Several Shades of Why,
released this week on Sub Pop, presents an infrequently-seen (heard) side to
the modern-rock maven.
By Ron Hart
For a dude who spent the better part of 25 years redefining
the role of the electric guitar with Dinosaur Jr, it’s hard to believe that J
Mascis had to unplug to deliver his finest hour. Crafted with a bevy of
prolific pals, including Kurt Vile, A Silver Mount Zion violinist Sophie
Trudeau, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses,
fans of the guitarist’s stripped down 1996 live album Martin + Me will greatly appreciate the all-acoustic nature here.
It finds him in top playing form as he weaves pastoral
English folk into the comely title track, West Coast canyon harmonies on
“Not Enough” and hazy campfire rurality of “Can I.” Sure, the fuzz
creeps in here and there thanks to a little pickup abuse, but after listening
to the unfettered beauty of Several
Shades of Why you will witness a side of this modern rock maven that stands
in stark contrast to the feedback-drenched fury of his prehistoric past.