Ketchup or Mustard?

Mac DeMarco releases new road-trip-inspired project

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

Rating: 3.5 stars

Mac DeMarco released his last album, “Here Comes The Cowboy,” nearly four years ago in 2019. After a long wait between projects and an indefinite pause on his North American tour in late 2022 to work on new music, he finally released his new instrumental album, “Five Easy Hotdogs,” on Jan. 20, 2023. 

DeMarco wrote “Five Easy Hotdogs” while on a cross-continent road trip, leaving his home in California, heading east to New York, and then looping back toward the Pacific Northwest — vowing he would not return home until he had an album. Each song is named after the city he was in while writing it; this is visible in the tracklist, starting with “Gualala,” California and ending in “Rockaway,” Oregon. 

The album’s namesake, “Five Easy Hotdogs,” was seemingly inspired by the 1970 Bob Rafelson film, “Five Easy Pieces,” starring Jack Nicholson. In the film, Nicholson’s character hitchhikes across North America, hoping to start a new chapter in his life, which perfectly describes the process DeMarco took to develop this album.

“Five Easy Hotdogs” brings forth a unique blend of styles throughout its runtime, whether that be the twangy acoustics from “Gualala,” the funky-rhythmic synth from “Edmonton” or the smooth arpeggios — a broken chord performed in a rising or descending order — present in “Vancouver 3.” Each track floats with one another with no true highs or lows in sound, with each track being unique enough while also having a distinct ambiance shared between them. 

While many of DeMarco’s previous projects are full of hard-hitting emotion, “Five Easy Hotdogs” does not share that energy. “Five Easy Hotdogs” is a funky indie LP at its finest, and while it is a shame that there are no vocals, that is the charm of it. It is an album full of laidback tunes to relax, study or drive to. While it is not on the same peg as some of DeMarco’s previous works, such as 2014’s “Salad Days,” it is nothing to discount. “Five Easy Hotdogs” is easily one of my favorite instrumental projects to release in the past few years. 

“Five Easy Hotdogs” was released on Jan. 20, 2023, and is now available on Spotify and Apple Music.