Posts Tagged ‘Andy Shauf’

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Singer Songwriter Andy Shauf’s coy, almost boyish voice sounds especially tragic when he says something that breaks your heart. Over the past few years, Shauf has perfected his signature lilt, a habit of unexpectedly pitching up the second half of a word and delicately fading it out, like the brief fluttering of wings. When he does this on his recent single “Spanish on the Beach”—stretching out “wished” and “permanent” in the line, “I wished it could be permanent” you imagine it’s followed by an amused, self-deprecating chuckle. What a silly little thought, he seems to say.

Whispered words in a romantic language set the scene for “Spanish on the Beach,” in which Shauf’s narrator vacations with Judy, the ex who previously sent him down an 11-track memory lane on 2020’s wistful concept album “The Neon Skyline”. The song is deceptively idyllic: A gentle bassline pairs with easy guitar strums; maudlin woodwind drifts in for dramatic effect. Remembered images of Judy’s “long dark dress” and the musicians’ “smiling eyes” populate the song; at one point, Shauf imagines making a “mortifying” over-the-top proposal, like a scene from La La Land’s technicolor fantasy. But tucked between cool cynicism and glam surroundings are the signs of an expired romance: When Judy tries to talk to the narrator in Spanish, he “turn[s] away to watch the musicians play.” They’re doomed, and he knows it.

The Toronto-based Andy Shauf didn’t wait long to follow up his acclaimed 2020 album “The Neon Skyline”, announcing his surprise latest LP just days before its release. A press release allows that Wilds “can certainly be interpreted as a companion piece” to its predecessor, as its nine tracks were picked from the 50-odd songs Shauf had recorded while writing The Neon Skyline. Presented in “near-unfiltered form,” the songs on “Wilds” are intended to stand on their own while also providing a window into Shauf’s Neon Skyline-period creative process, returning to that album’s tales of broken romance and everyday escapism. Shauf plays all the instruments, arranges on the fly and records to “a little tape machine” in his Toronto studio, delivering a warm, intimate baroque-pop, folk and rock record.

ANDY SHAUF – ” Jaywalker “

Posted: September 23, 2021 in MUSIC
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Singer Songwriter Andy Shauf recently released a new single, “Spanish On The Beach” a few weeks ago and now he’s announced that it’s part of new album “Wilds”, which will be out this Friday, September 24th via ANTI-Records. Its nine songs were all from the same sessions that gave us last year’s brilliant “The Neon Skyline”, though Wilds is less polished. Shauf played all the instruments on the album, came up with the arrangements “on the fly,” and laid it all down on “a little tape machine” in his Toronto studio. A collection of 9 songs written and recorded by Andy Shauf between March and May of 2018.

“Jaywalker” from the album ‘Wilds’, available September 24th

Last year, Andy Shauf released his most recent and a terrific album, “The Neon Skyline”. (We named it among one of  the vest albums of 2020 .) Now, Shauf’s finally about to hit the road and play these songs live, and ahead of kicking his tour off he’s shared a new single.

Shauf’s latest is called “Spanish On The Beach.” As usual with Shauf, it’s a story song — depicting a couple on a resort vacation. There is also reference to Judy, the character from The Neon Skyline. “It’s the same theme as the story ended up being at the Skyline but the narrator’s life is a little bit booze-fuelled,” Shauf said of the song. “And this vacation is kind of like the first stop on the way to destruction.”

“Spanish On The Beach” is out now via Anti-Records.

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A man walks into a bar, and his best friend tells him that his ex-girlfriend is back in town; the man considers the highs and lows of their relationship until she wanders in and he sees her again. Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf’s transfixing latest album is constructed around this narrative, but The Neon Skyline is also about the everyday details that we hold onto, that help define us, and which help us move on from loss. Fans of Sufjan Stevens and Jose Gonzalez should stumble into Shauf’s gorgeously rendered folk-pop storytelling with little hesitation

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All singer-songwriters are storytellers of a sort, but neither term does justice to what Andy Shauf accomplishes on The Neon Skyline Each of its 11 tracks are chapters from the same narrative, vignettes that cohere into something like a novel or an indie film. The arc is simple: guy runs into his ex at the bar, flashes back on falling in and out of love, awkwardly flirts for a while, and heads home. But Shauf ties those scenes together with emotional insight and an artful touch, sound tracked by luscious retro pop-rock arrangements that make the story feel timeless despite its meticulous sense of place.

Andy Shauf released one of 2020’s most highly praised albums, Neon Skyline.

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In the story cycle of Andy Shauf’s new album “The Neon Skyline”, “Where Are You Judy?” is the inciting incident: Shauf’s lonely barfly discovers his ex-girlfriend is back in town, and gets it in his head that he needs to see her again. You hardly need the other songs on the record to get a complete experience of it – to be honest, given that I like this song more than the others and I prefer not following up on where the character goes from here, I prefer it on its own. Shauf conveys a lot of information with economical language, first sketching out the character’s romantic notion of why his relationship with Judy ended, i.e., that she was enticed away by the possibilities of flashy experiences somewhere else. He fantasizes about her giving him a call, telling him that she got bored of all that, that what she was chasing instead of staying with him was empty. And, by extension, that what they had together…that was fulfilling. The final chorus turns that flash of egocentric optimism inside-out without changing a word.

Instead of wondering where she literally is in the moment, he’s flashing back to her lying in bed with him, her mind a million miles away. “Where are you, Judy?”

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Canadian indie-folk musician Andy Shauf has already released a few charming singles from his forthcoming concept album “The Neon Skyline”, including “Things I Do.” Shauf’s captivating storytelling lays out a crumbling relationship on the single, one piece of the bigger tale told across the record. “Things I Do” opens with a laid-back groove highlighted by a soft chorus of saxophones that give way to Shauf’s anecdote. “Seems like I should have known better / Than to turn my head like it didn’t matter,” he sings at the beginning. In a similar fashion to Shauf’s 2016 record, The Party .

The Neon Skyline’s structure follows a storyline that takes place over the course of a night, according to a press release: “The interconnected songs on The Neon Skyline, all written, performed, arranged and produced by Shauf, follow a simple plot: The narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up.

“Things I Do” by Andy Shauf from the album ‘The Neon Skyline,’ available January 24th, 2020

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Few artists are storytellers as deft and disarmingly observational as Andy Shauf. The Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician’s songs unfold like short fiction: they’re densely layered with colorful characters and a rich emotional depth. On his new album The Neon Skyline(out January 24th via ANTI-Records), he sets a familiar scene of inviting a friend for beers on the opening title track: “I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.’ He just laughed, said ‘I’ll be late, you know how I can be.'” The LP’s 11 interconnected tracks follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. While its overarching narrative is riveting, the real thrill of the album comes from how Shauf finds the humanity and humor in a typical night out and the ashes of a past relationship.

His last full-length 2016’s The Party was an impressive collection of ornate and affecting songs that followed different attendees of a house party. Shauf’s attention-to-detail in his writing evoked Randy Newman and his unorthodox, flowing lyrical phrasing recalled Joni Mitchell. Though that album was his breakthrough, his undeniable songwriting talent has been long evident. Raised in Bienfait, Saskatchewan, he cut his teeth in the nearby Regina music community. His 2012 LP The Bearer of Bad News documented his already-formed musical ambition and showcased Shauf’s burgeoning voice as a narrative songwriter with songs like “Hometown Hero,” “Wendell Walker,” and “My Dear Helen” feeling like standalone, self-contained worlds. In 2018, his band Foxwarren, formed over 10 years ago with childhood friends, released a self-titled album where Pitchfork recognized how “Shauf has diligently refined his storytelling during the last decade.”

The Party earned a spot on the Polaris Music Prize 2016 shortlist and launched Shauf to an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as glowing accolades from NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and more. “That LP was a concept record and it really made me want to do a better album. I wanted to have a more cohesive story,” says Shauf. Where the concept of The Party revealed itself midway through the writing process, he knew the story he wanted to tell on The Neon Skyline from the start. “I kept coming back to the same situation of one guy going to a bar, which was basically exactly what I was doing at the time. These songs are fictional but it’s not too far off from where my life was,” Shauf explains.

For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to start each composition on guitar instead of his usual piano. He says, “I wanted to be able to sit down and play each song with just a guitar without having to rely on some sort of a clever arrangement to make it whole.” The resulting album finds its immediacy in simplicity. While the arrangements on folksy “The Moon” are unfussy and song-centered like the best Gordon Lightfoot offerings, his drive to experiment is still obvious. This is especially so on the unmoored relationship autopsy “Thirteen Hours,” which boasts an arrangement that’s both jazzy and adventurous.

Like he’s done throughout his career, Shauf wrote, performed, arranged, and produced every song on The Neon Skyline, this time at his new studio space in the west end of Toronto. Happy accidents like Shauf testing out a new spring reverb pedal led to album cuts like the woozy closer “Changer” and experimenting with tape machines forced him to simplify how he’d arrange the tracks. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, Shauf ended up with almost 50 songs all about the same night at the bar. Though paring down his massive body of work to a single album’s worth of material was a challenge for Shauf, the final tracklist is seamless and fully-formed.

As much as The Neon Skyline is about a normal night at a bar with friends and a bartender who knows exactly what you’ll order before you sit down, the album is also about the painful processing of a lost love. Lead single “Things I Do” examines the dissolution of the narrator’s past relationship. Over tense and jazz-minded instrumentation, Shauf sings, “Seems like I should have known better than to turn my head like it didn’t matter. Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?” He explains, “a lot of this record is a breakup record. I haven’t had a breakup in a long time, but a lot of relationships have had one of those nights where one person shows up somewhere when they weren’t supposed to and then picks a fight with their partner.” Elsewhere, songs like “Clove Cigarette” explore the better times, honing in on a memory that “takes me back to your summer dress.”

With any album about a lost love, the key ingredient is a generosity and kindness that can only come from a writer as empathic as Shauf. On the standout personality-filled single “Try Again,” the narrator, his friends, and his ex find themselves at a new bar. The former lovers’ reunion is awkwardly funny and even sweet, as he sings, “Somewhere between drunkenness and charity, she puts her hand on the sleeve of my coat. She says ‘I’ve missed this.’ I say “I know, I’ve missed you too.” She says, ‘I was actually talking about your coat.'” It’s a charming moment on a record filled with them. Shauf’s characters are all sympathetic here, people who share countless inside jokes, shots, and life-or-death musings on things like reincarnation when the night gets hazy.

On top of heartbreak, friendship, and the mundane moments of humanity that define his songwriting, Shauf makes music that explores how easy it is to find yourself in familiar patterns and repeat the same mistakes of your past. His characters wonder, “Did this relationship end too soon? Would going to another bar cheer my friend up?” Or in the case of the foreboding “Living Room,” where a character asks herself, “How hard is it to give a shit?” the songs on The Neon Skyline ultimately take solace in accepting that life goes on and things will be okay. Shauf says, “there’s moments on the album where the characters are thinking ‘this is the end of the world.’ But there are also moments with some clarity and perspective: Nothing is the end of the world.”

One awesome thing about Andy Shauf: He didn’t leave his friends behind. After breaking through in a huge way with 2016’s Polaris-nominated The Party, the Canadian singer-songwriter went back for a whole album and touring cycle with Foxwarren, his band with childhood friends from Saskatchewan, rather than push forward with his solo career.

Now, though, it’s time to get that solo career rolling again. Shauf is back today with “Things I Do,” the lead single from a new album called The Neon Skyline. It’s a concept album about a narrator visiting his neighborhood dive, discovering his ex is back in town, and eventually coming face-to-face with her. This song in particular is about the relationship falling apart. It’s the sort of lush, jazzy retro pop-rocker Shauf made his name on, continually returning to the refrain: “Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?”

Written, performed, arranged and produced by Andy Shauf

“Try Again” by Andy Shauf from the album ‘The Neon Skyline,’ available January 24th, 2020

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Andy Shauf’s excellent 2016 album The Party – a wallflower indie pop concept album about the depressing aspects of drinking and socializing – brought his approach and sound to the mainstream, making fans eager for his next offering. For Toronto-via-Saskatchewan’s multi-instrumentalist baroque pop prince, it comes in the form of a self-titled debut from his hometown band, Foxwarren. Actually, this is technically Foxwarren’s sophomore album, but Shauf has been rather secretive about the group’s past work.

From a musical standpoint, Foxwarren – featuring Shauf’s ethereal, honey-toned, voice and his acoustic guitar, his childhood friends D.A. and Avery Kissick and Dallas Bryson – is quite similar to the sound of The Party. Still, Foxwarren doesn’t feel like Andy Shauf and his backing band; it feels like a creative, cohesive group.

Opening track To Be sets up the themes of the album without hesitation. Much like Shauf’s solo work, motifs of isolation, depression and other sombre notes live within the songs.

The instrumentation is eccentrically diverse and well thought out. Foxwarren seems to be a band that, at times, throws traditional song convention out the window. Everything Apart begins with a lone, steady snare drum and morphs into an almost psychedelic organ prog rock epic, then blissfully comes to a close with a standard indie guitar line. It takes tremendous production skill to make those jumps seem effortless.

The album does, however, have its fault with the song I’ll Be Alright, featuring Shauf and his acoustic. It sounds like a B-side of his solo work and falls slightly flat when compared to a song like Fall Into A Dream, a jumpy groove that makes perfect use of its indie funk guitar riff and angelic harmonies. The song brings to mind the early days of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, highlighting a droney, psychotropic jam between the Kissick brothers, Bryson and Shauf.

I truly hope Foxwarren remains one of the main projects for Shauf. While he certainly didn’t take a back seat during Foxwarren’s process, it’s refreshing hearing him in a new, collaborative light.

Foxwarren

Subtle and thoughtful, Foxwarren – the four person band comprised of Toronto solo artist Andy Shauf and his hometown friends, who released their self-titled debut album last year – draws parallels to Shauf’s solo work while leaning on collaboration and looseness rather than Shauf’s meticulous arrangements. The new music video for Foxwarren’s “Lost on You” also makes a strong case for following your gut instincts. Canadian filmmakers Mark Klassen and Hope Little were about to depart on a road trip across Nevada’s Death Valley to the Pacific Coast of California and at the last minute decided to bring their lighting design equipment with them, to experiment with along the trip’s route. Along the way they stopped when the conditions were just right to film and from this footage the “Lost on You” video was born.

“Lost on You” by Foxwarren from the self-titled album, available now on Anti- and Arts & Crafts