Mac DeMarco A King Of The New Mellow

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In the end, it all comes down to physics. If you speed up you eventually have to slow down. If you heat up, you gotta cool down. If you get high, you gotta come down. This is why Mellow Rock was invented. It’s like a Law of Nature. To everything there is a season – a time to kick ass and shout, and a time to chill and mellow out.

The problem with Mellow Rock is that it can so easily veer off into cheesy Easy Listening territory. You can tell the difference in three ways: the instrumentation, the lyrics and the attitude. At least one of those three things must meet general Rock standards in order to avoid the Cheese designation, and you really need two out of three to be safe.

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Well Mac DeMarco easily meets the Rock threshold in all three areas, which is why he one of the current Kings of Mellow. In his first two albums he’s carved out his Jack Johnson-meets-Mark Knopfler sound, with a vibe big on cynicism but surprisingly earnest at times too. Definitely some George Harrison and Ray Davies influence also. It’s been called Stoner Rock, and it is true that many Bros on Herbs are DeMarco fans, but he’s got lots of old-school fans too. As it turns out, Mellow is trans-generational.

DeMarco’s got a new album called This Old Dog coming out on May 5. These are the three songs released from it so far, and I think they are all very good. Where his Harrison/Knopfler-esque guitar dominated earlier albums, he widens his sound here with more acoustic guitar and electronic keyboards. But the great, subtle, original chord changes are still here, and so are the fine lyrical flourishes. “My Old Man” is really very beautiful, it belongs right up there on the list of great father songs. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the album brings. Better keep passing the pipe in the meantime.

 

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