If you haven’t noticed our consistent stream of posts surrounding Andy Shauf’s newest album, The Party, then we have some excellent news — we’ve been waiting on this release for months, but you only have to wait a day! Only one more day till we all get to enjoy his understated, beautifully smooth vocals and steady yet dynamic instrumentals. Everything Shauf releases feels strikingly raw and organic, but he still relies on impressive production qualities that deliver a hugely rich experience for the listener. The resulting tracks are undeniably catchy without losing their heart, mostly due to Shauf’s undeniable talents as a songwriter.
When we asked him to collect some songs that inspired The Party, the results were as expected — some of the best songwriters and performers over the past several decades.
Randy Newman – “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”
This is such a beautiful song, I love the string arrangement on it. The part where it changes in the middle is arranged so beautifully. There’s another version where he’s playing it for a live record in the 70s, solo on piano and that’s also a great version. Shows that he didn’t just make a great string arrangement…he wrote an amazing song that also translates well to strings.
Simon and Garfunkel – “America”
I’ve loved this song for a long time, but I heard it again in a different way when I was working on the album, and I just couldn’t stop listening to it. The lyrics are really incredible, the arrangement so textured. There’s a lot going on, but it still sounds so direct and purposeful. Those tom fills are awesome.
St. Vincent – “Dilettante”
This song has the best drum sounds ever. So isolated. St. Vincent is such a good songwriter, and the arrangement of this song is amazing. It works so well, so sparse. I love the way the reverbs come in and out in this song.
Lana Del Rey – “West Coast”
I love the tempo switch in this song. The lyrics really paint a vivid picture for me, I like a lot of the imagery in it. It was my summer jam when it came out, while I was writing the album. It inspired a few songs I wrote about dancing and drinking that didn’t make the cut.
Joe Walsh – “Life’s Been Good”
I remember doing a really long solo drive from Vancouver to Regina, listening to the radio when this song came on. I sat through the intro wondering ‘what in the hell is going on’ and then when the reggae part kicked in I was like ‘yeaaaaaah’. I know this song is a bit corny, but it’s a total jam. I’m putting it on this list because I was struggling with the arrangement for the song “Twist Your Ankle,” and this song sort of jarred my brain. It ended up sounding nothing like this song, but somewhere I have a note to myself that said ‘make it like Joe Walsh reggae song.’
Paul McCartney – “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”
Paul McCartney is a genius and this song is so good. The changes are really smart. One day, one of my roommates was whistling the melody from the middle part of this song, and at that moment, I realized I’d quoted it on one of the songs on The Party (guess which one). It’s obviously in a different key and context, but the same intervals.
Joni Mitchell – “Free Man in Paris”
Great catchy 70s pop song. Really cleverly arranged. I still mess up the beat drops when I’m drumming along on the steering wheel. Love the drumming and the bass line on this song. I really wanted to learn the flute, so I could put it on The Party, but I didn’t get around to it. Those are flutes, right?
Chris Cohen – “Heart Beat”
There was a point in making this album where I was really losing my focus on what I originally wanted the album to be. I started using a lot of synths, and I was using drum samples at one point. It started to get very strange and scattered. Chris Cohen’s record Overgrown Path really helped me to remember what my original intention was and pulled me out of a weird rut. I love this whole album a lot, but my favourite song on the record is “Heartbeat.” I just love the long drawn-out chords and slow changes.
The Curtains – “Go Lucky”
This is another song by Chris Cohen, off an earlier album. I found this one while I was demoing for the album, and it made me realize that acoustic guitar can still sound awesome. It’s real songwriting, and the chord changes are so good.
David Bowie – “The Man Who Sold the World”
This song is amazing. I think I probably heard the Nirvana version first, but the real Bowie version is the best. There’s like a phaser or a flanger on his voice? The production is so cool, and the arrangement is so simple and effective. I remember hearing this song in the back of my friend’s car, going home from the casino at like 2 in the morning, and it just bumming me out how good the song was. Also, I had just lost $60.
The Beatles – “Martha My Dear”
This is one of my favourite songs of all time and probably the reason why I have a song with a character named Martha. The piano part makes me want to keep working at piano.
Carole King – “It’s Too Late”
Another great piano pop song from the 70s, which in general was the main timeframe inspiration for the album. The melody here is beautiful.