If you are not familiar with Dinosaur Jr. then you are obviously not a fan of alternative music of the 80’s. Shame on you! If you are familiar then you do know J. Mascis, the band’s white-haired front man and guitar player. The band made a living in the late 80’s and early 90’s playing fuzz drenched slacker rock that garnered them a small, but loyal, following. They never achieved the same cult status as Sonic Youth or the Pixies but they were able to carve out a nice niche for themselves and, like Sonic Youth, they are still touring and putting out great music.
Mascis has also released a series of solo albums and his newest one, Several Shades of Why?, is out now on indie powerhouse Sub Pop. But you have to remember, this is a J. Mascis album not a Dinosaur Jr. album. Much like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore has done on his latest solo effort, Mascis has chosen to eschew the feedback laden guitar sound that made his band popular. Instead he has gone for a much more intimate, singer songwriter feel and for whatever reason it works.
“What Happened?” is my favorite track from his latest. It is a slow blues number full of slowly strummed acoustic guitars that beautifully highlights Mascis’ heartbroken vocals. You can also see him perform the title track live here at Pitchfork.
J. Mascis – What Happened?