With Slam Dunk Festival 2017 now mere days away, we’re continuing our build up with a playlist celebrating storied back catalogue of main stage opener Andrew McMahon. From helping to forge a unique piano-driven take on pop-rock and pop-punk with Something Corporate to his mainstream-conquering solo smash hit ’Cecilia and The Satellite,’ McMahon has been wowing us with his clever, thoughtful and often downright gut-wrenching anthem crafting for almost two decades. We take a look back at the picks of his solo creations and his releases with SoCo and Jack’s Mannequin.
Something Corporate – Punk Rock Princess
’Punk Rock Princess’ was the song largely responsible for bringing McMahon’s song writing chops to a global audience, and it’s still a favourite of club nights to this day. Although the version of the track we all know and love is a glorious four-chord blast, McMahon told AH in an interview that it actually began life as a tender piano ballad.
Jack’s Mannequin – The Mixed Tape
During a break from Something Corporate, and shortly before being diagnosed with Leukaemia, McMahon started writing and recording music for the project that would become Jack’s Mannequin. These tracks ratcheted up the personal and intimate nature of the song writing blueprint he had developed with SC, and first JM single ‘The Mixtape’ provided the perfect mission statement for the outfit. Driving keys follow a hooky intro riff, and back a stirring account of using a painstakingly complied mixtape to say the things you can’t and reach out to a loved one.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Synaesthesia
Never an artist that was afraid to hit the reset button on his musical output, McMahon found the lifespan and significance of the Jack’s Mannequin name changing in 2013 and felt it was time to start releasing music under his own name. The resulting EP, ‘The Pop Underground’, was led by ‘Synaesthesia’ a swirling blend of synths and keys that boasted lyrics brimming with evocative imagery, and a plethora of brief yet moving anecdotes from McMahon’s life at the time.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Cecilia and the Satellite
Although McMahon continues to write and release solo material in his own name, he added the ‘in the Wilderness’ moniker in time for the release of his solo record proper in in 2014. This coincided with McMahon preparing to become a father for the first time, and inspired ‘Cecilia and The Satellite’. This sweeping, tender number saw McMahon taking frank stock of his life and confessing his hopes and fears about impending fatherhood to the world. The song would become his most successful and wide reaching work to date.
Something Corporate – Me and The Moon
Easily the darkest song in McMahon’s Stellar back catalogue, ‘Me and The Moon’ saw McMahon testing his lyrical narrative by putting himself in the shoes of a domestic abuse victim who takes drastic action to free herself. The track tells her story with lyrics that are as heart-breaking as they are compelling.
Jack’s Mannequin – Dark Blue
Deceptively cheerful keys and guitars soundtrack a song that tackles subject matters of loneliness and depression in a manner that still manages to produce a swelling uplifting chorus. ‘Dark Blue’ provided arguably the standout moment of the first Jack’s Mannequin LP ‘Everything In Transit’.
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Brooklyn You’re Killing Me
McMahon recently dropped his second Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness record ‘Zombies on Broadway’, and first single ‘Brooklyn You’re Killing Me’ saw him continuing to push the boundaries of his sound, complete with rapid fire spoken word sections and infectious up-tempo electronic drum fills.
Something Corporate – I Woke Up in a Car
With ‘I Woke Up in a Car’ McMahon took listeners to Something Corporate’s major label debut inside his life on tour. The song packs in a charming array of intimate accounts of the people, places and experiences of life on the road, and an endearing sense of the adventure and geographically bewildering nature of being on tour for the first time.
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – So Close
Recent single ‘So Close’ showed that this deep into his career McMahon is still expanding his sound, adding grooving bass and synths to a disco tinged chorus hook that meshes wonderfully with his usual piano ballad approach. Listen a little closer and take note to McMahon making some deep and thought provoking reflections on modern thinking in amongst some seriously vivid imagery.
Something Corporate – Konstantine
Anyone for a piano ballad epic? Because that’s exactly we got in the form of ‘Konstantine’’ from Something Corporate’s 2003 ‘Songs For Silent Movies’ EP. This is a stirring, forlorn love song, that tugs at the heart strings for every second of its lofty 7-and-a-half-minute run time. The song, unsurprisingly, is still his longest effort and one that fans most frequently request to hear live.
We’ve also included some of our other favourite tracks from Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin and McMahon’s solo releases to get you in the mood for his set beginning each day of Slam Dunk 2017.
Something Corporate – 21 and Invincible
Something Corporate – Globes and Maps
Something Corporate – Watch the Sky
Jack’s Mannequin – Swim
Jack’s Mannequin – La La Lie
Jack’s Mannequin – Holiday from Real
Jack’s Mannequin – Caves
Jack’s Mannequin – Hammers And Strings (A Lullaby)
Jack’s Mannequin – I’m ready
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Maps for the Getaway
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Fire Escape
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness will be playing at 1:30pm on the Jägermeister Stage at Slam Dunk Festival on all three dates.
Slam Dunk Festival 2017 takes place on the following dates:
Sat 27 The NEC, Birmingham
Sun 28 City Centre, Leeds (SOLD OUT)
Mon 29 Forum, Hatfield (SOLD OUT)
Tickets can be purchased here.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)