J Mascis' mostly acoustic new album has all the hallmarks we've come to expect from grown-up indie rockers making solo moves (piano! country flourishes!). But while the music may be growing more mature, Mascis is forever the vulnerable, heart-shredded, yearning boy, singing about his feelings in the same beat-down, reedy falsetto he's used over two-plus decades as Dinosaur Jr.'s leader. And though he plugs in for strategic, ripping solos throughout Tied to a Star, highlights like "Wide Awake" – his perfectly paired duet with Chan Marshall, which barely breaks a whisper – show that Mascis is now as skilled at quiet as he is with loud.
From The Archives Issue 1216: August 28, 2014