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J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why

March 14, 2011 by  

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J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why

NAME: J. Mascis
ALBUM: Several Shades of Why
DATE: 14March2011

LABEL: Sub Pop


FIVE WORD REVIEW: Angsty But Lovely Solo Effort

LOCATION: Massachusetts, USA

LINE UP: J. Mascis – vocals, guitar, Brian Birdwell – vocals, Kevin Drew – vocals, clarinet, Kurt Vile – vocals, various instuments,

Several Shades.jpg

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Oh, to be J. Mascis. The man has been in every conceivable kind of rock band, playing every kind of instrument. Additionally he has acted, played a variety of sports from golf to skateboarding and at 45, barely a wrinkle on him. Jealous. Best known for the raucous Dinosaur Jr and the accompanying chilled out slacker attitude that prevailed in the 90’s rock scene, ‘Several Shades of Why’ provides an earnest contrast. On this first solo album proper, there is a stillness not usually found in his music. You may baulk at this prospect but hang in there, kids. All is well here.

SOUNDS LIKE: Despite the stripped-down ethos of the album and total lack of drums, ‘Several Shades of Why’ works well. Taken as it is – a thoughtful acoustic affair with delicate touches of musicianship, it’s really pretty good. Clearly a great deal of thought went into the compositions, nothing sounds thrown together and the guest musicians’ input shines through, particularly Broken Social Scene leader Kevin Drew whose vocals add a warm background to ‘Not Enough.’ Returning the favour for Mascis’ guest vocals on the ‘Spirit If…’ album of 2007, it’s great to hear their voices complimenting each other again.

‘Several Shades of Why’ is an extremely melancholy affair, lyrically centred around themes of lost love and delicate confusion. Opener ‘Listen To Me,’ is a near perfect demonstration of reflective yearning, Mascis’ voice sounding a lot like Dave Ghrol in his quieter moments wrapping around the guitar in soft sighs. Occasionally on the first listen this drags slightly, particularly towards the end of the album when ten tracks later the mood hasn’t lifted much and you find yourself jonesing for a bit of volume and distortion. In all honesty though, ‘Several Shades…’ is a consummate grower. While at first tracks may be skipped here and there, sticking with this album reveals subtle melodies and arrangements that may originally pass under the radar.

With this album, J. Mascis is certainly not going to set the world alight, but he has created a lovable little gem of a record that’ll please and bewilder his fans in equal measure.

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You’re prepared to give 10 wistful ballads a try. Go on, when they’re this good it doesn’t make you a pussy.


Submitted By Nadia



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