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CD REVIEW: Scott Mackin - Connect The Dots
By Ashley Petkovski - 10/07/2002 - 12:38 AM EDT

Artist: Scott Mackin
Album: Connect The Dots
CD Review: What begins as a record reflecting a guy in his basement with a 4-track recorder eventually reveals itself as a labour of love - on the listener's part. It takes patience to sit through the entire record the first couple of times through. Eventually, however, the actual beauty of Scott Mackin's apparent tough-guy sonic swagger is exposed, leaving in your CD player, a fine little rock & roll record.

Initially, Mackin's low key arrangements and Lou Reed/Iggy Pop styled vocals (think "Heroin" and "The Passenger") are difficult to listen to. The almost infernal echoes and hums that accompany most of the music and vocals on the record distract one from the songs themselves. The more upbeat material - especially "Dollar Ten Limo" - provides some shock-treatment jolts in volume, thanks to production that can be considered a little too lo-fi. You grow to expect the sudden onslaughts of sound, listen by listen. When still a virgin to "Connect The Dots," however, it isn't exceedingly pleasant, especially when you take into consideration that the preceding tracks require a fair bit of concentration in order to make out musical details. Although the shakes in production can be forgiven, thanks to the "indie" status of the recording, they do overshadow the quality of the music itself.

After a listen or two, "Connect The Dots" gives a little bit of an insight into its creator. Pardon the completely unaesthetic bluntness of this statement, but Mackin is one hell of a musician. Playing every instrument himself, delivering the vocals, and writing the music and lyrics to each song - with only one (lyrical) exception - Mackin carries out his work masterfully. His guitar playing, both electric and acoustic, is skilled and in effortlessly perfect synchronization with his drum work and voice. Mackin seems to be in control of every aspect of the instrumentation, his transitions flawless, his musical textures co-existing perfectly. Amazingly, like so few solo performers, his guitar voicings actually change. It may not seem like a big deal, but look at it this way - how often do you come across a solo performer with an actual knowledge of guitar tones other than soft and loud?

One of the few lyricists that can rhyme “eyes” with “hypnotize” and get away with it, Mackin takes what could potentially be a blatantly catchy record (never good), and saves it with his leather-jacket-tough-guy delivery. He's the possessor of a voice that doesn't drip with sensitivity, and could never be described as anything along the lines of "touching." He has the drawl of the hardass working man: honest, deep, and unornamented by anything overtly technical. He's on key, and he says what he wants to say - it's as simple as that. It’s very effective, as it lets his thoughtful lyrics come through clearly.

To sum it all up in a fancy little sentence or two, “Connect The Dots” takes some getting used to. It’s particularly lo-fi production poses several problems along the way, therefore forcing the listener to, through dedication and a bit of concentration, earn the record. After a few thorough listens, however, Mackin’s rock & roll abilities – and his strong songs – shine through, revealing the core of a solid record.


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