Amen Dunes on Living a Million Musical Lives

See also: Up on the Sun the Podcast, Featuring Amen Dunes and Our Levon Helm Tribute

When New York-based songwriter Damon McMahon, the man behind the shadowy, warbly pysch-folk of Amen Dunes, says he's lived a million musical lives, he's exaggerating only a little. He spent his early 20s in the buzz band INOUK, then embarked on an ill-fated folk career on the mostly electronic label Astralwerks.

As that fell apart, he began recording as Amen Dunes. Often likened to Skip Spence's OAR (McMahon name-drops Big Star's Third, as well), the songs are as meditative as they are thoroughly melodic. The songs represent more than a retreat from music business machinations; they are also honest reflections of McMahon as a songwriter and man, however veiled and obscured. We discussed the record, his time in China, and why he's ready to leave the freaky folk stuff behind and make another pop record.

Amen Dunes is scheduled to perform Tuesday, May 1, at Chasers in Scottsdale.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.