2020, Music

The Neon Skyline (2020) by Andy Shauf

I really do not like Andy Shauf’s voice. This is the second of three albums I’m listening to where he is the lead singer and I just do not like. His voice remind’s me of Van Dyke Parks’, not in tenor but how they both sound like they are trying to hid something from the listener, only Shauf’s voice is filtered through decades of indie rock and pop punk singers trying to sound “bad” as an artistic statement of saying “I’m not mainstream.” Parks’ voice is worse – much worse? – but there’s a similar quality that makes it very, very hard for me to listen to Shauf’s music and not be annoyed.

Actually, Shauf sounds like some weird amalgam of Paul Simon and Van Dyke Parks, so way off of my “filtered through decades of indie rock and pop punk.” I’m not sure I noticed the Simon thing before but it makes sense that it would bug me too, because I don’t particularly like Paul Simon.

I’m always fascinated when the primary songwriters of bands go it alone to make music that sounds exactly like the music their band made. Now, in this example it’s not really fair because Foxwarren has fewer albums than Shauf does on his own but I always wonder why. I’m sure the explanation is always personality clashes.

So there’s a plot. Shauf is one of a number of rootsy ish 21st century North American songwriters who like to write songs that contribute to plots. I can tell you that I did not pay attention to the plot. I generally don’t pay attention to lyrics unless I’ve listened to a song a lot of times OR I find the music so objectionable I’m searching for bad lyrics to also complain about. (I don’t love how on at least one song he refuses to rhyme his words.) I like the ambition but I don’t like his voice, so…

The music is similar to Foxwarren but even mellower overall, I think. Everything is pretty sedate and I kind of wish there was more energy. That being said, it’s artier – really far jazzier – than I remember Foxwarren and that’s to his credit. There’s more going on in some of these songs for me to pay attention to other than his voice.


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