Friday, June 10, 2011

Unmasking J Mascis

Come on wait for me
Is it done ...
Come on wait for me
Is it done...

We are not disciples of Dinasour Jr., so we admit we were only vaguely familiar with frontman J Mascis and his brand of indie rock. (Mostly we have never been able to get past the fact that he bears a striking resemblance to long lost Aunt Jane.) Now this is quite an admission since Mascis has been making his mark as a fret-shredding guitarist and songwriter for nearly 30 years.

It took the release of the acoustic album Several Shades of Why (Sub Pop) to bring Mascis into the Sanctuary's inner sanctum (Sis for those unfamiliar).  And now that he is here we are obliged to give the man his due.

Several Shades of Why has a good chance of winning you over. There are contributions from other artists,  but mostly this is a solo foray into Acousticville, where the thoughtful strumming and occasional lead riffs leave room for lyrics to be heard and digested. And what quiet, revealing paths they lead us down.  Check out the video for "Is It Done," easily the catchiest of the 10 songs, and you'll see what we mean.

Sometimes a great electric guitarist needs to turn down the distortion long enough -- or unplug altogether -- to hear the beating of his own heart. And by doing so the rest of us get to hear it too.

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