Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Song of the Day #293 - Mac DeMarco - Cooking Up Something Good

When life moves this slowly, just try and let it go...


When I was working on yesterday's post I was trying to figure out if there was archives of Hipster Runoff posts somewhere, and in the process found out that Carles has a BRAND NEW SITE which seems basically the same as HRO, but less popular. He complained when one of his articles started making the rounds, but evidently it didn't become so popular that I had heard about it. iirc a lot of the rhetoric around HRO ending was the pressure he felt from the growing popularity. So maybe this has accomplished exactly what he wanted. I hope so.

Anyways I'm very glad that Carles is back, he was a perspective solely missed in my current internet purview... his commentary is often extremely scathing and negative, able to dismantle grand cultural narratives into component memes, which can then be directly linked to extremely shallow interests of becoming rich and/or popular. It's a proven technique, and if the actual cultural product resists it, its audience is likely to be susceptible. The discourse of authenticity/motivation has never seemed more distant and irrelevant. This pitchfork article breaks it down really nicely, basically concluding that no one cares about that shit anymore. Something that can be sold as authentic is as good as the real thing, if not better due to its accessibility.

So what about Mac DeMarco? p4k can come to the conclusion that Meek is ultimately realer than Drake and that it doesn't matter, but they too rate and rank Drake higher in lists and scores, don't they? So obviously their viewpoint isn't wholly condemning. And thus Mac DeMarco, someone who's pretty well liked on p4k, is probably not going to have authenticity called into question as an element of his musical quality. I say "probably" because I'm too lazy to actually check. This is where we need Carles.

This article says some pretty scathing things about content creators that exploit the fact that (at least at the time this was published, over a year ago) Mac DeMarco was more friendly and willing to do interviews than anyone else at his "fame level", but seems fairly positive about the music of Mac itself, which makes me feel happy and validated and then lame for feeling like that. The thrust seems to be that it's hard to understand where a "breakout" "indie artist" fits into a landscape where "indie is dead". And that it also seems generally suspect when someone's public image is uncalculatedly goofy, but is so successful that it couldn't be more successful if it was calculated.

But idk. I think the conclusion we have to make is that it would make no sense for him to be "fake", financially or otherwise, and things like giving his home address and offering coffee at the end of his latest album, or accepting pretty much any publicity opportunity - no matter how degrading - is just how he is. It's a nice idea. And I think the proof is in the music, in any given song, in any given lyric. I chose "Cooking Up Something Good" not just as an atypically good example, it just felt right given that we'd looked at the first tracks of Another One and Salad Days.

Like those other tracks, there's an immediacy that both defies structural expectations, and yet is somehow comforting... those hard panned guitars, that little bit of finessing, and then the full emergence of the band, it's like... a strange summary version of something that would take much longer on most albums, but still an acknowledgement of the appeal of these elements. This mixture of the familiar and the experimental puts you in a mode that feels... Bob Dylanesque, maybe? Like it's traditional enough that feels almost "preapproved", you aren't challenged to understand the appeal, but are free to look at what's being done beyond that, what new elements he's added.

The main thing here is the narrative, which has this cool "in the middle" perspective that also feels very Dylanesque. The way the first verse is innocent but the second verse reveals the degeneracy lurking beneath is very neat, but isn't such a "puzzle" or a "twist" that it becomes challenging. And the way his local situation gracefully expands to the universal in the chorus... ahh, it really does seem like music borne of that sort of revelation... some days you just gotta recognize that your life is going slow, your blog is unscalable and your job prospects are nonsense, and you just gotta let it go.

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