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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Stoned Moan with J Mascis and Several Shades of Why

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 2:31 PM

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This week's joint: J Mascis' Several Shades Of Why

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Behind the Buzz: To Dinosaur Jr. fans, the idea of a J Mascis acoustic album fails to spring unbidden into the mind's ear. On blunderbuss masterpieces like 1987's You're Living All Over Me, mainman Mascis founded a durably influential heavy sound that continued to blur the already notional distinction between classic and indie rock. For his first-ever solo album, J rounded up a large cast of sidepeeps and soloists, including Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene, Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell, and the engagingly spooky  Kurt Vile, appearing here on dobro, optigan, and saw.

Today's weed: 3x Krazy, a hybrid that induces the Dreaded Wobbly

Keyboard Effect.


Herbal hoedown: From the first note, its plain we're a long way from the artist's deafening origins on Long Beach hardcore label SST. J's voice, a little-acknowledged factor to Dino Jr's appeal, is now cracked and comfy as old patent leather, and well up to the tender-cowboy sentiments of "Listen to Me" and the title song. Two hits of the Krazy and it's like I'm in Appalachia, doing bongloads to the Ralph Emery show as the FM signal carrying it bounces off the limestone cliffs of Back Home, cuzzin. "Very Nervous and Love" reinforces this hillbilly ambient vibe with some virtuoso picking and creased wisdom reminiscent of Gram Parsons. "Is It Done" rocks harder, but that only puts us dangerously close to Bruce Hornsby & the Range territory. "Make It Right" and "Where Are You" meander winsomely through the cozmik sagebrush, but "Too Deep" is more melodic and less genre-bound than such high lonesome stuff. "Can I" is a sweet and trippy revelation of the solid melodic virtues underneath the screech and sludge of Dino Jr., and "What Happened" waltzes us out on the notes of incomprehension and loss you hear sounded in just the damnedest places these days.

Fire up next: Disregard the impulse to put on any Dinosaur Jr.'s SST sides and opt instead for Oar by Skip Spence. Let the weird times roll.


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