Alexander McMahon began his music career a decade ago, but you wouldn’t know it based on his output. He and his brother, Damon, formed the Brooklyn five-piece Inouk and released a well-received LP, No Danger, in 2004. However, before the pair could even revel in their success, Inouk parted ways. Damon embarked onto a solo career under the name Amen Dunes, and Alexander went off to find drugs.
“After Inouk fell apart, I got heavy into drugs and eventually had a complete mental breakdown,” Xander says in a press release. “I was still coming back from the breakdown when I recorded my solo debut. I was relying heavily on my Buddhism practice to keep me sane.” As he pulled himself together to begin working on Wade Laiste, he took on the name Xander Duell and reached out to his brother for the first time in years, bringing him on as producer. “Working with Damon (for the first time since Inouk disbanded) was tense for me, but ultimately a good experience,” says Xander. “Damon has a lot of talent and patience and is able to really stay true to how he thinks things should sound. I tend to just want to move on; he likes to take time and get things right.”
Also featuring production from Miike Snow frontman Andrew Wyatt, Wade Laiste is due out on July 17th via Ingrid. Ahead of the official release, it’s streaming in full below.
Over 12 tracks, Xander hooks in listeners with a sound that’s equally complex and melodic. At times reminiscent of late-70s David Bowie (not the least which may be due to the presence of Bowie drummer Sterling Campbell) and David Lynch-ian pop, the songs are a captivating conglomeration of barque orchestration and unpredictable instrumental shifts. Lyrically, Xander’s words are a ball of non sequiturs and random references. He threatens grave robbers on “Cell Phone Logic”, receives phone calls from Hitler on “Copernicus”, goes on coke binges on “Big Low Big Mother”, and ponders the life of Carl Winslow and Steve Urkle on “Short Pilgrim Age”. “Face forward, Alaska/ Bow to the Post Master General,” he sings on lead single “Earth on Its Axis. “Tell me what I asked ya/ For I have forgotten several times already today.”
It’s all a strange, wonderful trip, and you can take it by pressing play below: