Michael McDermott and David Newbould Play New Music on WMOT Friday at Noon
Chicago-based singer-songwriter Michael McDermot has been around the block a time or two. Back in 1991, he was signed to a major label on his way to take his place alongside acts like Tom Petty, John Fogerty, Don Henley, and the like. Instead, after a strong debut, the label lost interest by the end of the decade as they attempted to gobble up the latest music fads. But luckily, Mcdermott's music is a classic form of songwriting that will never go out of style. Without hesitation, he continued to pursue his music career, ending up with over a dozen records and acclaim from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post.
He released his new album, St. Paul's Boulevard, back in May. While it has been marketed as a sort of concept album, what it really is is an album full of radio-friendly anthemic bangers for the lonely and the forgotten. In his 30-year career, he's continued to follow his own path, picking up fans the hard way, one by one. And apparently, horror master Stephen King called him "possibly the greatest undiscovered rock and roll talent of the last 20 years." That's quite a compliment.
While he has often been compared to Dylan and Springsteen, so much so that they each get a nod on the album, there's also a parallel to John Cougar Mellencamp in his social commentary era.
If you are a fan of heartland rock, stories of the struggles of everyday folks, heartbreak, and redemption, then Michael McDermott delivers.
Another artist that has built a career around singing the stories of the people is David Newbould. You might have already been introduced to him on The Local Brew, where Ana Lee has been playing his music, or when she premiered the video for "Home Depot Glasses," his tribute to John Prine written soon after the death of the beloved musician. The Toronto-born singer-songwriter is now a full-fledged Nashvillian and has embraced the town and the musical camaraderie it allows.
For his new album, Power Up! (out June 10th), he partnered with jack of all musical trades Scott Sax after a playdate between their children. The two worked on the album at the height of the pandemic in Sax's basement studio. They worked in 3-hour time blocks on opposite sides of a makeshift glass wall so that they could each protect themselves and their families. The result is what Newbould calls a "basement rock record," where the vibe is much more important than every song being meticulously recorded. In their attempt to make the recording process fun as they grappled with pandemic existentialism, they pushed boundaries by experimenting with sounds and recording techniques, even using an iPhone to record one of the drum tracks.
The resulting album is a nod to their love of albums of the '70s and a shared mantra of, "Why not?" It's an eclectic blend of songs that jump between scuzzy rock and spoken word sermons by an ever-evolving artist who is unafraid to color outside the lines.
You can catch McDermott and Newbould this week on Finally Friday, where they will play live versions of new songs from their latest releases. Be sure to tune in at 12:00 PM CST on WMOT 89.5, WMOT.org, or via the new WMOT app.