Chicago-based singer-songwriter Michael McDermot has been around the neighborhood once or twice. In 1991, he was signed to a major label en route to taking his place alongside the likes of Tom Petty, John Fogerty, Don Henley, and more. Instead, after a strong start, the label lost interest by the end of the decade as it tried to swallow the latest musical trends. But thankfully, Mcdermott’s music is a classic form of songwriting that will never go out of style. Without hesitation, he continued his musical 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, last May. Although it was marketed as a sort of concept album, it’s actually an album full of radio-friendly anthemic bangers for the lonely and forgotten. During his 30-year career, he continued to go his own way, catching fans the hard way, one by one. And apparently horror master Stephen King called him “probably the greatest undiscovered rock and roll talent of the last 20 years.” That’s quite a compliment.
Although he’s 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 days of social commentary.
If you’re a fan of rock from the heart, stories of everyday people’s struggles, heartbreak and redemption, then Michael McDermott delivers.
David Newbould is another artist who has built his career around singing the stories of the people. You may have already been introduced to her on The Local Brew, where Ana Lee played her music, or when she created the video for “Home Depot Glasses,” her tribute to John Prine written shortly after the well-known musician’s death. -like. The Toronto-born singer-songwriter is now a full Nashvillian and has embraced the city and the musical camaraderie it affords.
For his new album, Power Up! (released June 10), he teamed up with musical jack-of-all-trades Scott Sax after their children met. The two worked on the album during the height of the pandemic in Sax’s basement studio. They worked in 3 hour increments on opposite sides of a makeshift glass wall so they could each protect themselves and their families. The result is what Newbould calls a “basement rock recording”, where the mood is far more important than each meticulously recorded song. In their attempt to make the recording process fun as they grappled with pandemic existentialism, they pushed the envelope by experimenting with sounds and recording techniques, even using an iPhone to record one of drum tracks.
The resulting album is a nod to their love of ’70s albums and a shared mantra of “Why not?” It’s an eclectic mix of songs that waver between scuzzy rock and spoken word sermons by an ever-evolving artist who isn’t afraid to think outside the box.
You can catch McDermott and Newbould this week on Finally Friday, where they’ll be performing 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 through the new WMOT app.