Pow Magazine

Sunwatchers’ McHugh Strikes the BLM Bell

John J. Callahan, PhD

July 6, 2020 – Back in 2006, Jim McHugh convinced a Cleveland concert promoter to allow members of his band to ascend the shuttered belfry of St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church. In the hours earlier, McHugh’s 12-piece freakout band from Athens, Georgia, had played Parish Hall, the repurposed church-property turned avant rock venue. Ever the rule breaker, McHugh rang the retired church bell.

“The entire tower shook” with frightening percussive strength, recalls McHugh.


That was the heady days of Dark Meat, McHugh’s former band. Now he is the guitarist of the Sunwatchers. McHugh also backs Thee Oh Sees’ Brigid Dawson on her latest release, Ballet of Apes.

Today, the Sunwatchers’ McHugh is striking a different bell. His bell, atop the confines of his Brooklyn, New York apartment studio, tolls for thee. The tone is his unique brand of modern psych folk. McHugh demands resistance to the familiar engines of capitalism: End the generational exploitation of racial inequality in the United States.

McHugh’s songs roam with frenzied urgency.

Dig on “The masher sez ABOLISH WORK. end Employment now!”, a three song EP, released through Centripetal Force. Masher is the second in a series of quarantine generated home recordings from Jim McHugh. The release, a three-song collection, contains all original compositions. McHugh’s unfortunate muse are the murders of black folks at the hands of a fractured and flawed police apparatus.

McHugh demands resistance to the familiar engines of capitalism: End the generational exploitation of racial inequality in the United States.

McHugh proudly cites his protopunk-jazz heroes, Peter Laughner and Albert Ayler, as his primary inspirations. Throw in the buzz of the Byrds and the dissonance of Sonic Youth and you begin to understand Masher. McHugh’s songs roam with frenzied urgency. “The Soil for the Seed” buzzes with McGuinn. “Abolish Work” and “Song for the Gone” shimmer with the unnerving incomprehension of injustice realized.  

The songs are available on Bandcamp on a sliding scale starting at eight bucks. Pony up, people, as Black Lives Matter, NYC And Black Lives Matter, Nashville will receive all funds generated by the sale of this music.

Great Lakes Reverberation. John J. Callahan, PhD. POW/WCSB Joining POW In the summer of love, 2019, John Callahan, co-host of the Friday Night Rock Rotation, has been a conspicuous presence on WCSB for 16 years. John is known for spinning modern psych in the vein of Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM). Interviews of his favorite artists are also his thing. The Magnetic Fields, Dream Syndicate, Black Angels, and Dandy Warhols have all shared the airwaves of the Rock Rotation. John’s first review/interview dates back to 1991 when he shot the chit-chat with shoegaze legends Chris Acland and Emma Anderson of Lush. Today it's spacing out with Fuxa, Pontiak, and Kim Gordon for the love of all things rock ‘n’ roll. It’s coffee over Moon Duo as he plots his next interviews with the Caribou, Chad VanGaalen, and Ty Segall. Oh yeah, Dr. Callahan is a life long special education teacher, swimmer, and Dad. You can find his super-sharp wife and family leading the way into Cleveland-area record stores and flower gardens.