Two by two, reviews

 

Mac DeMarco:
Here Comes the Cowboy
On Caroline Records

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Mac Demarco, taken by Kiera McNally (From artists website)

Mac DeMarco‘s Here Comes The Cowboy is the fourth album from Canadian Indie Rock guitarist from Edmonton, Alberta, and it is a record that appears at first glance to relate pretty heavily to growing up in the hills of the midwest of Canada.

While DeMarco comes from the grungier end of rock this record is probably best described in his own words:

“This one is my cowboy record. Cowboy is a term of endearment to me, I use it often when referring to people in my life. Where I grew up there are many people that sincerely wear cowboy hats and do cowboy activities. These aren’t the people I’m referring to.”

He’s not wrong.

The first track is a simple introduction, in so far as it has one lyric, Here Comes The Cowboy, which is repeated ad infinitum from start to finish, three whole minutes of it as it happens. You could drop a pin in any moment of this song and it would sound exactly like any other.

We always considered the story as an integral part of the cowboy musical bag, apparently not. He does make up for it across the remainder of the record though, to be fair to him, Nobody is a plucky, gently story where he opened up a songbook and his voice. Finally Alone hints at influences from elsewhere, in this case, it’s a little 70’s soul, which is odd for a cowboy album, it’s a great song, it just seems out of place.

Little Dogs March and Preoccupied don’t stretch the tale much further, Choo Choo gives us more of the 70’s funk and soul and it’s a lovely thing for it, coming in at 2.40 it’s short but very sweet and just scratchy enough to make you love it.

K, Heart to Heart and Hey Cowgirl are in the same vein, giving him a little room to move around and find a little more depth as he goes, On The Square, feels like it’s a note out in places and if we’re brutally honest we didn’t make it to the end, it’s slightly disorientating, oddball twangs and unusual pacing that set your heart rate off.

All Of Our Yesterdays goes back into the country fold a little, sounding like it’s been recorded in a bare room in the hills around Edmonton somewhere, Skyless Moon plays on that disorientation a little more and Baby Bye Bye takes a leaf or two out of the country feedback cookbook, if it had been thrown into the trunk of a station wagon with Hendrix and James Brown.

Baby Bye Bye and Choo Choo are probably the highlights for us in a record that isn’t nearly as country as DeMarco would have you believe.

 

 

Fat White Family
Serf’s Up
On Domino Records

 

 

FWF
Fat White Family, taken from their website (Photographer uncredited)

My first experience of Fat White Family was running into a venue during a festival to take a few pictures for a magazine, I didn’t have very long as I had about five shows to cover. Before I even managed to get my camera out of my bag one of the lads, I can’t remember which, was to be found hanging upside down, dangling from a lighting rig by the back of his knees while still playing guitar.

You can imagine my surprise.

Their third record has surprised me again. Serf’s Up sees them seemingly grow before our very eyes. The Fat Whites always seemed like a band that could explode into absolute chaos at any point, you were always waiting for one of them to throw a punch, but here, with Serfs Up, well, they’ve grown.

It is an accomplished piece of work, Feet is pure disco, pure pop grunge, at 5 minutes 20 it’s a statement of sorts, marking a return from a tumultuous time. There have been actual fights, addiction, departures and a lot of subsequent healing.

It has obviously had a huge impact.

I Believe In Something Better is a slice of industrial pop, subtle thumping bass, it’s lush and mellow at the same time. There has been a lot of time in a studio slaving over this.

The Fat Whites‘ anger and wider considerations about the world are still there, thankfully. This is blindingly obvious on Kims Sunsets, a swirling, jangly, orchestral infused number about Kim Jong-un lovingly looking over his nuclear arsenal, as you do.

Fringe Runner brings a little more in the way of the Fat Whites we know, its horror movie soundtrack territory, crashing noises, demonic vocal overlays and the definitive Fat Whites harmonies.

Oh Sebastian drags a little, it’s just too 80s synth pop and lackluster with it for our ears, still, it’s not a bad tune and one the wind you down towards the end of the record.

Tastes Good With Money sounds like Fat Whites of old, half way between Marc Bolan and Arcade Fire. The remainder of the record gives us a much more chilled-out Fat White Family, Rock Fishes, When I Leave and Bobbys Boyfriend sound very much like one of their records, but this is definitely a more mature, chilled out record.

It still has all of their anger, all of their wit, but it’s like they’ve replaced the basement bars with a pair of comfy slippers, a pipe and a direct line to the Guardian letters page.

If you’ve come here looking for Breaking into Aldi you might be disappointed, but this is a record that grows on you, much like the need to write to The Guardian.

Not a bad bit of work at all.

 

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