“Several Shades of Why” is the best album Eddie Vedder ever made as lead singer for the stripped Rolling Stones. Oh, wait. That’s not Eddie. The voice is a little too clear–no growl, no phlegm. And that’s not Keith Richards, either. It’s a little too precise. A little too gentle. Who the hell is this? J Mascis? That guy from Dinosaur (Jr.)? Oh, okay. That answers two questions: (1) Why it sounds like Pearl Jam; and (2) why it’s so fucking good.
Dinosaur (Jr.) are one of those bands to whom everyone who loves alt-rock owes a great debt, but they still remain largely unheard. People like to say they like them, but they don’t own a single record. Well, if you’re one of them: Shame on you. If you’re not: Good for you. You need to get this album.
Several Shades of Why is an unusual, intimate, largely acoustic album. It’s J’s only solo outing–and it’s completely different from anything he’s done before. Featuring guest appearances by the likes of Kurt Vile (whose “Smoke Rings For My Halo” will compete with this album for a lot on my best of the year list, I am almost certain), Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), and many other talented indie musicians.
This is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, hands down. It clocks in at ten songs, and every one is a keeper. Get this, and you’ll understand why everyone from Eddie Vedder to Kurt Cobain considered Dinosaur (Jr.) a major inspiration and influence.
And here’s a little hippie love on the video: