Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco

"As I'm getting older, chip up on my shoulder…" is the opening line from Mac DeMarco's second full-length LP Salad Days, the follow up to 2012's lauded Mac DeMarco 2. Amongst that familiar croon and lilting guitar, that initial line from the title track sets the tone for an LP of a maturing singer/songwriter/producer. Someone strangely self-aware of the positives and negatives of their current situation at the ripe old age of 23.

Written and recorded around a relentless touring schedule, Salad Days gives the listener a very personal insight into what it's all about to be Mac amidst the craziness of a rising career in a very public format. The lead single, "Passing Out Pieces," set to huge overdriven organ chords, contains lines like "…never been reluctant to share, passing out pieces of me…" Clearly, this isn't the same record that breezily gave us "Dreamin" and "Ode to Viceroy," but the result of what comes from their success. "Chamber of Reflection," a track featuring icy synth stabs and soulful crooning, wouldn't be out of place on a fantasy Shuggie Otis and Prince collaboration. Standout tracks like these show Mac's widening sound, whether insights into future directions or even just welcome one-off forays into new territory.

Still, this is musically, lyrically and melodically good old Mac DeMarco, through and through. The crisp John Lennon/Phil Spector era homegrown lush production that could have come off Geoff Emerick's mixing board in 1972 with that peculiar Mac touch that's completely right now is still present. "Brother," a complete future classic, is Mac at his most soulful and easygoing but with that distinct weirdness and bite that can only come from Mr. DeMarco. "Treat Her Better" is rife with Mac-isms, heavily chorused slinky lead guitar, swooning vocal melodies, effortless chords that come along only after years of effort, and the other elements seriously lacking in independent music: sentiment and heartfelt sincerity.

We're only in Part 2 1/2 (one EP and two LP's in) of Mac's career. As you read this and as you hear the album on April Fool's Day of this year, he'll probably be on tour, or preparing for one… or maybe already writing new music. A relentless work ethic is something to be admired in today's indie music scene, but when it's of the quality Mac is giving us time and time again, it starts to turn from admiration to awe.

Tonstartssbandht

Andy and Edwin Mathis White are the duo known as Tonstartssbandht. Behind their made-up name (pronounced as tahn-starts-bandit) is almost a decade of sibling synergistic creative energy. The band began in August of 2007 in their hometown of Orlando, Florida. After spending their teenage years exploring the free landscape of improvised ensemble noise rock, they decided to focus their efforts on recording a few cover versions of songs from the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile / Wild Honey. Trained as choristers in their youth, the two felt no apprehension at the vocal task at hand. Having never worked together as a duo, expectations were neutral, yet with only a few songs completed their natural cohesion lead the covers project to begin shifting toward creating originals. By the end of the month Andy and Edwin moved away to their new respective homes in Montreal and New York City.

In these two cities the band continued under the restraint of solo writing, recording, and emailed collaboration. The confined living environments necessitated a reliance on the power of choral vocal loops, sampled rhythms, and digital music media. This method of songwriting and performance was carried through on three of their self-released 2009 albums An When, Dick Nights, and Maihama. Among these albums were also glimpses of their rock inspired past, with songs like "Midnite Cobras", "Haughty Deb" and "Welsh Souper" revealing a perhaps unexpected side of doom and blues riff affinity. In the fall of that same year, the brothers began performing frequently, mostly around the lofts and venues of Montreal. At their shows they strived to display both sides of the band's developing sound. Sometimes sets would begin with a few chaotic vocal looping tracks before jumping in to a raucous guitar and drum segment. Playing so often, they would also perform "electronic sets" and "rock sets" within the same week. Local label Psychic Handshake shared their rock side with the Midnite Cobras 7 inch in March 2010. One year later, Arbutus Records, which formed in late 2009 alongside the band's live development, released their first full length 12 inch Now I Am Become, with music returning to a mix of dooming rock and choral harmony.

In the years that followed, work and touring began to supersede that time once used for prolific recording. After a few years bringing the split psyche sets on the road, even while doing marathon train tours through Europe, the focus eventually shifted toward a simpler set up and doing more with the only their voices and live instruments. Their entire 2013 Spring tour was meticulously recorded each night by Andy. By then he had joined his brother at Le Wallet in Brooklyn and by the end of the winter they had mixed and spliced together an 80 minute selection from more than 25 hours of the European recordings. Entitled Overseas, and jointly released in June 2014 by Company Etc & Arbutus Records, the double live album was the perfect document of where their creative development had turned in the previous few years. It gave a broader audience the chance to at least hear how their performance were enrapturing listeners around the world. As they've continued to tour, the recording hasn't stopped. Full set live cassettes followed with Nantes, Hanoi, and Christchurch. After moving back to Orlando in early 2016, their new home studio album Sorcerer was finally completed.

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