Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Oct 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Perfecting Imperfection

muasic bradmackeson‘Old soul’ singer Brad Mackeson rejects overproduction

These days, you aren’t going to surprise anyone in the world of indie rock by attempting to breathe new life into old folk chord progressions. A quick glance at some of this year’s biggest Grammy winners will tell you that.

But there is a reason that a generation of up-and-coming musicians have been dusting off old Bob Dylan records and finding a use for the harmonicas that were shelved during the ’80s and ’90s. Folk music resonates with people in a way other genres can’t.

At least that’s the way Brad Mackeson sees it. At 23 years old, the singer-songwriter spends his time listening to music recorded decades before he was even a sparkle in his mother’s eye. He is partial to Dylan, Johnny Cash and The Beatles—and he prefers to listen to vinyl if he can.

Some have called Mackeson—who is scheduled to play with Ari Hest at The Crepe Place on Feb. 28—an “old soul.” He certainly gravitates toward an older school when it comes to his art. In an age when Instagram can easily transform any smartphone picture into a Polaroid look-a-like, he prefers the genuine article. He likes listening to full albums, front to back, as opposed to making playlists of his favorite singles, and when recording the album he is currently touring behind, 1945, he avoided any kind of computerized assistance as best he could.

“I’m a fan of getting a real performance,” he explains. There is no pitch-correction or artificial click-track synchronization to be found on any of the record’s 11 tracks, the Nashville transplant says, clearly proud of the fact. He says that a recording’s character can often come from what may have initially been viewed as a mistake—a cracking voice or an overdriven tape. “I think we’re starting to lose that. I think a lot of newer stuff comes off as sterile.”

1945 is anything but sterile. It is a lively album, full of soul. Mackeson’s gritty, passionate voice (which recalls the scratchy croon of Eels mastermind Mark Everett), and his concise, thoughtful lyricism belie his relatively young age.

On 1945—an album dedicated to his World War II veteran grandparents—Mackeson demonstrates that he is not only familiar with the classics, but that he understands them through and through. There are flourishes of early Springsteen working-class rock; the far-off freight train rumble of Neil Young’s distorted and reverb-saturated harmonica lines; and “Positively 4th Street” organ, glowing with warbling, tube-amp warmth.

Mackeson recorded many of the parts on 1945 himself—handling much of the drumming and bass personally. That Mackeson takes such a hands-on approach on 1945 is proof of his obsession with getting things to sound just the way he envisions them.

“Even though I’m not the best drummer or piano player in the world, the songs make you feel something and that’s all you can really ask for,” he says.

Part of that obsession is being completely candid with himself and admitting when his work is not up to snuff. Two years ago, the then 21-year-old decided to pull the plug on promoting his debut album, Nostalgia. He told all the radio stations playing his single to stop and let the record go out of print.

“When I set out to make this album, I committed to making the greatest album I’m capable of,” he says, noting that he wrote about 45 complete songs before whittling the album down to 11. “Not all of them were great songs, it takes a deeper kind of inspiration to write what I would consider a great song.” 


Brad Mackeson will share a bill with Ari Hest at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10/adv, $12/door. For more information, call 429-6994.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher