The Macks


Loaded, agile and extremely sharp Portland based rock band, The Macks, are a knife. The five-piece outfit has just released a brand new record with a title to fit. The Macks are a Knife becomes the band’s fifth LP and brings with it a whole new station. We see the band as more playful and conversational in the new album, but also tighter and more intentional than ever before. Instead of centering the album on what the Macks are supposed to represent as a rule, TMAAK shows you who the Macks are at their core. The Macks are huge — larger than life, too big to fit on a record and certainly too full to fit in a page. Although the posse are best digested live with frontman, Sam Fulwiler, screeching into the microphone, the new release surely reaches up to the mark. 

The Macks are brothers Ben (guitar) and Josef Windheim (drums), Sam Fulwiler (vocals), Jake Perris (keys) and Aidan “Harry” Harrison (bass). Fulwiler and the Windheim brothers have been at this project since 2015 and show no signs of slowing down. The rest of the Mack pack — Perris and Harrison — joined the outfit during the Rabbit era (their 3rd LP of 2022) and the body was complete. TMAAK has all the gusto of their first LP Camp Poppa, only more fleshed out and awake. The band credits this new sturdiness to self trust. “We’re going to live and die by what we are at this point so there’s no place for second guessing,” says Windheim. “We’re more aligned than ever before.” 

After nearly 10 years making music with the same flavor in mind, the latest release hangs onto all the bite and attack of the outfit’s formation while still finding new strengths, honing in on them and taking care to keep them growing. 

The Macks are a live band with realized recorded power. Guitarist Ben Windheim has taken to producing this fifth LP himself in a the long established Macks fashion (as all LPs are produced by Windheim with the exception of their 3rd LP Rabbit.) This tight knit approach works for the band. They walk a delicate line of in-your-face irreverence and tongue-in-cheek quips. The range of The Macks is especially obvious in the last three releases, but specifically in the record at hand, TMAAK. This album does not buy into the suggestion that rock should only be one thing. 

What hits your face when you first open up a Mack’s record isn’t a recital of garagey commotion, it’s simpler than that. It’s pure energy.  Opening track “I Just Surfaced” thrusts the listener into the Mack-verse already running then spits them out into the mammoth that is the leading single “Nice”. This shot to the face is something residents of their avid Portland listenership have likely found themselves attune to — the band is an island where hyperreal meets real-real. Champions of controlled chaos, each song hangs onto a solid idea, twists it into a pretzel of a jam and always comes back to earth for the closer. 

The tracks on TMAAK aren’t linked by anything besides their virtuosity, every song finishes an idea mentioned somewhere in the back of another Mack’s jam. Nothing repeats here, everything is new, but not totally unfamiliar. The lyrics on the new work are undoubtedly the strongest yet. Whether that’s thanks to Fulwiler’s recent deep dive into hip hop or just an overall maturation, the shift is palpable. 

Harkening back to its senior, on Rabbit “There’s No Baby in That Stroller” recalls the untethering of “Goodbye Frustration” and to contrast,  “They Don’t Pay” has a far East influence like nothing the band has ever attempted before. As the album moves forward, radio-friendly touches of Rabbit can be picked up in a track’s initial moments, but a Dajiban-esque jam always answers the call to carry them away. The album comes to a close with a saloon track about a Craigslist dream car, “Ranchero”. Just when you think the quintuplets are through with surprises, they spout the same natural yet out-of-place pep obvious in Queen’s off-beat but on-the-nose country track “ ‘39.” 

TMMAK feels like an answer to the question Dajiban posed — “Are The Macks for sake of definition now a jam band?”  This reply hangs off the rafters with its eyebrow’s bleached, it’s a two-member drum duel and a face painted rendition of the classic songs that put the band on the map, it’s obvious but unclear.

 A knife is an all purpose tool and so are The Macks” vaguely but poignantly puts Harrison. “Anything can be a knife and we can be anything,” says Ben Windheim. The Macks cannot be tied to a category or stuck into a genre. Smooth with edge and stacks upon stacks of spine, the Macks for lack of a better word are a knife. 

By Malena Saadeh

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