Mac McCon did everything. For three decades, he has toured the world as a singer-guitarist for the venerable indie rock band Superchank. He has made music on other projects including Portastatic, Bricks, Sim and Go Back Snowball (including Guided by Voices Robert Pollard). And, he co-founded the venerable indie label Merge Records with superchunk bandmate Laura Balance. Together they helped redefine the American musical landscape by releasing hundreds of albums by legendary artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields, Spoon and Arcade Fire. But when the epidemic hit in early 2020, McCagan faced a whole new experience.
“I couldn’t write songs for eight months,” he said Spin On the phone. “I’ve been working on music before and then when we went to lockdown I really was … I don’t know. I was not writing songs. ”
This was a problem shared by many artists as Kovid-1 spread around the world. Fortunately, McGann had another big project that focused on Amy Pohler’s upcoming Netflix movie Score, Maxi. So, for most of the year he made atmospheric film music in his basement studio. He was inspired by the recordings of Brian Eno, Fennes, Hiroshi Yoshimura and John Hasel. Gradually, he was able to start the process of making music for himself again. He considered himself very lucky, but working from home presented some unexpected challenges.
“I discovered four or five keyboards that I had been colonized by rats a few years ago. There are no more rats around now but the inside of this keyboard has been destroyed,” he smiled.
By August 2020, McGann was able to start working with the music again, but in January 2021 it became clear that the ongoing epidemic was going to prevent SuperChank from personally recording the band. Merge Record’s ambitious 2021 lineup has already promised a few names from His Golden Messenger, The Mountain Goats, Torres, Lambchop, Fruit Bats, The Clean, Don Richard, Teenage Fanclub and Y Oak. To ensure a timely release, McGogan found himself in just two months to record and mix his new material. To compensate for the reduced timeline, he reached out to a group of friends for help from afar. Everyone worked safely and remotely. And as a result the album is different from its solo debut, 2015 Unbelievers. Own words McGann has plenty of skillfully created pop songs that have been consistently distributed throughout his career but they are swimming in a sea of trials.
Here is a very impressive guest list. “Found Cricket”, a rotating instrument made from a forgotten loop discovered in an old sampler, shows Mary Latimore, a frequent creative partner on the harp. He also appeared in the royal opener, “Moss Light”, playing McGann’s brother Matt Perkins. Groovy Synth Jam “Burn a Fax” features backing vocals on silky saxophones by Mackenzie Scott (Torres) and Matt Douglas (The Mountain Goats). Sabrina Ellis (a Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit) sang in the stopping “Slip Donor”. Michael Benjamin Lerner (telekinesis) and Annie Hayden (spent) rush, helping to the tune of New Order-Ish “I Hear a Radio”. And the main single, “Don Bends,” is taking on superchunk drummer John Worstar and the entire band Yo La Tango Buzz, organ, guitar and vocals. It’s a reassuring part of the slowly depressing folk rock that will delight everyone involved.
“I consider myself very lucky that everyone I asked was able to do it, had the time and the way to do it,” McGann said. “I think everyone’s contribution is amazing. They really improve it. “
The album is named after a piece from singer-songwriter Amy Rigby’s 2019 memoir, Girl to City, about the strangeness of recording your own voice and playing it back. Many themes have been investigated Own wordsIsolation and loneliness in particular are at the top of SuperCunk’s often overlooked 2001 album. Shut up here. That record, which was unfortunate to be released in the week following // 11, is ironic for a deluxe 20th anniversary reissue issue on October 22nd.
“Some of the songs look like they could be written right now,” McGann said. “It’s pretty weird.”
Hopefully, that isolation and non-friendship will quickly become a thing of the past as McCagan embarks on a tour to promote Own words. He starts with friend and labelmate The Mountain Goats and then meets the NYC Underground Duo with a 75 bill. Traveling during the ongoing epidemic will be another new experience and McCagon is committed to doing it safely.
When asked if there is anything he wants viewers to know is the exciting new direction The Sound of Yourself takes before they hear it at home or on the street, he considers it for a moment, then gives a terrifying warning. While “the first six minutes jam this crazy instrument with harp and synthesizer and trumpet and things like that, you know, there’s songs to follow,” he says, half-jokingly. “Hopefully people will take the album at its own pace. This is my hope. ”