J Mascis – Several Shades Of Why [Album Review]

by oz on April 12, 2011

The name J Mascis may not immediately ring a bell with you, but if you were watching MTV in the 90’s, you’ll remember a Spike Jonze-directed music video with Mascis using New York City as his golf course. Remember Dinosaur Jr.’s song “Feel The Pain?” Ah, yes. The 90’s truly are the new 80’s.

J actually founded Dinosaur Jr. in the mid-80’s as its singer, songwriter and guitarist. His vocals are unmistakable and his guitar prowess earned him a signature fender guitar – The J Mascis Jazzmaster. Considering his longevity in Dinosaur Jr. and his many projects thereafter (including J Mascis and The Fog and J Mascis and Friends), it’s surprising that it took this long to get a true solo album released. But Several Shades Of Why was certainly worth the wait.

The album starts with the warm, acoustic track “Listen To Me” that sets the tone for the rest of the album.  Several Shades Of Why is a mature and sentimental acoustic album where the guitar strings and song lyrics step out into the forefront. The album’s title track follows “Listen To Me” and it’s an easy favorite for me. It begins with a beautiful guitar arrangement that opens up with another layer of acoustic guitar, violin and the first lines from J:

There’s no peace, little comfort, no one’s shoulder
Not a wrinklings of a time that made you colder
I’m not saying much I tried hard that’s all I do
Tried and waited then got tired, that’s about it
With my time
With my time

“Not Enough,”  “Nervous In Love” and “Is It Done” are next in line and punctuate an amazing first half of a brilliant record. To be honest, I can’t say much more about this album because I’ve been stuck on these first five songs, but I know it’s incredible. I’ve always like J’s raspy voice, which is an obvious prerequisite, but there’s enough songwriting juice in here to keep me busy listening for weeks.

Mascis will be back in the States for west coast tour dates at the end of this month.

J Mascis – Is It Done

J Mascis – Not Enough

Video: J Mascis – Not Enough (Live at SxSW 2011)

Video: J. Mascis – Not Enough (Official Video)


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris P April 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

This is a damn good album, per your suggestion I went ahead and bought the record after only hearing a couple of the songs and I am glad I did. Reminds me of Pete Yorn at times but Mascis is definitely the original voice.

The Looch April 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I have to agree with this review. I was concerned this album would be a continuation of Martin & Me, but it’s much better than that.

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