J. Mascis, alternative guitar god and singer/guitarist from Dinosaur Jr., is releasing a new project on May 8. It's called Heavy Blanket and is an instrumental power trio album. Here's a teaser video and the announcement from J's web site. The teaser track "Dr. Marten's Blues" has a great groove.
It was the summer of 1984, and a teenage J Mascis was bored. Sure, his band Deep Wound were still playing shows and melting faces. That band would prove to be one of hardcore’s seminal influences, but J didn’t know that then. Disillusioned with the direction that most of his hardcore heroes had taken, he wanted to start something new. He wanted to shed the pretentiousness and elitism that had risen around him – to slow things down and turn the volume way, way up. This new band would influence generations of disenfranchised youth while tipping their hat to their heroes of years past, before punk existed. And so: he needed a band.
He remembered a couple kids from his early high school days – stoner kids he’d always admired for their “who gives a shit” attitude. Those kids, Johnny Pancake and Pete Cougar, had been kicked out of marching band for smoking weed out of a tuba. Way better musicians than the marching band deserved, they’d formed a duo that was all rhythm section – no vocals, no guitar, a sick, punchy brew of Band of Gypsies and Japanese hard psych (Johnny’s uncle was a US Marine stationed on Okinawa in 1973. From his frequent visits to Tokyo, he brought home a killer psych record collection. And a mean dose of the clap). These were the guys he needed. He rounded them up and it soon became obvious that the heavy rhythms they created were the perfect backdrop to young Mascis’ insane, fluid ability on the guitar. The trio came up with six blistering tracks, named themselves Heavy Blanket, and set a date to record.
But then, tragedy struck. Johnny hit his head and nearly drowned while swimming in an old stone quarry in southern Vermont. His recovery was… incomplete. He gave up playing altogether and became something of a recluse, retreating to the relative safety of his grandmother’s basement. Disheartened by Johnny incapacitation, Pete moved out to Ohio to work in his uncle’s second-hand furniture store. He later did a stint in federal prison for repeatedly passing low-denomination counterfeit bills at the local Stop’n’Shop. Mascis went on to form Dinosaur jr, and the rest is history. The boys lost touch, and those blistering tracks were lost to history.
Fast forward to the winter of 2011. While on his semi-annual ski retreat, Mascis runs into an old friend. Johnny had emerged from his grandmother’s basement (having been forced to, once her demise stopped the flow of milk and sandwiches to his underground lair) and taken a job grooming the ski trails with a Snowcat. Convinced his long-ago accident was the handiwork of those schemers in Pearl Jam, Johnny begged J to reform the band. It was the only way to get back at them, he insisted. A quick search of Ohio prison records turned up Pete, living in a halfway house in Columbus. After securing the proper permissions from his parole officer, Pete boarded a Greyhound with the only recording of Heavy Blanket in existence – an old practice cassette. Building off those old tune structures, the boys – now men – have finally succeeded in fulfilling the promise of that long past summer.