Mark Mulcahy returns with his brand-new LP, The Gus, released June 7 on the Mezzotint label. The Gus is Mulcahy’s sixth solo record and follows 2017’s dynamic The Possum in the Driveway and his celebrated 2013 return record, Dear Mark J Mulcahy I Love You.
Long heralded by contemporary luminaries like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and covered by artists such as The National and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Mulcahy refuses to rest on laurels and turn out the same type of album twice. Inspired to “up his lyrical game” while reading a collection of short fiction by George Saunders, The Gus finds the songwriter channelling his eclectic voice and ear for melody into the role of storyteller more than ever before. The result is ten infectious songs that combine Mulcahy’s unique window on the world with stories that absorb listeners more with each spin.
As in the best short stories, songs like “Wicked World” and “Later for the Box” take ordinary situations and deftly peel back the layers to reveal something far deeper occurring. “Mr. Bell” places Mulcahy in the shoes of Trump supporters. ”Daisy Marie wants to kill her love. Like all these “little stories,” as Mulcahy calls them, tries to cast light in the corners of the room while understanding that sometimes the truth remains in shadow. Aunts, uncles, couples, killers and secrets. The lead track,”Taking Baby Steps” grinds a metallic guitar into a gentle sing-song. “It’s the story of letting a long lost friend off the hook.”
“This album was such an exploration.” Mulcahy explains. “If anyone ever wanted to listen to all the takes we recorded, they’d be there a while.” He and producer Marc Seedorf (J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr.) began with the ambitious notion of recording the entire record with strangers. When that didn’t pan out, Mulcahy turned to regular collaborator Ken Maiuri (Pedro the Lion, B-52s) and others and they eventually found a groove.
“It took some time to get locked in,” Mulcahy admits, “but that made me think of some people and ideas I might not have otherwise.” Those people included Rain Phoenix, who lends her plaintive voice to one of the characters on tragic opener “Wicked World,” J Mascis, who lends his inimitable guitar sound to multiple tracks, John Panos (Augustines, Mates of State) and others. Mulcahy lets all of their musical personalities mesh with his instincts as a songwriter for a sound that drips honey, whispers, and rumbles to complement the complex characters found in his stories.
In addition to his solo career, audiences may also know Mulcahy as the front man of seminal ‘80s rock band Miracle Legion or as “Muggy Polaris,” ringleader of Polaris, the fictional house band of the beloved ‘90s Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Both Miracle Legion and Polaris have reunited in recent years to tour and will likely do it again.
Mark Mulcahy band will be touring the UK this September including a perfomace at End of the Road Festival.