I survived nine hours of Mac DeMarco


Photo via Wikimedia Commons via Weekly Dig

Mac Demarco performs at the Middle East Downstairs in April 2014.

Sean Galentine, Staff Writer

When Mac DeMarco dropped One Wayne G, a record that is almost nine hours long and features 199 songs – most of which are demos and instrumentals – I definitely had mixed feelings.

I am not the biggest DeMarco fan. But Salad Days, This Old Dog, and Here Comes The Cowboy are all good albums with some great tracks on them. Initially, when I heard that this huge album had songs from those eras, I was excited.

Eventually, I realized just how long nine hours really is. 

Listening to every song on this album was definitely an adventure. What DeMarco said about the song titled “20190724” can be applied to the whole album: “Garbage, but fun to make.” This is the story of my experience of spending nine hours listening to the new Mac DeMarco album.

First, some background: Each song title is the date of when that song was made. The material is as old as 2018 and as new as early 2023. The title of this record comes from DeMarco’s affinity for fellow Canadian and famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who wore number 99. So the title references the number of songs: “One 99.”

While there are a few really good instrumentals in this collection, most of the rest clearly had not made it into an earlier record for a reason

— Sean Galentine

I started listening to this album on the day that it was released. Since my least favorite DeMarco album is undoubtedly Five Easy Hotdogs, which is all instrumentals, I was disappointed when the first 14 songs on this record were instrumental only. 

It was then that I began to understand that listening to this record all the way through for nine hours straight would be pretty rough. While there are a few really good instrumentals in this collection, most of the rest clearly had not made it into an earlier record for a reason. And they make up the bulk of this album.

One Wayne G is arranged chronologically, and by the time I finished out the 2018 section, I was ready to listen to something else. And I did, opting to listen to Mac Miller, MF Doom, and Thundercat for a while instead. 

The next morning, I decided to tough it out just so I could say that I’d listened to the whole thing. I played the album throughout the day until I finished it.

Sitting and doing nothing but listening to this album at first seemed like it would be mind-numbing, but the boring instrumentals eventually just turned into background music. Then as I continued, I was pleasantly surprised by some tracks with lyrics and a few higher-quality instrumentals, especially the ambient and serene “20191229.”

Among the tracks with lyrics, one of the best is “20210217 Scarecrow,” a song that is haunting and existential. Another good example is “20191012 Fooled By Love,” which talks about being apprehensive in relationships because of previous negative experiences. 

It became clear that the songs with alternate titles next to their dates would be more complete, and the lyrics provided a nice change. These songs were much more exciting to listen to and were actually solid entries.

Certainly, the extensive length of the record likely will lead many casual DeMarco fans to ignore the album altogether. But they should listen to the songs that have a real title next to the date, including the funny love song “20200816 She Want The Sandwich.” 

When I finished listening to the entire album, mostly I just felt relief. Sure, bits of the record were great, but other parts were slow and boring with little to say. Even if the point of this record was to clear out music that would have never seen the light of day otherwise, a lot of tracks could have remained unreleased.

If he had selected the best parts of One Wayne G, DeMarco could have created a solid record. But releasing the songs in this format essentially buries the good ones.