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Next Week in Music | February 6-12 • The Short List: 4 Titles You Want to Hear

Andy Shauf, Paramore, Quasi and Yo La Tengo. Really, what more could you want?

Andy Shauf goes dark, Paramore explain themselves, Quasi make history and Yo La Tengo think globally. And really, what more do you need? These are your plays of the week:


Andy Shauf

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Andy Shauf writes albums that unfold like short fiction, full of colorful characters, fine details and a rich emotional depth. With his new LP Norm, however, Shauf has slyly deconstructed and reshaped the style for which he’s been celebrated, elevating his songwriting with intricate layers and perspectives, challenging himself to find a new direction. Under the guise of an intoxicating collection of jazz-inflected romantic ballads, his storytelling has become decidedly more oblique, hinting at ominous situations and dark motivations. Captivated by David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which seemed to validate Shauf’s instinct to mix perspectives and tinker with shadowy narratives, he wrote and rewrote all of the album’s original lyrics, recreating the story and even enlisting a story editor. It was only after writing the title track that Shauf decided to build a narrative around the character Norm. “The character of Norm is introduced in a really nice way,” Shauf says of the pleasant songs that precede the album’s centerpiece. “But the closer you pay attention to the record, the more you’re going to realize that it’s sinister.” With Norm, he recreated his idea of a concept album, and also made it about faith and fatalism. But Shauf has realized he doesn’t need to moralize. He’s assigned that task to us, the listeners. At once narrators and investigators, we fill in the blanks.”

This Is Why

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Paramore are back with their first new music since 2017. The beloved Nashville trio of Zac Farro, Hayley Williams and Taylor York have returned from their hiatus — and the global pandemic — with This Is Why. Recorded in Los Angeles, California with long-time collaborator Carlos de la Garza, the album features 10 new songs. Entering back into a world — and cultural landscape — very different from the one they last participated in, Paramore wrote a song (and album) about exactly that. This Is Why is a deliciously infectious ear-worm for the post-truth world. Of the song, Williams says, “This Is Why was the very last song we wrote for the album. To be honest, I was so tired of writing lyrics but Taylor convinced Zac and I both that we should work on this last idea. What came out of it was the title track for the whole album. It summarizes the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last three or four years. You’d think after a global pandemic of fucking biblical proportions and the impending doom of a dying planet, that humans would have found it deep within themselves to be kinder or more empathetic or something.”

Breaking The Balls Of History

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Breaking The Balls Of History is Quasi’s 10th record, landing 10 years after their last record, on Feb. 10th. Three tens, which aligns with the 30 years they’ve played together. Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss have become Pacific Northwest icons, and Quasi has always felt so steadfast — their enduring friendship so generative, their energy infinite, each album more raucous and catchy and ferocious and funny than the last. But we were wrong to ever take Quasi for granted. For a while, they thought 2013’s intricate Mole City might be their last record. They’d go out on a great one and move on. Then in August 2019 a car smashed into Janet’s and broke both legs and her collarbone. Then a deadly virus collided with all of us. “There’s no investing in the future anymore,” Janet realized. “The future is now. Do it now if you want to do it. Don’t put it off. All those things you only realize when it’s almost too late. It could be gone in a second.” Under lockdown, Sam and Janet bunkered down in their tiny practice space and channeled the bewilderment and absurdity of this alien new world into songs. “When you’re younger and in a band, you make records because that’s what you do,” Sam said. “But this time, the whole thing felt purposeful in a way that was unique to the circumstances.” They knew they would keep it to just the two of them playing together in a room. They knew they’d record the songs live and together, to capture a moment. The incredible result of those sessions is Breaking The Balls Of History.”

Yo La Tengo
This Stupid World

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Time keeps moving and things keep changing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight back. Yo La Tengo have raced time for nearly four decades and they just keep winning. The trio’s latest victory is called This Stupid World, a spellbinding set of reflective songs that resist the ticking clock. This music is not so much timeless as time-defiant. “I want to fall out of time,” Ira Kaplan sings in Fallout. “Reach back, unwind.” Part of how Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew escape time is by watching it pass, even accepting it when they must. But This Stupid World is also filled with calls to reject time — bide it, ignore it, waste it. Of course, times have changed for Yo La Tengo as much as they have for everyone else. In the past, the band has often worked with outside producers and mixers. They made This Stupid World all by themselves. And their time-tested judgment is both sturdy enough to keep things to the band’s high standards, and nimble enough to make things new.”