The Best Albums of 2014: #16 Mac Demarco – Salad Days

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It took me a minute to figure this guy out. First time I saw him at SXSW, I was certainly short of impressed. He looked like just another slacker with a guitar, so I wrote him off for a year. Then Salad Days came out to nearly unanimous critical acclaim and I gave him a whirl. And again, it didn’t make sense at first…Why does everyone like Mac Demarco? Then, on a rainy day (like today is, fittingly), I spun the record and mindlessly let the playlist flow into his debut record as well and something hit me: I decided to think of Mac as a chill-wave artist for a moment (like Toro y Moi, Washed Out or Neon Indian) and my brain finally started to understand his music. There really isn’t much of a difference from the vibes that Mac puts out from what we hear in the chill-wave movement; especially when he uses synth. He rounds out the vibe with an inherent gazy-ness and for that, let’s go ahead and dub him, Chill-gaze.

Mac Demarco, the chill-gaze prince. There’s really nobody else like him. An eccentric to say the least (he calls himself the “Pepperoni Playboy”) and with these chilled out guitar vibes, he makes me feel like I’m stoned and riding in the cab of a 1968 Ford F-100Salad Days is a complete work. You can listen to it start to finish and it’s gonna keep you in the same lovely spaced out mood through and through. Although there’s a couple stand-out tracks that are just super nice, smooth and generally agreeable. I know that doesn’t sound spectacular, but this an album for when you just want to listen to music and be in the moment without being totally floored. Mac does this on “Passing Out The Pieces” with his re-verby vocals and what sounds like a baritone or tuba in the background. He sings:”What Mama don’t know, has taken it’s toll…on me.” And I’m instantly transported to the porch of my old house in Santa Barbara, breeze blowing, leaves rustling. So chill.

“Chamber of Reflection” is a blissful moment that brings Salad Days to a head. It’s an introspective song that shows Demarco’s love of Eastern synths. He’s professed his affinity for Japanese composer Ryuchi Sakamoto and the melody of the song itself is an homage to 70’s Japanese synth artist Shigeo Sekito. And that’s pretty cool. Demarco, with his bright gap-toothed smile, puts me in my favorite kind of daze. Much like he is right now, with droplets of rain crashing to the ground outside of my window, I’m in the world of the Pepperoni playboy from British Columbia, who also doubles as the chill-gaze prince. Chill.

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