Premiere: Micah McCaw Injects Urgent Energies into Dynamic Sophomore Album ‘Imbalances’

Imbalances - Micah McCaw
An urgent energy cuts through Micah McCaw’s electrifying sophomore album ‘Imbalances’ as the Oregon singer/songwriter strives for balance between the everyday and his own inner turbulence.
:: stream/purchase Imbalances here ::
Stream: ‘Imbalances’ – Micah McCaw




He’s torn at his seams and wrestled with faith, and now Micah McCaw is going electric: The Medford, Oregon-based songwriter tackles that constant inner and outer struggle for balance, contentment, and peace of mind in his new album Imbalances, a dynamic and ambitious 14-track effort and McCaw’s first offering with a full band and electric guitar.

Imbalances - Micah McCaw

Imbalances – Micah McCaw

I’m working overtime
To please everyone
And I’m slowly losing my mind
To please everyone
Calendars to corners
Corners turn into bars
Bars turn into cells
And cells turn into sentences
I’m working overtime
To please everyone one
And I’m slowly losing my mind
To please everyone
– “Overtime,” Micah McCaw

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Micah McCaw’s electrifying sophomore album Imbalances, a raw and turbulent record that finds the Oregon singer/songwriter with a full band for the first time. A familiar face for quite some time, McCaw has always had a deft sense of melody and timbre: In premiering his song “Tearing Seams” in 2017Atwood observed how he “infuses deep piano chords, trembling violins, sweet vocal harmonies and more into a warm, acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock song. Sweeping brush strokes drive momentum forward as colorful lyrics catch an individual’s confrontation of his own values.” The following year, Atwood described McCaw’s EP Threads as “a meaningful tonic for the soul as Micah McCaw bares his innermost self through music, building songs up and breaking them down through highly emotive rock-tinged folk.”

Micah McCaw

Micah McCaw



Imbalances is about my struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, specifically in regards to work,” McCaw says of his second full-length offering. “I am constantly going to work, getting home and working on music, and trying to find time to spend with my wife or relax. This, of course is the eternal curse of being a type-3 on the Enneagram, the Acheiver. I need goals and I need to know that I accomplished something; I cannot rest. So most of these songs can be seen through that lens, and I would hope many people could relate even if they aren’t a type 3.”

I thought that we had moved past this
Thoughts above this plateau
Smoke is filling the valley
But no one looks white as snow
Are you speaking with conviction?
Or are you using up the air?
Are you patching up the jackets?
Or are you making a tear?
A gentle breeze foreshadows
The men breaking their sticks
I thought this was the future
But that a nervous tick
Finality in beginnings
Surety in all this doubt
A land of suffering people
But hope can spring with a sprout
I think I’m growing a conscience
I think I’m dabbling with innocence
– “Nervous Tick,” Micah McCaw




An urgent energy cuts through Imbalances as McCaw strives for balance between the everyday and his own inner turbulence.

Stress and anxiety; the need to find fulfillment; a constant striving for more. A seasoned singer/songwriter in his own right, McCaw has always excelled at being true to himself in song, but he goes above and beyond throughout this propulsive, beat-driven, lyrically vibrant album. Imbalances is without a doubt a reinvention: Never before have we seen what the artist can do when paired with an electric guitar, bass, and drums. The answer is as exciting as it is striking: McCaw cultivates fervent energies through overdriven amps, pulsing rhythms, and vibrant harmonies, leveraging a heavy release in “Collapse” and a rising tide of sound in “Who Wants to Rule the World?” to evoke intense emotions out of himself, and in the listener.

“I really wanted to dig into my guitar for this album and I just love this style of music,” McCaw tells Atwood Magazine. “I also wanted to write some songs that would frankly just be extremely fun to play live. We originally recorded 20 songs. One was cut and the other five we plan to release as an EP at some point.”

Perhaps no song better displays the extend to which McCaw has pushed himself creatively than Imbalances‘ syncopated lead single “The Dance,” whose name speaks as much to the lyrics’ emotional strife as it does to the interplay of the instruments themselves.

I just got back, oh I just got back
And the memories seem sweeter
Happens when you’re in the past
The sympathetic screams
The apathetic dreams
These memories seem dour
Sweet or sour
The dance… the plans
The dance… the plans
I can’t learn of balance
No I can’t learn of balance
So I think with malice
And sometimes talents



Micah McCaw recorded Imbalances with drummer Andrew John Lee Tevis and bassist Chris Heisner; Jeremy Oliveria provided additional instrumentation and mixing, and Adam Chamberlain provided mastering. Originally scheduled to release in 2019, Imbalances was postponed due to the passing of Anthony Panter, a close friend of McCaw who contributed group vocals throughout the album and had been scheduled to perform at the release show. This review is dedicated in his memory.

Imbalances may not expect to find peace or tranquility within its musical folds, but the further one listens to McCaw and co., the clearer their focus on well-being becomes. Yes, this record injects a certain urgency into every fiber of its being, but there’s a calming sense of accomplishment built into that urgency – it’s as if that inner push to go, go, go eases us because simply because we’re going, going, going. No, it can’t be good for our mental health, but it sure beats sitting still.

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Micah McCaw’s Imbalances with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his latest album! Imbalances is out everywhere this Friday, March 13, 2020.

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:: stream/purchase Imbalances here ::
Stream: ‘Imbalances’ – Micah McCaw



:: Inside Imbalances ::

Imbalances - Micah McCaw

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Overtime

Speaks to the overworking that many artists get caught up in. I have a tendency to work on several music projects at once, often times very ahead of the release date. The great thing about that is that I always have something to do and I usually get it done ahead of time. The downside is once I’m done I don’t stop and take a breath and appreciate the accomplishment. Even this very moment I’m writing this the day I released Meadowlark and I’m sitting here making sure all the stuff for the album release is in order. “Calendars to corners, corners turn into bars, bars turn into cells, cells turn into sentences.” Sometimes I’m trapped.

Manifest Destiny

This is the oldest song on the album and I wasn’t positive that we would be able to pull off the energy this song possesses when played live, but with the arrangement of the ending thoroughly helped by Chris Hesiner (Bass), Tevis (Drums), and Jeremy Oliveria (Producer/Mixer), I think we were able to pull it off.  Lyrically the song is dealing with America’s obsession with Manifest Destiny and how deep seeded it is into the country’s spine.


Nervous Tick

Another political song that also challenges the idea that we as a society have become that much more enlightened then previous societies. “I thought that we had moved past this, thoughts above this plateau. I thought we were supposed to be better?” As far as the recording goes we were messing with the instrumental section starting at 1:33 and trying to add something that would really take the next section to another level and so I grabbed my Line 6 DL4 delay pedal and started screwing around. Somehow the crazy sound effect was the exact tempo we needed, so Jeremy just doubled it and pulled one track back giving it an echo effect. We could sit in that room for a thousand years and never get it to line up that perfectly again.

Collapse

Collapse was a really fun song written to give “The Dance” more of an impact and set the stage for that song. It came together fairly easily and I always enjoy when albums have an instrumental song leading straight into another song.

The Dance

This song deals with the past, present, and future. We have a tendency to look back and think, “The good ole’ days” or “Everything was terrible,” we can’t look at it without bias. So this song really just explores the concept of taking a hard side or opinion on everything, which I do quite frequently. It ends on a refrain that we never know if the future is there, so it also implores us to live in the present.

After the Dance

A song to lead us out of The Dance. I thought the title was kind of funny and enjoyed playing as many songs as I could in 7! Originally I wanted to title Collapse, Before the Dance. This song has some fuzzy guitar at the end which is always exciting for me to fool around with.
Micah McCaw

Micah McCaw



Meadowlark

This is my favorite song of the album. It came into being when I was messing around with a sample I had made from my guitar that turned into the sample that is played throughout the recording, and Heisner (bass) was just sitting in the same room writing all these super expressive bass lines. This song really challenged me because I wrote the guitar part, arranged the bass, routed the song, and then wrote the vocal melody and lyrics. I also wrote the lyrics and melody to a demo rather than just playing around with it on my guitar. I was ecstatic that we were able to sneak the Septavox synth into the song at the end. It was also just so incredibly liberating to go nuts in the outro of the song. Lyrically the song is about my wife and I and how we are both artists (she writes novels), and how it can be hard to prioritize her over my music but it’s absolutely essential if I want to be a good husband and love her the way she deserves.

Dogs

Dogs speaks to the repetitive nature of the current state of human living. We seem to be running in circles just as a dog chases it’s tail. We become numb, getting used to thoughts, ideas, and actions that are contrary to what we believe and we just let it slide. I know that I’m often times more concerned with my own injustice (as I see it) than the injustice of others. It can be hard to sing with joy, but often times that’s the only weapon in our arsenal, and maybe it’s the best one.

Tails

This song is a continuation of Dogs and can be viewed a couple of different ways. One way I view it is a fatalistic dependency on defeat. The other way is a positive view of failure, knowing that it happens and will continue to happen, but we don’t have to roll over.

Factory Sealed

Jeremy threw some really tasty piano licks throughout this song that I really hope don’t get overlooked! I’ve always wanted to do a White Stripes-esque song and this is what I came up with. The song is about how we know what’s wrong with companies, we know our meat is bad, we know the internet isn’t always good, and yet we choose to keep on buying. “We buy, buy, buy, all the while knowing the garbage tastes just fine, close your eyes and imagine it’s wine.”

Who Wants to Rule the World?

I grew up listening to Relient K and this seems like a pretty tongue in cheek thing they would have done, so in some ways it was an unknowing tribute to them!

Everybody Wants to Rule the World 

.One of my all time favorite songs, the original is a complete-100%-certified banger. Indisputable. We started playing this song live 2 years ago and I couldn’t get enough of it, I thought, what the heck? I should just put this on the album, because my version is different enough that it still is its own thing. I hate when covers just sound the same as the original. What is the point?

Talk Louder

This song is very personal to me as it is my constant struggle with my faith and art. I’ve believed all my life to follow my dreams. I’ve also believed I need to follow God, but sometimes I wonder if I’m pursuing this dream of music and leaving God on the sidelines. I want Him to talk louder then my voice and overactive brain. I believe he put those dreams in me, but I don’t ever want to lose sight of my faith.

ROYGBV

This song is in 9/8 which is a key signature I’ve had on my songwriters bucket list for awhile. It’s heavily inspired by MEWITHOUTYOU and I found it extremely challenging to write. It’s my strange version of a worship song, and I’ll leave it at that. The rest is up to interpretation.

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:: stream/purchase Imbalances here ::
Stream: ‘Imbalances’ – Micah McCaw



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Imbalances - Micah McCaw

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com