list.co.uk/music ALT ROCK J MASCIS Elastic Days (Sub Pop) ●●●●●
COVERS TY SEGALL Fudge Sandwich (In The Red) ●●●●● RECORDS | MUSIC
Since Dinosaur Jr’s reformation in 2005, lead songwriter J Mascis has balanced his output between the influential 1980s punk band’s noisy discography and his own typically more reserved sound. Elastic Days is the fifth studio album released under the J Mascis name and certainly adheres to the trend his previous solo outings have set.
Recorded at his own studio with Mascis playing nearly all the instruments, Elastic Days has the breezy and lackadaisical charm of someone who has found a groove and settled into it. All 12 tracks on the album clock in at under four minutes, and as a whole the record never demands too much from the listener.
The majority of tracks are led by a gentle acoustic strum, with the occasional electric squall sidling gently alongside and only taking the spotlight in the final minute of a song.
The album plays out in a post-psych melancholy haze, although tracks
like 'Cut Stranger' and 'Sometimes' rescue it from descending too far into depressed dad rock. The latter, in particular, injects life into the back half of the album with an unexpected tempo change. More of these stylistic moves would be welcomed to force listeners to sit up and pay attention in the way Mascis has done so many times in his other guise. Despite this lack of edge, the moment Mascis’ voice starts on opening track
Where does Ty Segall find the time? 2018’s already brought his tenth solo album in as many years – the excellent Freedom’s Goblin, which is soaked in fuzzy riffs and soaring hooks – as well as Joy, a full-length collaboration with White Fence. That barely scratches the surface of the last decade; this most prolific of artists has gifted us live albums, cassette releases, and a collection of T-Rex covers in that time. His latest effort is another album of other people's songs and it’s a blast. To his credit, Fudge Sandwich, a collection of Segall’s take on eleven songs, doesn't feel like a throwaway effort at all. It's a valuable tour through a record collection that's been listened to and loved, and the results are frequently surprising. War's classic 'Low Rider’ (slowed down and shorn of that instantly recognisable saxophone riff) is unrecognisable here, reimagined as a sinister industrial soundscape. The frantic punk of the Dil's 'Class War' is given the power pop treatment, ending up like something from Big Star's #1 Record. The irresistibly groovy 'Hit It And Quit It' from Funkadelic's Maggot Brain gets a stoner rock makeover, the funky guitar riff given some punishing muscle. You'd be hard pressed to dance to it, but don't be put off by that. Sometimes it's just a pleasure to hear great songs played well with passion. There's some distorted guitars on a soulful rendition of John Lennon's 'Isolation', but the main lesson learned is that the ex-Beatle was an incredibly gifted songwriter.
'See You at the Movies', he brings with him decades of experience, and the reassuring comfort that comes with that. Each track has just enough personality to stop them from becoming indistinguishable, although there is nothing on here to win Mascis any new fans – this album does not give the impression of a man trying to break new ground. Instead it sounds like a man happy to have a gentle conversation with himself and his faithful fans. (Sean Greenhorn) ■ Out Fri 9 Nov. Fudge Sandwich’s greatest achievement might be that it introduces the younger members of Ty Segall's devoted fanbase to the krautrock of Amon Düül II, to the never ending archives of Neil Young's brilliant back catalogue, and to Funkadelic, a bizarrely underrated group in the guitar music stakes. Think of it as a mixtape from a friend. An old-fashioned present, but done well, one that can be a companion for life. (Craig Angus) ■ Out now.
AMBIENT POP EIKO ISHIBASHI The Dream My Bones Dream (Drag City) ●●●●● PSYCHEDELIC POP HEATHER LEIGH Throne (Editions Mego) ●●●●●
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eiko Ishibashi is known in Japan for her innovations in avant-pop, skills in improvisation and brilliantly experimental solo albums which take her to varying realms of jazz, classical and contemporary composition. Her latest full-length release arrives four years after her indie-pop solo album Car and Freezer, during which time Ishibashi also worked on Kouen Kyoudai, a collaboration with Merzbow; and Ichida, her collaboration with Darin Gray.
The Dream My Bones Dream, her sixth solo record, sees Ishibashi once again team up with American musician and producer Jim O'Rourke for an emotional and cinematic journey through her family history, prompted by the discovery of her father's childhood photos shortly after his death. The album is full of intricate layers, a banquet of textures and tempos that includes the odd motif signalling an element of familial history, like the chugging rhythmic details in 'Iron Veil' which reference Ishibashi's grandfather, who worked as a railroad man in occupied territory.
Heather Leigh follows 2015’s justly celebrated I Abused Animal with an album of sensuous gothic pop and dark psychedelia. Throne is not so much a departure from its predecessor as a radical expansion, bedding subtle layers of synth, drum machine, bass and violin in behind her striking voice and pedal steel guitar. Throne is gothic in the broadest sense, with Leigh conveying the beauty and terror of the Romantic sublime. 'Prelude To Goddess' and 'Lena' are complex reflections on femininity, full of yearning and awe. The former deploys ecstatic end-phrasing reminiscent of Kate Bush’s channelling of Molly Bloom in 'The Sensual World', as the object of Leigh’s infatuation is elevated to mythic status. The latter has a conspiratorial intimacy that suggests it could be an ode to a friend or a lover, but it’s dramatic too, as Leigh’s crystalline voice soars over rumbling timpani and bass.
Opening track 'Prologue: Hands on the mouth' sets the overall contemplative Leigh transforms the pedal steel’s high and lonesome quality into a heady
tone of the album, with a cacophonous backdrop of horns, feedback and droning strings giving Ishibashi's melismatic vocals a brutal edge. Elsewhere, there are moments of warm ambience, as in 'Agloe' and the pensive and serene instrumental piece 'Silent Scrapbook'. 'A Ghost in a Train, Thinking' is similarly hypnotic, with circular rhythms that build alongside the repetitive melody, and the string harmonies reflecting Ishibashi's beguiling Japanese vocals in title track 'The Dream My Bones Dream' are somewhat reminiscent of a dulcet Disney pop ballad. The contrasts throughout the album are adventurous and affective in their addition to the narrative, with the album often making swift shifts in mood, for example from the nightmarish and tension-filled to the soft and piano-led in a matter of minutes. Ultimately, The Dream My Bones Dream is an eerie yet beautiful exploration of genre and sound, retaining an array of ideas without ever feeling overdone. (Arusa Qureshi) ■ Out Fri 16 Nov.
and reverberant sound that takes in Jack Rose-like picking, stark melodic figures and searing riffs. 'Soft Seasons' is driven by the latter, with Leigh’s distorted pedal steel scything through the night sky, as a drum machine grinds out an industrial pulse.
'Gold Teeth' is the album’s centrepiece, a 16-minute epic that fully justifies its length. Leigh glides back and forth between two finger-picked chords,
creating a woozy backdrop to her recurring images of ‘diving into the sea’. Dark clouds of bass roll in, with a higher- pitched statement of the riff breaking through like shafts of sunlight. Later, she kicks in the distortion, dragging the ragged Americana of Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack to a dark and desolate plain. It’s genuinely psychedelic, drawing the listener into its twilit world, warping reality around it. (Stewart Smith) ■ Out now. 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 111 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 111