by Dan Graham
I’ve been listening to Shoos Off since the release of their sophomore LP, Issues, in July 2013. My job last summer involved a lot of graveyard shifts where I’d work from 12 to 830AM to make sure that nothing went wrong late at night, which nothing ever did. I watched a lot of TV during those shifts but I’d usually look up music for a few hours as well. Most of the music I found didn’t sound quite as good in the morning, but Shoos Off is one of the groups that stuck with me.
The opening tracks of Issues are less memorable, minus “Anywhere,” one of my favorites from the album. It features an excellent sample of Louis CK in its bridge from an appearance on late night TV, where the comedian says “Everything is awesome right now,” a sentiment that the upbeat and positive lyrics of the following songs seem to agree with. “Anywhere” and the following “foodcoma” also feature rapper Dave Grantham, whose sound borrows heavily from Atmosphere’s Slug and Macklemore. I enjoyed the rap lines, but it seemed somewhat out of place being on only two songs. The final four songs on the album are all excellent, beginning with the slow and jazzy “Oh Sunny Days” which leads to the pop-y and unforgettable “Casanova.” Following those songs is the title track, an fast-paced song with shuffling drum patterns and a hook that I found myself singing randomly all last year, even though I couldn’t make out most of the words. The album closes with a piano-driven record titled “Corners,” a pop-based finish to a solid, if somewhat scattered, album.
This week, almost exactly a year after Issues, Shoos Off released a follow-up EP, Most Times. Where their previous work was more upbeat and pop-influenced, this EP takes that vibe into a slower R&B direction. Patrick Killeen’s vocals, supported by Scott Zschomler’s harmonies, are high and clear, but when paired with more mellow melodies they create a more soulful and relaxing sound, also on display in Issues’ “Oh Sunny Days”. Some of the backing beats, especially on “Most Times,” sound like they could be taken from either a Wilco song circa Sky Blue Sky or a classic Al Green track. The absence of Dave Grantham’s raps, as well as the addition of more musicians and instruments, helps to define the band’s sound as more indie R&B/soul than a hip-hop/electronic/indie melting pot. I, for one, love this direction and can’t wait to hear more from Shoos Off in the future. Hopefully it’ll be less than a year before their next release.
HIGHLIGHTS: Casanova, Issues (Issues) East Coast Women, Most Times (Most Times)
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