Review by: Mister Substitute

If you don’t know by now, I’m actually a full-time substitute teacher–I’m sort of the go-to long-term substitute for my district. I am currently substituting while a teacher is on maternity leave. Whenever there is downtime I always play music, and sometimes (like now) I will listen to the music I am planning on reviewing. Currently Jason McCue’s latest album “Screen, Turn On” is playing and I didn’t get through one song before a student approached me to ask who was playing. To me, that is the biggest compliment a musician can receive: when curiosity gets the best of us and we have to know who is playing. And this album is worth discovering.

So I severely dislike comparing bands to other bands, singers to singers, ect. But I am making an exception because the singer I am thinking about is actually no longer alive. The second I heard the first track on “Screen, Turn On” I immediately thought “Oh! Elliot Smith!” But that comparison was short-lived. McCue musically is simplistic yet effective, soft yet poignant. Singing in a hushed voice, McCue delicately harmonizes with an acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by piano or keyboard and drums and the periodic distorted electric guitar to balance things out.

What sets this album apart from other singer/songwriter albums I’ve listened to over the years is the subject of “Screen, Turn On.” Contrary to the title, this album was written (I’ve been told) by McCue during quarantine and they turned off all electronics around them and, well, wrote this album. The subject matter is touching, descriptive and familiar: painting the picture of their living room and the thoughts that eventually came crashing through (something I feel a lot of us felt during quarantine).

Jason McCue is a journeyman musician, traveling all over the United States playing anywhere in search of good music. McCue was actually on the road and touring when the pandemic hit. Affected by the pandemic, like most of us were, McCue channeled that energy into creating an all-around sound (adj.) album. Cover-to-cover, you feel like you’re in McCue’s living room, or better yet, in their mind casually sipping coffee while they sing about the beauty around them. You can check out “Screen, Turn On” on Spotify, Bandcamp and Youtube, also follow Jason McCue on Instagram to see what they’re making!

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