Mac McCaughan – “Dawn Bends”
Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan is about to return with a new solo album, his second. It’s called The Sound Of Yourself, and it’ll be out in September on McCaughan’s own Merge Records. The album arose out of a “clean slate” period starting back in January, as McCaughan had wrapped up a bunch of other projects. ““Each day is blurring into the next, so what are we doing today?” he said of his thought process behind the album. “How can I disrupt this? I think what resulted was a theme of subdued… ‘joy’ is the wrong word, but it’s at least comforting if not propulsive to have something open-ended to work on every day without any kind of structure or deadline or rules.”
McCaughan also shared a longer statement about the album:
You will hear the influence of records I’ve loved since high school (Eno’s Another Green World, The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, Bowie’s Scary Monsters, Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, The Durutti Column’s LC); CDs in rotation on my Walkman while on tour in the ’90s (Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II, Nobukazu Takemura’s Child And Magic, Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Gilberto Gil’s Refazenda, Unrest’s Perfect Teeth); and records I’ve been listening to a lot more recently (Yumiko Morioka, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Maria Rita). And of course I’m always inspired by the work of my peers including those who appear on this album. I am aware of the irony of an album called The Sound Of Yourself with this many guests on it!
With a Superchunk record, theoretically I “know what I’m doing.” With this record, I was usually just building songs from a sound or a bassline or an accidental loop and then reacting to that. I am using mostly tools that I’m not technically adept at, so the result is not “haphazard” because I think about it and work on it until it sounds like I want it to. But it’s usually coming at something traditional (an Oberheim drum machine, a Moog synthesizer) from an amateur angle, which to me is more interesting than “nailing it.” Trying not to overthink things. Most of the songs here begin not with a guitar (as they do in Superchunk) but with a drum machine pattern or a bassline or a loop found on an old sampler. It’s a balance of keeping the randomness and accidents while still having it sound like something I want to listen to.
Pacing-wise, I wanted to make a record that takes its time.
The title comes from something Amy Rigby talks about in her great memoir Girl To City to which I think anyone who has ever heard their own recorded voice can relate.
Along with the announcement, McCaughan shared a lead single called “Dawn Bends,” which he described as “a cautionary tale about getting a little too into the isolation.” The song feature’s Jon Wurster on drums and Yo La Tengo on bass, organ, guitar, and vocals. Check it out below.
01 “Moss Light”
02 “The Sound Of Yourself”
03 “I Hear A Radio”
04 “36 And Rain”
05 “Burn A Fax”
06 “Gen Ash”
07 “Circling Around”
08 “R Dream”
09 “Sleep Donor”
10 “Dawn Bends”
11 “Found Cricket”
09/23 – Wilmington, DE @ The Queen* [SOLD OUT]
09/24 – Holyoke, MA @ Gateway City Arts Center* [SOLD OUT]
09/25 – Woodstock, NY @ Levon Helm Studios* [SOLD OUT]
09/26 – Bethlehem, PA @ Musikfest Cafe at the ArtsQuest* [SOLD OUT]
09/28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool^
09/29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s^
09/30 – Washington, DC @ DC9^
10/01 – Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall^
10/02 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room^
* solo performance w/ John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats)
^ full-band performance w/ 75 Dollar Bill
The Sound Of Yourself is out 9/24 on Merge. Pre-order it here.