Spectral passages 

Macha and Bedhead 'Believe' in each other

"It was kind of like a joke that got bigger than all of us," says Macha's lead vocalist/instrumentalist Joshua McKay. What McKay is referring to is the tongue-in-cheek cover of Cher's hit "Believe," which appears as track 86 on the Athens quartet's new collaborative EP project, Macha Loved Bedhead, released under the name Bedhead Loved Macha. But even more interesting than the kitsch Cher cover, where McKay uses the numbers on a touch-tone phone to play the simple melody, is the development of the 34-minute EP itself.

"Basically this project had this kind of circular evolution to it, with us not knowing what was coming from Bedhead and them having no idea what was happening to the initial seedlings they'd sent off," says McKay. The project began last year when Bedhead's two core songwriters, brothers Bubba and Matt Kadane sent a very skeletal eight-track recording with drums and guitars to their friends in Macha. The Kadane brothers grew up with McKay and his bandmate/brother Mischo McKay in Wichita Falls, Texas, (which Joshua McKay describes as a "nowhere town") and attended junior high school together. The EP was a way for the brothers of Macha and Bedhead to manifest their mutual respect for one another's musicality, and a way to finally fulfill their vow to record something together.

Macha took the tapes from Bedhead and fleshed out the tracks with their signature instrumentation — vibes, maracas, zithers, Thai xylophone, drums, bass and their favorite organ, the Fun Machine. Materials crossed thousands of miles, from Athens to Dallas to Cambridge, Mass., including artwork and tapes of vocals and music, and neither group knew what was coming from the other. But before the EP was completed, Bedhead disbanded, and the theme of loss and letting go permeates the songs.

"During the time of making the record, finishing it up, I was definitely aware of the transience of things, and watching things pass," says Joshua McKay. This theme is especially evident on two tracks, the breathy, pop-oriented "Hey Goodbye," and the somber, ambient "Only the Bodies Survive." But the EP also shows the constant progress of Macha's songwriting, as the group adapts a sparse, almost trance-like sound on tracks such as "Never Underdose," which also demonstrates Bedhead's musical presence and influence on the project.

"I think the cool thing is that it really is like a spectral passage, with Macha on one end and Bedhead on the other," says McKay, as he reflects on the project as a whole. Macha Loved Bedhead by Bedhead Loved Macha is unique in that it's not a split EP, but rather a collaborative effort in which two bands constructed songs together by responding to one another's creative input without really spending studio time together.

McKay gushes when speaking of the collaboration as a capsule of the Macha/Bedhead relationship. "It was a really fun way to make a record with a surprise element that was capped off with Matt agreeing to sing the vocals for 'Believe.' We're no match for a pop song like that, no match for the song and what it does to your brain."

Jetset Records releases Macha Loved Bedhead by Bedhead Loved Macha Tues., April 25.

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