Mac McCaughan, Brokeback | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Mac McCaughan, Brokeback Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Thu., July 23, 9 p.m. 2015

On his wonderful new solo album Non-Believers (Merge), the first record under his own name following a bunch released as Portastatic, Superchunk front man Mac McCaughan revisits his youth with the hindsight of a 48-year old. Citing groups like New Order and the Cure as the soundtrack to his own past disaffection, the singer deliberately embraces the early-80s period when postpunk musicians used synthesizers to make sounds that express postadolescent ennui. It’s a little strange to hear a musician known for converting loud, raw guitars into hooky catharsis employing primitive drum machines and synthesizers—and the first few songs are mopey pop dirges more than anything else. But as the album progresses, McCaughan can’t help but let the guitars rise to the top, along with his own full-bodied melodic sensibility. His lyrics imagine a pair of teen goths facing the sort of trials he lived through, but rather than conveying feelings of hopelessness and angst, he envisions them having a collective inner strength and sense of commitment that lets them transcend their suburban nightmares. One thing McCaughan still refuses to shed is his belief in the redemptive power of music: on “Box Batteries” his characters find salvation in blaring tapes on a boom box, while “Only Do” is a familiar anthem of positive thinking and self-belief, with a soaring chorus that insists, “There is no try / There is only do.” —Peter Margasak

Price: $18, $15 in advance

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