The first time I saw Icarus Himself was in May 2008 – back then it was just singer Nick Whetro, and he was opening up for Owen. In the passing years Whetro expanded his project into a full band, put out one of our favorite songs (“Digging Holes“), and made us this mix. On Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, the band will release their second full-length, Career Culture. Until then, you can listen to Nick’s mix, check out the band’s website here, and hit up their CD release show on Saturday, October 8th in Madison (FREE!).
01| (Don’t Worry) If There’s Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go – Curtis Mayfield
02| Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
03| Baby I Love You – Andy Kim
04| Baby’s Arms – Kurt Vile
05| Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears
06| Pictures of Lily – The Who
07| Don’t Cry – Deerhunter
08| Strangers – The Kinks
09| On Some Faraway Beach – Brian Eno
Primarily an album centered on acoustic guitar and voice, Mascis lets listeners in on something that’s intensely private but lacks the voyeur effect. At the end of the first track he repeats the phrase “listen to me” and it’s impossible to think of doing anything but what he asks.
Mascis plays out a nice range of sounds on Several Shades of Why, from the catchy single “Not Enough” to the total downers “Can I” and “What Happened” at the end of the album (don’t let the fact they’re a little gut-wrenching turn you off; they’re both highly listenable, and isn’t the point of music to make you feel something?). The album’s high point comes with the back-to-back placement of the pretty, floating, echoing “Very Nervous and Love” and the honest “Is It Done”. Unfortunately, the strength of “Is It Done” shines a harsh light on the next and least successful track on the album – “Make It Right”. While not a bad song, exactly, it has a faint smack of hippy-dippiness that doesn’t quite sit right with the overall feel of the album.
This one hang-up aside, Several Shades of Why is a lovely album, full of feeling and easily worth investing some time in whether you’re a long-time fan or just in search of a new voice to fall in love with.
Several Shades of Why dropped 03.15.11.
Learn more about J Mascis here, and click to download “Not Enough” and “Is It Done“.