J Mascis has an ear for a tune. True, Dinosaur Jr were mainly known for their punishing sludge-grunge, but there was always a pop sensibility lurking beneath the feedback. Mascis’ 2010 solo album, ‘Several Shades of Why’, was full of gorgeous acoustic ditties with hummable hooks, but anyone putting on ‘Heavy Blanket’ expecting to hear the white-haired veteran live out his melodic side again is in for a shock.

There’s a barely credible back story to this project (involving stoner marching band members, a swimming accident and Eddie Vedder), but what you need to know is this: ‘Heavy Blanket’ is 37 minutes of overdub and vocal-free, dirty as fuck 70s psych rock, whose guitar parts basically consist of one epic solo. The thunderingly tight rhythm section is slightly evocative of a less fierce (but equally as lo-fi) Lightning Bolt, and Mascis has abandoned the honey-coated lead guitar sound usually employed on Dinosaur Jr for a screechy, filthy overdrive. One for the diehard fans, sure – but also surprisingly fun.

By Matthias Scherer

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