Schaus’ artistic lens is quite unique. His new album Grinding portrays what he calls seeing the world through the touring musician’s viewpoint, eyeing that success, clawing and reaching for the popularity. And, the other, through the eyes of a person in love, the physical love attributions. Grinding, a 14-track spectacle, is Scott Schaus’ odyssey. Listeners on this journey with him feel the love, the hurt, confusion and unknown his grand tale.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Schaus’ songs exhibit much more electronica pulses and brushstrokes of EDM than traditional pop music. Some of the tracks can go from eerie to happy in an instant, or some have a more erratic presentation. In track seven, “Happy”, there’s a sticky, rubbery groove. “Honey please, honey” Schaus seductively sings. His voice is deep, his singing style more along the line of Right Said Fred or like David Bowie in “China Girl”.
Track 11, “Much” is knee-jerk and sounds spin out of control. He sings “feel it in my soul” and as a listener, I felt such honesty and vulnerability in his voice. In a sound that sounds like a blinking light, cutting through the music bed, he continues in an almost lamenting voice “that longing that I have…it was all you have, you gave.” Sadness, perhaps? He pours his heart out in a sonic spray – the music is daunting and invigorating all-at-once.
My favorite song “Lox Land” (track 12). The opening measures have a sweet-sound. His voice is a bit inaudible then sort of blossoms into clear words. When he sings “I’m thinking about you” he draws out ‘about’ and before you know it, he has it on repeat, like a needle stuck on a vinyl record. Then, the moment almost comes to a near dramatic halt. It’s a quick song – clocking in at just over a minute-and-a-half. I think “Lox Land” is my favorite because it’s so bizarre. It actually had me toe-tapping and it’s completely like no other song I’ve ever heard. The more I listened to it, the more I felt like it’s a take on unrequited love. Who hasn’t been in that situation where the world just sort of stops and you’re stuck on repeat with one thought and can’t break free – you keep revisiting that feeling and just can’t shake it.
Special nods to “Bang Me, Buy Me” (quirky 60s lounge feel), the title track (just a stellar music bed that seems strangely calming) and track 10, “Hold Your Hand” (fun keyboard mix). With 14 tracks, there are many chances to find something for whatever mood has you fixating.
Overall, Grinding is quite the musical journey. Schaus finagles a variety of beats, mixes and unique electronic pulses to give the listener a wide array of reactions. He manages to create his own musical genre, I think they’ll dig it. It might take a few listens to glean what Schaus is singing, but I think some fans of traditional pop music will appreciate the tones and emotions from these songs.