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The Macks closed out the night of music at the Whiteside Theater. Fromly a Eugene band, The Macks relocated to Portland, Oregon last summer during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six bands from the Eugene and Corvallis area joined together at the Whiteside Theater in downtown Corvallis for Summer’s End Festival. (Ian Enger/Emerald)

I was rolling up the 5, headed north from Eugene to Portland to catch The Macks at their rehearsal last Tuesday night. With their new album “Rabbit” blaring through my speakers, my foot fell heavier on the gas with every passing track. As “Morning Ritual” played on, I passed a cop, just seconds before the Wilsonville exit, and realized I’d passed the speed limit too.

“Shit,” I muttered as I looked through my rearview mirror, sure I’d spot him with flashing lights behind me.

By the grace of God, Jesus and everyone in between, the deputy was nowhere on my trail. Guess I’d call that the luck of the rabbit.

“‘Rabbit’ is a long time superstition that we follow in my family,” the Macks’ frontman Sam Fulwiler said after I told him the story of my close catch. The old wives’ tale goes that if the first word out of your mouth on the first day of each month is rabbit, you’ll have good luck, and I guess I’d consumed enough of this new album for a little bit of that luck to rub off on me.

As I pulled up to a cute little house on the Northside of Portland, I could hear the same impassable sound that was coming from my car oozing from out of this residence.

I must be in the right place.

“Our neighbors hate us,” guitarist Ben Windheim. He cracks a smile and turns up his amp as the other guys laugh.

“Rabbit” is the third LP of the Portland based Macks since their formation in 2015, and it makes for their most dynamic and true to personality record yet. With the addition of Jake Perris on keys, a first time collaboration with a production staff from outside of the band and a whole new maturity to their sound, this album really lives up to the expression “the third times’ the charm.”

The 10 tracks open up with the album’s lead single, starting things off snappy and familiar. “The Undo Man” leads us into an album that feels like the band at its most intentional. As the album opener wails out with a classically Windheim guitar solo, it's no secret that “Rabbit” packs heat from the start. Up next, “Do Snakes Have Brains?” has the same sound as “The Minimalist/Angel Bait” off their second album “Yup,” but this time in a more finalized incarnation. This track is heavy and catchy, but most importantly it's plain sexy. Like sorry, that whisper part around the 2 minute mark? It's all too much.

With “Breakfast (In Bed),” we get the flipside of quite literally everything we’ve ever thought about The Macks before. A stupid little domestic song about eating some stupid little domestic eggs has never gone harder. It’s my favorite song on the record.

The tracks move forward with ease, all following the previous so strongly that they each could’ve made the case to be their own single. “Move On” gives us Stooges in the bass, “Goodbye Frustration” gives us Doors in the keys, but all in all, the album gives us Macks, and that's what it's supposed to do.

The whole win with “Rabbit” in my book is that it sounds as if the band has fully realized how to use its power at its most tactile.

“Our presentation is a lot more creative now and a lot more challenging too,” Ben Windheim said. “It's also the first time we’ve written a record together while all living together, the first time we’ve had this type of cohesive songwriting.”

These tracks were all written in late 2020, right here in Eugene when the band lived in a pad over by Hendrix Park. Romantic as ever, those very digs even appear on the vinyl’s lyric sheet.

The band had opted for at-home production on their albums thus far, but for this new one, they sought out the help of The Yawpers’ frontman Nate Cook and slide guitarist Jesse Parmet. The Macks opened for the Colorado based Blues Rock band when they played in Portland and later cut a deal to record “Rabbit” at Cook and Parmet’s studio in Denver, The Dirt Bar.

For Jake Perris on the keys, these nine days up in Denver at the Rabbit sessions were pretty pivotal. For the first week of recording, he didn’t play a thing, and as he puts it, “on the eighth day God created keyboards.” Perris recorded all the key parts on the second to last day at The Dirt Bar. It was quite the undertaking considering it was his first time ever recording keys on a record and also the first record he’d ever cut with The Macks. I’d say he did just fine.

Bassist Aidan Harrison is the only Mack that didn’t play on the new album — the bass credits for “Rabbit” go to Rhiannon Van Roe — but since this past summer, he has been adding a new element to the way the band translates live.

“The bass parts on the recordings are awesome, and I want to keep that integrity in the songs,” Harrison said. “But I think this is true for all of us, I can really only play the bass like me, so in that regard I’ll add my own flavor to it.”

As far as “Rabbit” is concerned, I’d talk you up and down about my favorite parts of hearing this thing front to back, but since the record came out March 11, why don’t you just spin it for yourself?

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