Heavy Blanket

Heavy Blanket

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AllMusic Review by

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. The trio wrote a few songs and recorded some rehearsal cassettes, but after Cougar and Pancake got kicked out of school for turning a tuba into a bong, their lives took a number of colorful turns for the worse, with Pancake going into hiding after a bizarre swimming accident and Cougar sentenced to prison for counterfeiting. However, after Mascis and Pancake unexpectedly bumped into one another, they sought out Cougar and put the old band back together to cut the album they couldn’t make in 1983. And if you believe all that, maybe I could interest you in buying a bridge. Anyone familiar with J Mascis’ occasional turns as a drummer will notice that the solid yet busy style embraced by Cougar sounds an awful lot like his old high school pal, and Pancake’s basslines are very much of a piece with Mascis’ guitar workouts, suggesting the bandleader could simply have overdubbed himself into a rhythm section and gotten the same sound. Whatever the truth is behind Heavy Blanket, the results are the same -- this is a 37-minute blowing session for Mascis, who with only the most minimal melodic frameworks and no vocals to get in the way, simply reels off gargantuan riffs and acid-infused solo lines from beginning to end. Heavy Blanket is a classic-era power trio that fuses the Kiss the Sky vision of the Jimi Hendrix Experience with the blunt heaviness of Blue Cheer, though unlike those bands, Mascis didn’t really bother to write songs for these six stretched-out tracks. Here, the bass and drums set the groove, the guitar leaps howling into the stratosphere, and the whole thing ambles onward until Mascis decides it’s time to stop, sounding purposeful and aimless at once. Perhaps with a rhythm guitar, vocals, or occasional bridges or choruses, Heavy Blanket might have sounded more like an actual band and less like Mascis goofing around in the studio, but his guitar gymnastics are strong enough that this remains good, deafening fun throughout, and Mascis sounds like he’s having a blast cranking up the amps with his old buddies, no matter if they’re real or imaginary.

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