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elastic_daysRainy days are great in Los Angeles; it lends another perspective to this sunny city, bathing seldomly under wet skies, LA looks cleaner, the food magically tastes better and my music becomes livelier. I tend to shorten the stacks, playing the same records over and over when it rains. I’ve conditioned myself to believe that Astral Weeks is synonymous with dew drops and suddenly will come out of my slumber on jazz. Art Blakey drums in rain time. It’s rare we get much here, so when it was on the forecast last week, it presented an opportunity to find new rainy-day favorites. Since time allowed, I filled my stem with something suited to be a catchall—in this case, a glass of 2016 Guillot-Broux ‘Les Genevieres’ rouge that was riding tableside, while I thumbed through my newer records.

One of the newest in my collection happened to be from Dinosaur Jr. front-man J. Mascis titled Elastic Days, released last November, and before I go any further, I must admit that I am big fan of their/ his music… an obsession that has stuck since middle school. J. Mascis’s new work was a pared down effort, more intimate, and I had given it a few casual listens earlier (when I first purchased it in December, amongst holiday shopping), but nothing as concentrated as this time.

I put it on the platter, spinning through the A side and immediately was awestruck. It took me back to when I first listened to Dinosaur Jr. The thing that has always struck me when listening to them, or later solo efforts, has been J’s delivery. The first song that I that I couldn’t stop listening to was Start Choppin’ thanks to skateboarding videos when I was thirteen. Start Choppin’ was one of the coolest songs I had ever heard; It began with a simple little pop riff and then unfurled into a layered masterpiece that fused everything from falsettos to epic guitar solos and would send me off running to purchase my first CD of theirs.

While Elastic Days doesn’t bring the power of ‘Where You Been’ or other Dinosaur Jr. releases—nor is it trying to—it demonstrates why J. Mascis will forever hold a special place—like Yo La Tengo—between my ears. His maturity and songwriting are simple, straightforward and enjoyable to listen to. The dude makes melodies look easy. As the years continue, the songs are distilled, so while he can shred on the guitar like a Jimmy Page, his perceived vocal diffidence provides an endearing counterpoint.

When the rain really came down, I noticed it again, but honestly the record wasn’t hitched to rain drops quite like Chopin’s prelude or even encapsulated in a pop tune like that of the Cascades. Elastic Days made me feel a little warmer than the current weather let on—a folksy vibe painted early evenings on sunnier days. A reprieve, in fact.

By the time I moved into the B side I was fully on board, I heard new material that felt like a natural progression of where some of my favorite Dinosaur Jr. tracks had left me years earlier. He featured duets and a wider tapestry of instruments, including trading in his own axe for an acoustic guitar on a few songs, but kept the record thematically true and warm.

I finished my glass of Pinot Noir as I reached ‘Elastic Days,’ the namesake of the album. The wine was docile, showing hibiscus, red berries and possessed a savory crunch that, although not a perfect pairing, was a good partner for the music as it allowed me to savor that well-shaped guitar line and those vulnerable lyrics.

There were a few other tracks that made me pause like See You At The Movies (the single), I Went Dust, Sometimes and Wanted You Around. This record was just so far beyond my expectations and remained on my turntable all weekend. The rain has come and gone, so has that bottle of Macon Rouge, but what I am left with is a deeper appreciation for J. Mascis.

What are some of your favorites to listen to when it rains?

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