Maccogallo, Song of the Day: “Contrition Hymnal”

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Local Indy punk rock band Maccogallo brings their unique blend of punk and pop aesthetics to one of the standout singles from their new album.

This week, we’ve been taking a look back at some of the best local bands in Indy of the past decade. But we can’t focus on the past all the time. New Year’s is also a time to look to the future, and what the next decade will bring. That’s why today we’re taking a look at one of the younger bands in the Indianapolis scene, Maccogallo.

So before we get into our song of the day, “Contrition Hymnal”, let’s first take a closer look at Maccogallo, for anyone who isn’t already familiar with them.

Maccogallo

Maccogallo is still a relatively young band to the Indy scene, but in the past year they’ve been around, they’ve managed to put out an impressive amount of music. After releasing their first demo in 2018, Maccogallo has put out a wealth of material, all leading up to their debut album, “Hounds”, which came out last November.

This seven piece band brings a unique blend of pop-infused punk (or is it punk-infused pop?) that sets them apart from your run of the mill punk band. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but Maccogallo seems to always remind me of the Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers. Not so much their newer, synth-heavy albums, but their older work, for sure. While Maccogallo still leans decidedly more toward punk, the two groups do share some similarities. They’re both large ensembles with pop aesthetics, and pass the mic between multiple lead singers.

The credit for Maccogallo’s unique approach goes to the whole band of course, but especially to lead vocalists Sean Smith and Lilly Ullrich. In their songs, Smith is the punk guy more likely to scream or screech on the edgier tracks. In contrast, Ullrich brings a softness and attention to indie pop aesthetics that smooths out the rough punk edges. Or does it give the soft pop an edge? In any case, the real brilliance of Maccogallo is their ability to combine these two genres that seem as though they’re at odds, and deliver songs that honor them both, and bring them together.

Contrition Hymnal

In “Contrition Hymnal” you can hear both sides of Maccogallo’s sound. It’s one of the few songs on their debut album “Hounds” that features both lead singers equally. The track starts off with a driving, fuzz-filled, punk energy and Smith’s raw vocals. After his verse, Smith passes the vocals to Ullrich, and the fuzz is replaced with a very Pixies-esque wailing guitar. It’s a simple formula. Smith brings the energy and edge, while Ullrich brings out the melody and, quite frankly, the more interesting lyrics.

The lyrics during Smith’s section are all directed at an unnamed “you”, and delivered with clear disdain. His angle, in this song at least, is directing his anger out at the world. Here’s an example: “you do it for your country / you do it for your god / you do it for the slaughter of the novels taking place in your backyard”. At the end of his first verse, Smith leaves us with this charming couplet: “you do it for Y.O.U.R.S.E.L.F. / now don’t you feel just like an insect?”

Ullrich’s vocals contrast with Smith’s style in more than a few ways. For one, she communicates more with personal statements and expressions. For instance: “I’m running past my repentance / Your hands are so relentless / I’m painting my contrition / With all my fingers bleeding”. Additionally, Ullrich’s sections are much longer, and filled with rhyming couplet after couplet. Paired with her attention to melody, this makes Ullrich’s verses ring out as the true lead, and Smith’s as supporting vocals for effect.

Final Thoughts

Overall, “Contrition Hymnal” is probably the one song by Maccogallo that you can listen to that will tell you everything you need to know about the band. It is in itself a microcosm of Maccogallo, and probably one of their better tracks to date. If you can’t find something to like in it, then Maccogallo might not be for you. But I highly doubt that.

While Maccogallo states on their Bandcamp that they are “a band that will someday not be a band”, we can only hope that that day is far off. There’s still more to hear from them, and I for one am looking forward to their next release.

If you enjoyed listening to Maccogallo’s song, “Split Shake / When You Go”, you can listen to more of their debut album, “Hounds” by visiting their Bandcamp page.

Finally, for more coverage on the local Indy music scene, be sure to check out the LemonWire Music Corner, where we’re showcasing local artists from the Indianapolis community.

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