Release Date: May 8, 2012
Record label: Outer Battery
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Heavy Metal, Neo-Psychedelia, Stoner Metal
Aside from the obvious reason this Heavy Blanket album exists – as an outlet for Joseph ‘J’ Mascis to throw hard rock guitar shapes even more indulgent and OTT than his other ventures in the field – one wonders if there was a secondary agenda: highlighting the vapidity of modern music churnalism. You’ll get a feel of what I mean if you search the internet for info on Heavy Blanket, and come up with literally hundreds of blog posts and news nibs which all rewrite the band’s backstory, as detailed in the press release. There isn’t anything else to go on, so they pretty much have to, even though it’s clearly all cobblers that Mascis and/or associates invented for their own amusement.
If you believe everything you read, the band Heavy Blanket has a hell of a back story. According to the press materials for their self-titled debut, Heavy Blanket first formed in the early 1980s, while future Dinosaur Jr. guitar mauler J Mascis was still in high school. Looking for a musical outlet other than his hardcore band Deep Wound, Mascis started jamming with two buddies from school, drummer Pete Cougar and bassist Johnny Pancake.
J Mascis’ new side project Heavy Blanket is packaged with a backstory, one that began in the summer of 1984 involving a hero who chose to shed the elitism surrounding his upbringing. Together with his high school friends (Johnny Pancake, Pete Cougar) they smoked dope out of tubas, nearly drowned while swimming in an old quarry in southern Vermont where the incapacitation of Johnny led to counterfeiting bills and a never-recorded record, the band disbanding without finishing the “album of epic jams. ” Skip to 2011 and settle in the mountains of Stowe where Mascis runs into that old friend and convinces him to come out of hibernation and uncover the efforts that comprise this year’s Heavy Blanket.
Albums like these must be fun to make, but are they fun to hear? In the case of the self-titled first release from the J Mascis-bolstered, entirely instrumental Heavy Blanket, the answer depends on the attention span of the listener. For the past 30 (!) years, Mascis has been tearing up fretboards with Dinosaur Jr., Witch, the Fog, and others. And while he’s long since acquired the reputation of an indie guitar hero, this album is the first instance of Mascis going for broke with the six strings, as (no joke) 90 percent or more of the album consists of him shredding, hard, with few breaks.
The artist page for Dinosaur Jr. axeman J Mascis‘ new side project offers up a somewhat incredulous origin story involving the guitarist forming Heavy Blanket with high school friends who smoked weed out of a tuba. The songs on the record were allegedly written in 1984, but brain damage to one member and another’s incarceration for counterfeiting low-denomination bills prevented them from ever being recorded.