Minus the Dinosaur
After more than 25 years, J. Mascis is a name that is synonymous with heavy, crunching guitars and distorted melodies. As a respected pioneer of alternative rock, it seems odd that 2011 marks the first solo studio LP for the front man of Dinosaur Jr. Several Shades of Why is a record that breaks all the previous notions you had regarding Mascis’ work.
Simple and sweet are the words to describe this record from beginning to end. Do not be fooled; the man still shreds, but it is on a warm, acoustic-electric guitar sparkling with honeyed melodies. Of course, always present is Mascis’ trademark raspy vocals with a very different setting.
This album’s backdrop is a collage of various genres from folk to country and the blues to good ol’ Americana singer/songwriter ballads. “Is It Done” and “Not Enough” are folky little ballads sounding like laid-back hippie music straight from San Francisco’s bay in the early 1970s. The themes tightly wound beneath the percussion-less tracks do not divert to far from the grim, pain laced thoughts off any Dinosaur Jr. album. This album merely serves as a new delivery method, but Mascis is able to really highlight his abilities to convey emotion musically and with his grungy-soft, vocal roars.
“Very Nervous and Love” seems to be the standout track for it will sweep you off your feet through its gorgeous guitar riffs and beautiful melodic structure. The album’s title track is a wonderful ditty that is lazily whispered into the ears of the listener as the guitar is beautifully plucked like a majestic harp of the classical era.
All in all, the album is a great listen and well worth some time. It plays like a sweet music box of simpler days.