1987), BUG (1988), GREEN MIND (1991), WHERE YOU BEEN (1993), WITHOUT A SOUND (1994), and HAND IT OVER (1997). By the time Dinosaur Jr. ground to a halt, J Mascis was the only original member left of the founding trio. He then released solo singles plus albums with J Mascis + The Fog, Witch, and the reunited Dinosaur Jr. and several live releases before issuing his debut solo album, SEVERAL SHADES OF WHY, in 2011. In between playing and recording with Dinosaur Jr. and his other side projects, he continued to release solo albums including TIED TO A STAR (2014) and ELASTIC DAYS (2018).
J Mascis returns in 2024 with his fifth solo album, WHAT DO WE DO NOW. Coming three years after the release of Dinosaur Jr.’s SWEEP IT INTO SPACE, this new album started to take shape in his Bisquieteen Studios during the waning days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mixing both electric and acoustic guitar, the album is, sonically, a far cry from his early days with Deep Wound and Dinosaur Jr. However, the passion and originality still burns bright in his recordings. He has evolved in the 40+ years he’s been making music, and he is always offering something new with each release. On WHAT DO WE DO NOW, J Mascis handles most of the instrumentation, although the album does feature guest musicians Ken Mauri (piano) and Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (steel guitar). With tracks such as “I Ran Away, “Garden,” and ‘Set Me Down,” this is an album that builds upon his legacy while also reminds us of why we love him in the first place.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW