J Mascis "Several Shades of Why"
Top Track: Not Enough Bottom Track: Too Deep 4 Nancies
The passion and creativity J Mascis muscles into his quiet album, Several Shades Of Why, is surprising. While going solo, the signature style Mascis developed in his band, Dinosaur Jr., shines brightly, but with an original folky spin. Mascis’ creative picking and strumming builds a sense of anticipation for each track as the previous one ends. Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses even stop by with ambient vocals, further adding to the hypnotic drone of Mascis’ voice and the laidback sound of the entire album.
“Listen to Me” opens the disc, foreshadowing the rest of the album’s simplicity. Keeping the basics in mind, the following tracks build off the fundamental acoustic melodies with flutes, a dubbed lead guitar, and violins. Swingy tunes like “Is It Done” and “Make It Right” are warm-hearted, carrying a relaxing summertime vibe. As the end nears, things get grungy with “Can I.” The slow, cautious strum of Mascis’ dark, steely rhythm is accompanied by the haunting lead of three high-pitched notes. Several Shades Of Why is a raw, acoustic album with honest lyrics amped up by emotionally unsettling, whiny vocals. As discordant as some of these components of the album may sound in theory, they come together to create a cohesive and powerful collection.