J Masics, 2011

Longtime fans of former Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis are quite familiar with his affinity for playing guitar at ultra-high levels of volume. Listening to Mascis’ latest offering, Several Shades of Why (Sub Pop) probably comes as a quiet shock to many devotees.

On the new disc, the singer/guitarist takes a very different approach to the recording, instrumentation, and volume level of his songs. Swapping the crank of the volume knob for a more delicate game plan, he veers away from the usual wall-of-sound toward a more sparse and strummy soundscape.

Recorded in Amherst, Mass., at Bisquiteen Studios, Several Shades of Why is almost entirely acoustic-based. Mascis enlisted a team of musical colleagues to help out on the sessions, including Kurt Vile (with whom he touring this month) and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses.

“It’s basically all acoustic,” Mascis says of the new album in a press release. “There’s some fuzz, but it’s acoustic through fuzz. There are no drums on it, either. Just one tambourine song — that’s it. Going drum-less pushes everything in a new direction, and makes it easier to keep things sounding different.”

Mascis plays a string of road trip-worthy solo shows next week, included a gig at the EARL in Atlanta on Thurs. April 8; the Melting Point in Athens on Fri. April 9; the Grey Eagle in Asheville on Sat. April 9; and the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro on Sun. April 10.

Visit jmascis.com for more info.

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