Like any other music aficionado, I get an immense kick whenever I stumble upon a new artist. You know the feeling, you see this artist’s name, it piques your interest, you think to yourself, Hmm . . . never heard him before; let’s see what he sounds like. . .
You press play on one of the tracks, and the music just clicks. It’s there, it’s great, and you get the feeling that you’ve always loved this artist’s music (even though you’ve literally just listened to him for the first time). You just know you’ve found your new most favouritest artist ever, and, by golly, you’re going to listen to them obsessively, and then shove them down all your friends‘ throats, and your neighbours’ throats, and your landlord’s throat, and down the throats of the officers who’re swinging by to arrest you for disturbing the peace.
Hmm, well, that just got weird. If any of that made sense: 1) Congratulations, you’re just as messed up as I am, and 2) You’re going to understand how I felt when I first heard Andrew Scandal’s music. My daily trolling through the vastness that is SoundCloud usually yields a few interesting results, but none has been as quick to occupy a permanent spot on my daily listening routine as this Boston-based indie rock/electro musician. The as-of-yet still unsigned Scandal deftly manages to meld these two musical styles into a neat little package, and boy does it work. But, what exactly keeps me listening to his songs over and over again (aside from too much free time)? Well, keep reading, and you’ll find out.
When listening to Scandal’s music you’re instantly struck by how much some tracks sound like perfect, vintage Bowie. A perfect example of this is the song ‘Here it Comes Again’. The bravura, and the Bowie-esque vibrato vocals, are the first things that you notice when first listening to this track. Then you listen to it on repeat for the rest of the morning (or is that just me?). What you notice, though, is that Scandal isn’t just some run-of-the-mill Ziggy impersonator. He has very much his own assured, poised sound.
That individual sound of his is instantly apparent on ‘Superpowers’. Electronic synths swimming through the background, and a stuttering backing beat serve as the sonic canvas over which Scandal’s vocals interweave and intercross in multi-tracked choral glory. Straddling the boundary between indie rock and electronic music, this track is impressive for the simple fact that it manages to sound like a natural, homogenous melding of the two musical styles, instead of a cut-and-paste collage.
‘Heart Attacks’ reminds me somewhat of Talking Heads-era David Byrne: same slightly off-kilter lyrics, same light, somewhat quirky musical accompaniment. If there ever was a song that was written especially for Sunday morning listening, it’s ‘Heart Attacks’. You just get so into the track that by the end, you’re shocked that you’ve spent three minutes and forty seconds, and despite that, you wish the song was longer.
‘Tio Flamingo‘ is somewhat of a curveball, but in a very, very good way. Obsessively loopy, and wonderfully electro-rock, this song paints a slightly absurdist scenery of green guitars, pyramids, and vodka cranberries (not really sure what that means, but as long as it involves booze, I’m in). This is one track that (for me) is impossible to listen to only once. The frenetic backing synths, driving beat, and the slightly manic, quirk-leaden vocals make this one of those songs that are impossible to put down.
‘Rainy Room’, which Scandal recorded with his band, The Lightyears (bassist John Budney, drummer Ben Gworek, and guitarist John Bragg), might just be the best track on this album. And, considering that I have yet to find a bad track on this record, that’s kinda saying something (more specifically, it’s saying, “Look out for this guy, he’s going to make it big”). A sort of casual, lighthearted tone pervades this track. Coy guitar bends in the background make for a teasingly charming counterpoint to the rest of the instrumentation. Lyrics like “Balance schmalence / I’ll take a dream over a date / Maybe that’s wrong,” and “It was all too much / Now I’m watching my steps and I’m watching my weight” give this track the feeling of someone having finally gotten their life in order (maybe after a bad breakup?). The whole vibe of the recording (both musically, and lyrically) is that of self assurance in the face of the unpredictability of life (either that, of I’m projecting my feelings onto the song . . . or something).
All in all, I’ve gotta say that I’m looking forward to the album release. As far as I’m concerned, this one’s going to be a 2014 classic.
I caught up with Scandal, and he agreed to a short interview, which will coincide with the album’s release. It’s coming soon to a website near you (or, you know, the Raz Mataz website).