It’s all but inconceivable that J Mascis requires an introduction. In the quarter-century since he founded Dinosaur (Jr.), Mascis has created some of the era’s signature songs, albums and styles. As a skier, golfer, songwriter, skateboarder, record producer and musician, J has few peers. The laconically-based roar of his guitar, drums and vocals have driven a long string of bands—Deep Wound, Dinosaur Jr., Gobblehoof, Velvet Monkeys, the Fog, Witch, Sweet Apple—and he has guested on innumerable sessions. But Several Shades of Why is J’s first solo studio record, and it is an album of incredible beauty, performed with a delicacy not always associated with his work.
Recorded at Amherst Massachusetts’ Bisquiteen Studios, Several Shades… is nearly all acoustic and was created with the help of a few friends. Notable amongst them are Kurt Vile, Sophie Trudeau (A Silver Mount Zion), Kurt Fedora (long-time collusionist), Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Paulo Zappoli (Black Heart Procession), Matt Valentine (The Golden Road), and Suzanne Thorpe (Wounded Knees). Together in small mutable groupings, they conjure up classic sounds ranging from English-tinged folk to drifty, West Coast-style singer/songwriterism. But every track, every note even, bears that distinct Mascis watermark, both in the shape of the tunes and the glorious rasp of the vocals.