The latest single “Hasan” from Schaus’ album Grinding continues exploring how Scott Schaus has expanded his songwriting talents since the release of its predecessor Quite Okay. His idiosyncratic brand of bedroom pop has no clear antecedent in the modern indie music scene but nonetheless proves accessible to any attentive listener. The Pacific Northwest based songwriter/musician oversaw each aspect of the new single’s presentation and the alt-pop inclinations of the performance are clear throughout the recording.
Schaus pushes harder against the boundaries of popular song on “Hasan” than his previous single “Happy”, but similarities abound. They share common ground for atmospherics and intimacy. It is impressive how Schaus, with limited tools at his disposal, nonetheless achieves a layered and cinematic sound. It smooths over the song’s challenging passages for listeners. The vocal approach is the same. Schaus’ music certainly undergoes thorough postproduction polish but schaus shows a steady hand for appropriate proportions. Nothing about his musical treatment for the song smacks of self-indulgence.
The electronic and pre-programmed musical contributes to “Hasan” never sound soulless. He shapes these elements into coherent passages rather than just a massing of effects; the level of musicality they achieve is an impressive testament to Schaus’ inner ear. Mathematical precision is another defining element of schaus’ sonic attack. Listeners won’t hear any “holes” in “Hasan”; it is orchestrated down to the last note and packs a lot of snap.
It is a restless song and sprawls some despite its brief duration; it is one of its few subjective weaknesses that some listeners may find no one motif lingers long enough to make a lasting impression the consciousness. Its very inventiveness dilutes its impact. The arrangement, however, will dazzle many listeners with its rambunctiousness, obvious inspiration, and assortment of hairpin musical turns. “Hasan” refuses the luxury of indifference; you will either love or hate this song in the end.
It ranks as an ambitious release – no matter if you consider it as part of a song collection or as a standalone single. Schaus contains a wide-ranging musical vision within a little over four minutes and, despite its pace, never feels rushed at all. He is more than capable of matching the rollicking risk-taking powering the songwriting; there is a sense of confidence, as well, permeating the performance from its beginning to end.
It is evident why Schaus has earned for acts such as Wild Ones and John Maus. Important festival slots presented themselves with an appearance at the PDX Pop Now Festival. Scott Schaus’ music gains acceptance despite its often unusual shape and texture. His full length release Grinding promises to be a watershed moment in his brief recording career when he breaks through to a higher level of visibility and popularity than ever before. Singles the quality of “Hasan” are obvious candidates for leading the way. He will wow any newcomers who enjoyed “Happy” with an eye-popping turn towards the daring with this new single. 2020 is shaping up to be a transformative year for Scott Schaus’ musical ambitions on the heels of what promises to be one of the year’s most compelling releases.