J MASCIS Several Shades of Why CD/LP

It’s hard to talk about certain records objectively because invariably there’s something sitting right below the surface that is obviously pulling the needle in one direction.  Fans of Dinosaur Jr. (residents of Earth in the 1990’s I’m looking at you) will certainly have this problem with Several Shades of Why.  I can’t quite place what it is that J’s terrible voice does for me, but it does it in spades.  I got my first whiff of my homer-ism when I quickly made a car-copy of the album to play on drives and so my girl could listen to it as well.  It was met with much less than enthusiasm and quickly (and I must say, aptly) dubbed as ‘dull’.  Now, over the past few weeks the record has made its way around the rest of my pals and met with a unified voice of praise.  What’s the difference between these critics?  Objectivity.

Credit to J for pulling in indie prince, Kurt Vile, to guest on these tunes and dress them a bit.  Kurt is becoming a force and this arena is one where he certainly shines.  Both J and Kurt share a muscular non-chalance in their playing and here it doesn’t seem ham-fisted or overly showy. That's about the only thing people aren't going to recognize however.

Now I have listened to this record more times through than any record I have written about (more than fifteen times) so it’s obvious I “like” it. The thing is, it doesn’t really do anything for me because it’s not really attempting to. Possibly, the strongest compliment I can give this record is just that. It crystallizes the J Mascis M.O.: “Eh, whatever.” [Sub Pop]

-Alan Price


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  1. China says:

    Oh, and that's all so true. I like Dinosaur Jr. a lot, but every time I pull out one of their records I think, man, he's a horrid singer, but so good at what he does. I'm not sure I know of anyone's girlfriend (other than myself, I guess) who's into them/him...

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