The Voidz are the reliably batshit experimental rock band Julian Casablancas seems to care a lot more about than the Strokes these days — in fact, he seemingly used their 2018 album Virtue as a vehicle for airing his grievances about the Strokes. Back in May, the Voidz released their first new song … More »
Bafflingly successful indie-rock star Mac DeMarco has been busy touring Europe in support of his recent album Here Comes The Cowboy. And at his last few shows — in France, Amsterdam, and England — he’s been trotting out a brand new song called “I Like Her.” It sounds like a pretty … More »
When this decade began, MP3s still reigned supreme. Now, at the end of it, a song is no longer even a file — it’s ephemera, on every streaming service and available to hear in myriad ways. For better and worse, the song (and the single) have become the norm for the general public’s music consumption. More »
Mac DeMarco’s latest LP Here Comes The Cowboy dropped in May, becoming his first top 10 album and extending his remarkable rise to crossover stardom. About a month later he and his band made their way to Jimmy Kimmel Live to film an extended set of chunes. (I feel like DeMarco … More »
This past spring Mac DeMarco joined LA twin brothers the Garden on a song called “Thy Mission,” the product of a day at DeMarco’s home studio. DeMarco’s exact role on the song seemed unclear to me at the time, but “They Mission” now has a video in which DeMarco’s involvement is abundantly evident. More »
Right now, Julian Casablancas seems to be on a mission with his band the Voidz. He is working as hard as he can to get as weird as he can — and to make sure that nobody will ever confuse the music of the Voidz with that of his other band, the Strokes. Last year, … More »
Mac DeMarco’s fascination with cultural flotsam is well-documented, and it’s what animates things like his creeped-out animated video for “Here Comes The Cowboy.” And when a camera crew comes to his house, he can’t help but show off all the weird shit that he has picked up over the years. More »
Sometimes you enter into a pop cultural universe late and have to work backwards to fill in the gaps. Maybe you’ve decided to binge several seasons of a popular TV show to participate in the discourse, or you’ve fallen headfirst into a musical subgenre and now have a whole canon to educate yourself on. Maybe … More »
The laid-back and baffling indie rock star Mac DeMarco has a long history of making weirdly disturbing music videos. Just a few days ago, he came out with his clip for “On The Square,” and it was packed absolutely full of freaky and elaborate vinyl festish masks. Today, DeMarco releases his … More »
Here Comes the Cowboy
[Mac’s Record Label; 2019]
Mac DeMarco is a formula musician. That’s not a bad thing. He has a passion for A&R rock, but on Here Comes the Cowboy, he leans toward the singer-songwriter motif moreso than the controlling maestro persona of previous releases. We know that Mac records all his albums by himself, and the cowboy motif here only reinforces any sort of solitary confinement he seeks. It’s a convenient out for how self-manifested aspects of his artistry are, straddling the line between casual jokester and precise composer.
Here Comes the Cowboy arrives at a time when country music and its associated conventions are in flux. With “Old Town Road” being the juggernaut that it is, with several artists taking it upon themselves to fester a prideful reenactment of cowboy culture, Mac DeMarco’s charitable interpretation of the Western frontier’s heroes seems ill-advised. But it makes sense in a character arc that Mac would morph from lovable goofball making “jizz-jazz” to forlorn cowboy, world-weary by the endless touring and celebrity interactions that come with being a charismatic musician. In contrast to Be the Cowboy by Mitski, who changes between roles chameleon-like throughout, Mac asserts himself as the cowboy, just a lonesome soul tryna make it in this world.
Another reference point is Japanese pop musician Haruomi Hosono, one of DeMarco’s musical heroes. DeMarco has covered Hosono in concert and speaks fondly of him as a mentor in spirit, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Here Comes the Cowboy sounds awfully similar to 1973’s Hosono House. But there’s a lack. Maybe it’s the dynamism displayed on Hosono’s debut that makes it so intrinsically enthralling, but on Here Comes the Cowboy, the whole thing feels more like American gaijin vs. Japanese cowboy copypasta.
As Mac DeMarco’s image looms larger and larger over the legacy of this decade’s indie rock, it’s only natural he becomes more insular as a reaction. But despite the oblique cultural touchstones and off-beat sensibility, DeMarco isn’t exactly a lonesome cowboy in real life. Perhaps the cowboy persona conceals a deeper truth he hints at internally, but unfortunately we don’t find any such refinement on Here Comes the Cowboy. Mac DeMarco lives in his own world, and I don’t think we’re invited in.