26 January 2013

J Mascis - Several Shades of Why

I purchased this before I even read who the artist was. Every now and then, I buy albums based solely on the artwork on the album. I have had some good purchases - Frank Black Teenager of The Year is still my best - I have had some poor purchases - Bush Sixteen Stone, but that is another story for later. Once I got out of the shop and read who this was by I was slightly surprised.  J Mascis is the lead singer and principal song writer in Dinosaur Jr.  Now while he has released many live solo albums, this is his debut studio solo album - and upon first listen it left me a little under whelmed.

When I put it on and got this acoustic folk album with its strange little vocals was not what I was expecting and thus it was consigned to the Sixteen Stone side of the record collection - whence it stayed for a long time without a fresh airing. The sound did not work for me, the guitar playing and other instruments sounded like they had been thrown together - everything about it just seemed so random for me.  But I did not get rid of the album for some reason.  I have no idea why, but it still stayed in my collection.

Then, at some point in November last year I put it back on. No idea why I reached for it, think I was playing three degrees of separation - pick 3 random albums without looking at what you’re picking. Once I put it on, suddenly it made perfect sense! It went from this custerfuck of an album to a beautiful, shoring, soul wrenchingly radiant piece of work. "Listen To Me" is just an understated opening, the title track is a fascinating insight into Mascis mind with its simple guitar and violin work, "Make It Right" is a statement of someone wanting help and gaining it - the whole album works so well as a whole.

If I had any remaining criticism, it would be that it is a little samey overall - however this is just looking for a point to pick. The album just continues to grow with each subsequent listen into a beautiful creature and I find new things on each track after each listen which I did not notice before. So simple, yet so effective. Random purchases are such a mix bag, and every now and then it will throw up a gem like this one.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

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