Spring Music Guide: Woozy beachside jams

Mac DeMarco at the Danforth Musical Hall May 12 and 13


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Mac DeMarco put his home address on his last album cover

Mop-topped, hoodie-loving warbler Mac DeMarco is an unlikely Canadian music success story, producing off-kilter pop gems perfect for summer from the guest bedroom in his new Los Angeles home. But make no mistake, Mac DeMarco is the real deal.

The Edmonton native plays two sold-out shows at the Danforth Music Hall this month. 

He has developed a habit of producing the most disarming laid-back grooves, and he’s garnered an increasing level of acclaim with each new album. His latest, This Old Dog, out May 5, will surely continue the trend. Buoyed by a woozy sensibility, his music combines the best of sandy, beachside folk à la Jack Johnson with a side of the wrenching sincerity, bordering on obnoxious Velvet Underground.

The album is the followup to Salad Days, best known both for its Polaris Prize nomination as well as DeMarco putting his home address on copies of the album, inviting fans to come to his house in New York for a visit.

“A couple thousand people came over, but nothing bad happened,” he says.

“Sometimes it was weird and sometimes interesting, mostly just nervous young people. I lived in Queens, in Rockaway Beach, so it’s out there. The last stop on the A train, so if someone is coming, they’re really coming, you know.  So it was cool.”

DeMarco’s first gig was with his high school band the Meat Cleavers in front of “10, maybe less than 10” people at a skate park in Edmonton.

“We got really drunk and probably didn’t sound good at all,” says DeMarco. “It was really nerve-racking, but it was fun.”

When he was 18, he moved to Vancouver and joined the burgeoning no-wave scene, despite playing music that had no actual similarity to the genre. But apparently, he’s a fun guy to be around.

“At some point I just decided I like classic rock radio and thought maybe I should write songs wth guitar solos, and here I am today,” he says.

Every few years, DeMarco gets the urge to move, and although it took a while to warm up to the idea, he recently made the move to Los Angeles.

It was here that he finished what some are calling his L.A. record, which is just not a thing. He started working on songs for the album well before contemplating the move.

So sprawling is his new abode that he could at least move his recording equipment out of his bedroom and into the guest room. 

He’s always gone DIY with his records — playing all the instruments — and sees no reason to change. Another artist with similar proclivities is the late, great Prince, who DeMarco admires. But the similarities end there.

“He did it big time. It’s partially a control freak thing. But he was different, a meticulous, insane musician,” he says. “Me, it’s not as much like that. It’s just how I learned to do it, and I’ve always done it that way. I dunno, I’m just a cheap guy I guess.”

DeMarco plays the Danforth Music Hall on May 12 and 13.

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