Per my detective work, I believe I’ve uncovered Luke Scott MacMaster (not owning of a Wikipedia page) to be a California boy, as (a.) the one show I saw him billed for was in San Fran; (b.) one of his songs surfaced on the Counting Crows album Underwater Sunshine somehow; and (c.) most commendably, Water opener “Smooth Sailin’” really reminded me of the opener on The Dodos’ album Visiter. It’s got not only a similar instrument used and production sound, but even an akin rhythm and pattern to the whole thing, though somehow the project didn’t come off as a ripoff, graced aptly by droll little piano notes somewhat like Califone’s “Stepdaughter.” Troublingly, though, “Smooth Sailin’” makes a claim that’s optimistic, divorced from The Dodos’ typical pragmatism (“It’s gonna be smooth sailin’ from here on out”), thereby positioning himself for next in line for inclusion on some cheesy romantic comedy starring Natalie Portman.
Still, “Smooth Sailin’” isn’t a total flop, to say nothing of “Black Hair,” which sounds like Chris Martin blandly covering a David Gray song.
“Untitled (Love Song),” then, necessarily opens with a little more gusto, a harmonica wash beaming in at the start, which sets the table with a certain stylistic undulation, so that the rest of the song can lie placidly. Unfortunately, this is unnecessary, un-ironic “love song” goop, with no darkness or edginess to the lyrics (“Throw your arms around my neck / I won’t be soon to forget”), a rhyme that’s as easy as the obligatory jab that the LISTENER will forget this stuff as soon as it’s over.
Elsewhere, compared to the last singer/songwriter I covered Haley Heynderickx, MacMaster seems to have absolutely no sense of the darkness and tragedy that infiltrate the lives we all live, also productive of almost no stylistic flair, such as the percussive climaxes we reach on Heynderickx’ more epic moments. To hear it from MacMaster, life would be all like one big cute little visit to a cafe, which in fact is a sort of West Coast stereotype in the first place. Heynderickx’ hails from Portland and MacMaster apparently from the Bay Area. This is ironic to me, since from one account I heard, San Francisco today is filled literally with junkies shooting up on the street, and even the fetid aroma of human waste from the onslaught of bums crowding the streets. In a way, it takes a community as callous and vapid as MacMaster’s music to oversee such a sociological disaster, when you think about it.