Jason McCue Pulls Himself Apart on Latest Album, PANGAEA (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
Photo by Haley Ford

Creating music and releasing music can feel like the weight of the world is crushing on you. The strive for perfection, trying to articulate your own complex emotions into notes, hoping it translates but also trying to maintain a vision that’s solely for yourself. In that sense, it makes sense that Seattle songwriter Jason McCue would name his latest LP PANGAEA, out tomorrow via Fluff and Gravy Records.

The metaphor for the continent shifting and breaking apart extends beyond just the process of making music and into the real life feelings McCue is grappling with on the record. Love, loss, and existential visions collide in a swirl of acoustic guitars and rapturously contorted vocals. The 2017 Sound Off! Winner expertly proves why he’s earned that title throughout each frenzied track.

You could try and draw comparisons to acts like Sparklehorse or Devendra Banhart to describe the sonic spectrum McCue resides in, but it’d miss the point. Like the continent of Pangaea, musical territory is without boundary or borders throughout the record. One moment he’s embracing freak-folk experimentation on “Another Time” then power-pop thrills on “When He Drinks” and later even eccentric beat poetry reminiscent of old Jack Kerouac recordings with “There Are Dogs in the Street.” And that’s all without mentioning the album’s more tender moments, like the stunning “Toxicity” which finds McCue alone with his guitar, reciting dreams of floating down brown, dying rivers and the pains of complacency.

McCue shares with KEXP a broad view of PANGAEA’s conception:

PANGAEA is a story I’ve been meaning to tell for a while now. It’s all about how things can break apart, even when you expect them not to. I’m nervous to show people because it’s the most personal I’ve ever gotten with my music. A lot of the lyrics are based off real feelings of nostalgia and my own questioning of self-certainty, but I feel like that makes for better content, since it’s real. Overall, I’m just happy I can finally put it out into the ether and see how people feel about it.”

For an album that’s about breaking apart and self-doubt, McCue manages to hold together a broad swath of musical ideas and making it look effortless in the process. In just over half an hour, he pushes himself in compelling new directions.

Stream the album in its entirety below ahead of the release. Pre-order the album now.

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