J Mascis - Several Shades Of Why
Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis is feted as one of the greatest guitarist in indie/alternative rock history. Considering the way he makes the guitar sing, it's really difficult to argue against that point. On his new solo album though, he strips things down for an almost entirely acoustic effort.
Several Shades Of Why removes the fuzz, big riffs, and solos that we've grown accustomed to with Mascis. In doing so, it allows his songwriting to take the spotlight. Numbers like "Listen To Me" and ""Where Are You" show us just how under-rated and under-appreciated that songwriting has been over the years.
The more mellow tone of the record also allows other pieces of the arrangements to shine. The subtle twangy charm of "Is It Done", for instance, never would've been heard over the guitar din before. Ditto with the catchy multi-part refrain of the lead single "Not Enough".
The guitar work isn't any less impressive despite not being plugged in for the most part. The intricate work on the title track is as impressive as anything Mascis has done with his amp turned up.
Mascis does break out the trusty electrified instrument on a handful of occasions over the course of the record. When he does though, it acts as more of an accent piece rather than the focal point.
A handful of tracks do lag. "Make It Right", for example, is so mellow it makes you drowsy. A tinny quality infests "Can I", distracting you from the gravitas of the introspective song.
Several Shades Of Why won't make you forget the best output of Dinosaur Jr. However, it does serve as a refreshing change of pace and gives us another perspective from which to enjoy an artist we all thought we knew so well.
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