From his a planet of originality blanketed in vibey, low-key thumpy rhythms comes Mac DeMarco. Mac is his own extra terrestrial. At times expressing his sense of humor in obscure videos, Mac DeMarco is a creative outlier who mixes his signature soothing sounds like his own palette of paints. Creating unique combinations and landscapes that are truly him. Mac built his foundation on the basic concepts of having fun and being yourself, something most indie darlings boast about, but it pours effortlessly between each swimming trem and reverb chord. Known as the king of chill, Mac got his start in Vancouvers’s DIY scene making sounds with a garage band, but after relocating to the Montreal area, Mac developed his charming dreamy tones which he’s known for today. Mac DeMarco is known for his sharp writing in the shape of his early inspirations like John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, and Randy Newman. DeMarco found success with songs like “Ode to Viceroy” and “Salad Days” with his tastefully jangled guitar tone.
As Mac Demarco’s records have matured, his musicality has become more simple and emotionally complex at the same time, tracks like “My Old Man” shows off his vulnerable side as he serenades about his relationship with his father. And then another more recent track, “Nobody” featured above, shows him as a full lizard man. DeMarco goes full existential but finds a way to still make everything seem grounded and relatable.
The guitar is the people’s instrument. It’s very welcoming. A couple of chords and you’re ripping. If you ain’t trying to be something, then you’re just being yourself, and that’s you.Mac DeMarco in Ernie Ball String Theory
Make sure to keep up with Mac’s latest updates on his website and listen to some of his popular tracks below.
Mac DeMarco creates his tone with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky electric guitar strings.
The ultra merger of alt rock and electronic music finds an expressive edgy home with multi instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, Aaron Bruno “brain child” Awolnation. Awolnation is an act that is not only completely genre fluid but an explosive dynamic attack of creativity with a hooky approachable sound. One second you are dancing, next headbanging, then screaming. Awolnation broke into the mainstream with a multi-platinum international hit single “Sail” in 2011 released on Red Bull Records.
Following the success of the huge single, Awolnation released an EP, I’ve Been Dreaming as a free download on their website. Come 2015, the band released Run which featured the U.S. alternative rock chart topping single, “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”. Rising to the top 20 on the Billboard 200, Run was their highest chart topping LP to date. In 2018, Awolnation released Here Comes the Runts which led to their “Bandito Tour” alongside popular rock band, Twenty One Pilots. Now signed to Better Music, Awolnation has featured star-studded efforts with guest appearances from Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and Rivers Coumo (Weezer). Awolnation released their full length titled, Angel Miners & the Lightning Riders in April 2020 right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and it is a must-listen. Check out the multi-colorful music video above for the single “Slam” off of the record.
These songs feel very relevant now because I think everybody’s the same. They’re waking up, saying, ‘How do I get through this day without freaking out and watching the news for 20 hours straight?’ Or whatever it is. Everybody’s got the way of communicating or figuring out or navigating through this whole deal.Aaron Bruno to Grammy News
Get yourself through the quarantine blues by listening to Awolnation below and make sure to keep up with updates from the band on their website.
Since 1986, Tony MacAlpine has released thirteen studio albums as well as multiple albums with other artists, collaborations and composed pieces in genres ranging from shred prog/neoclassical metal and rock, to jazz fusion and instrumental rock. Tony has been a force since the start. Having been raised on classical piano by age five, guitar at twelve, and classically trained piano and violin at Springfield Conservatory of Music in Massachusetts, Tony’s arsenal of skills goes far beyond the typical shred. His pieces of music are layered, informed and genre bending, creating a space to be one of the most in-demand players for the last 30 years.
Along with his first solo album releases in the late 80s, Tony has also played on albums with Vinnie Moore, Joey Tafolla and eventually his own Heavy Metal supergroup, M.A.R.S. which included Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy, Whitesnake) and Rob Rock. It’s actually kind of difficult to explain Tony’s playing and contributions to the music scene without a person having a sonic experience of any of his work. Part “shred”, part melodic compilations and rhythmic syncopation, Tony creates experiences with his playing, instead of playing for straight speed, although he is no stranger to that either. When speaking about his classical training to Guitar.com, Tony says;
I started piano when I was 5, and didn’t start guitar until I was 12. Piano is the type of instrument that you can start at an early age, and from that point on you can branch off to other instruments fairly easily because of the nature of the way piano is laid out. You’re able to see things rhythmically, and you can see chord structures so vividly.Tony MacAlpine to Guitar.com
Tony’s latest tour got cut short by the world-wide pandemic but he will be hitting the road once the world goes back to normal, stay tuned on his website to find out when and where you can catch him.
After the Fall
Albany, New York’s After The Fall has been pumping out furious punk rock for about 20 years with very little interest in slowing down or compromising their ideals. One spin of any of their tracks, and you pick up on the influences of the Descendents, Face to Face, Propagandhi, Avail, NOFX and of course, the bitterness that comes from the Upstate, NY winters. Lead singer and guitarist Mike Moak tops off the band with vocals that range from melodic verses to guttural choruses, accentuated by not only breakneck speed music, but sprinklings of guitar solos that prove musicianship just as much as energy.
Over the years, the band has embraced their love for pop punk and classic punk over their obsession with ripping solos and playing as fast as possible, eventually bringing them full circle to record with their idols the Descendents at the infamous Blasting Room, tour Europe, the U.S., Australia and more. Now the band is gearing up for their latest release, Resignation, which arrives August 7th via Paper + Plastick and the band had the chance to record a single with Tim McIlrath of Rise Against (hear above).
After The Fall was a close-kept secret of hardcore-punk in the Albany, NY music scene for a while, but slowly the secret got out and now it seems their life experiences, ferocious playing, work ethic, and relatable frustrated vocal delivery and themes are beginning to hit the right chords with the public (pun intended). Check out their tracks below and get up to speed.
Hailing from Nashville, TN, we would like to welcome to the Ernie Ball family guitarist, Nico Barboza. Full of fast licks and runs, Nico is a variously talented guitarist who combines not only speed with passion but a tenacity for articulation and groove. Nico’s sense of musicianship surpasses many when you hear him break free from a jam and throw his own personal flair to the frets.
Whether it’s in worship groups with Leeland Mooring, collaborating with musicians from all over during the pandemic, or in The Circle Sessions in Chattanooga, TN. Nico Barboza is a talent we look forward to a bright future with.
Check out Nico Barboza’s many covers and performances on his Instagram and make sure to listen to his tunes below.
**Header image c/o: Christine Lai