I came across Andy Shauf purely by happenstance during a night of beers and random Youtube rummaging. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite happenstance. I had been searching for the Canadian indie rock band Tuns(Canadian SUPERGROUP, if you will.) One of the members, Chris Murphy, is in Sloan. Sloan is a band I discovered in the mid-90s when my wife and I first built our house and got MuchMusic with a DIRECTV subscription. I was told if I dug Sloan I’d dig Tuns, which I did.
During the that Youtube run I came across the name Andy Shauf. It wasn’t the name that intrigued me as much as the album cover for his then newest release The Party. It looked like the movie poster to some mid-to-late 60s film. It interested me enough to hit play on the video for “The Magician” and all bets were off. Beautifully ornate power pop in the vein of Jellyfish, Jon Brion, and Tom Petty’s Wildflowers.
This led to buying Shauf’s album, which in my mind is this concept record about a guy that never catches a break. The awkward dude that can’t truly express his feelings for the opposite sex, so he stays sadly alone and mildly bitter. It was like a concept album about my formative years. Whenever I listen to that record it has the same mood and feel as Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm or Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude. Character studies in the key of maudlin.
Shauf has announced a new record(following last year’s Foxwarren self-titled.) The Neon Skyline is out on January 24th with ANTI-Records. According to Shauf’s website:
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.
On single “Things I Do” Shauf dissects his own actions at the local dive bar on a night filled with drinks and ghosts of the past. I think it’s something we’ve all asked ourselves after a night of drinks and regretful actions. Well, I know I have anyways. The production is tight and instrumentation pitch perfect, reaching back to the early-to-mid 70s singer/songwriter fare for inspiration. Guitar, piano, and horns coalesce with jazzy drums as Shauf talks about another hopeless night at the Neon Skyline, drinking one too many and not knowing when to hold his tongue.
The Neon Skyline is out January 24th, 2020 on ANTI-Records. Watch “Things I Do” below, and preorder the album here.