In 2015, in peak position at number 25 on the Billboard charts for Top 200, you will find my boy Mac Demarco’s album Another One. Maybe you’ve heard of him, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, that’s fine because I’m gonna talk about him here in this last music theory blog post.
I first heard Mac Demarco about a year ago, maybe at the end of two years ago, from an audio post on tumblr which was European Vegas from his first (garage recorded sounding…) album Rock and Roll Night Club. I’m still happy that, that was the first song of Mac’s I heard because it was probably the best among his worst because the recording alone sounded awful, yet, I was intrigued. The guitar part and drumming really reeled me in into seeing Mac at his best.
With him being a talented musician, it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with his music as I discovered another song of his from an audio post which was My Kind of Woman from his album, 2. This song really opened my eyes to his second album which I consider my favorite of his, and I never felt like I had to question his music until recently. One day I was just driving to school listening to his album and realized how inspired he was by old school rock; and I’m not talking Guns N Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, or Led Zeppelin. No. I’m talking about the pop rock that emerged from the ’70s, but also something a little older than that. The early Beatles.
We of course remember Led Zeppelin for what it was, but we don’t quite remember Robert Plant’s pop rock work in the ’80s. The same, almost, with the Beatles. When we think Beatles, we think of the stuff we hear from them in commercials like Hello Goodbye, or All You Need is Love as well as beloved favorites like Let It Be and Yesterday, and finally the album art for Abbey Road. What we don’t always think of, unless we’re a casual fan (or have their Rockband game), are things like Nowhere Man and If I Needed Someone. My question is, how did Mac manage to blend elements of ’80s pop rock, and mid-Beatles to create the rock music he does? I’m going to look at two of Mac’s albums, 2 and Another One, as I think they carry diversity, and represent him and overall career pretty well.
As far as the ’60s element goes, songs Dreaming and Ode To Viceroy really caused me to think about the Beatles with the guitar tone, as well as relaxed drumming and tempo that resembled a couple songs from Rubber Soul. Another Beatle-esque element of the song would have to be the use of borrowed chords as they did in In My Life. Cooking Up Something Good, and Freaking Out the Neighborhood seem Beatle inspired musically of course, but also in lyrical content as they both tell stories that get a little twisted as they progress, both reminiscent in that way of Norwegian Wood and Nowhere Man.
In the ’80s category, the only song I can really think of is My Kind of Woman, and even then, it blended with the ’60s elements as far as guitar tone went. The ’80s element to this song was really the use of a synthesizer type instrument which followed the guitar which was something they would do in the ’80s. Another One was really a big album that resembled the ’80s as it was primarily synthesizer/keyboard based. Songs like Another One and A Heart Like Hers reminisced a blend of I’m In The Mood and Thru’ With The Two Step from Robert Plant’s 1983 album The Principle of Moments.
I personally find Mac’s music to be cool, enjoyable, and sometimes, even relaxing. The blend of the two decades, and genres allowed for oddly beautiful songs like My Kind of Woman, and Ode To Viceroy. His talent as a song writer, for me, is very fresh for the on-going rock scene, all while telling a story, or writing a love sing à la Paul McCartney, teetering, and balancing the sound of the mid 1960s, and the early days of pop rock from the 1980s.
Feel free to listen to this pretty little live acoustic version of Dreaming from 2 by Mac Demarco.