Former Yellow Ostrich frontman and touring member of The Tallest Man On Earth Alex Schaaf released his debut full-length album as Human Heat on September 15, 2017 via Offline Records. The album was mostly self-recorded in Schaaf’s home studio, and was mixed and mastered by Zach Hanson (Bon Iver, The Staves) at April Base in Fall Creek, WI.
A recent arrival in Minneapolis, Schaaf had been based in Brooklyn the past few years after moving from Wisconsin to start Yellow Ostrich. Schaaf toured the world with the band’s signature vocal-loop and guitar fuzz style, quickly gaining a sizable audience and signing to Barsuk Records. After four years, the band wrapped up in 2014, with the guys interested in pursuing new avenues of expression. Schaaf then hit the road with other bands, backing artists such as Tei Shi and The Tallest Man on Earth. However, after a few years Schaaf started getting hungry to again focus on his own music. Work started on a new project called Human Heat. Progress was slow at first, as Schaaf worked on a batch of songs for a few months without anything really sticking.
But then, after the sudden end of a relationship at the end of 2016, Schaaf left Brooklyn and relocated across the country back to his native Midwest. Dealing with the raw feelings and heartbreak that emerged from the breakup, Schaaf scrapped old songs and quickly wrote new ones seeped in the bittersweet emotional aftermath. This fresh spark of inspiration manifested as All Is Too Much, his debut full-length as Human Heat. Gone are the quirky vocal loops and signature guitar fuzz of Yellow Ostrich, as Schaaf has transitioned to a smoother, more assured and mature voice — keeping the earnest feelings but channeling them into something new, a sound full of warm synths, heavy organs and stately rhythms.
“These definitely feel like the most personal songs I’ve ever done,” he said. “Heartbreak is one of the oldest pains around, but it was a new one for me.”
Drawing inspiration from old favorites like Arthur Russell and Bill Withers, as well as incorporating more contemporary hints of Caribou, James Blake and Bon Iver, the songs pulse with a barely restrained energy, ranging from the downbeat heartbreak ballads “Remember When” and “Someone Closer” to more upbeat R&B bangers like “I Need My Space” and “Best For You”. The album closes with “2 Is a Stranger”, a song centered on quiet piano and vocoder that lays out a delicate strategy for how to move forward. Hanson plays drums throughout the album, and Jon Natchez (The War on Drugs) adds horns on two tracks. Schaaf has assembled a live band of local Minneapolis musicians that has already started playing shows around the area, preparing for a tour around the album release.
The live band includes local musicians Matt Vannelli (Haley Bonar, Van Stee, Warehouse Eyes), Kevin Scott (Eric Mayson, Hotelecaster, Warehouse Eyes), and Mike Gunvalson (On An On, Val Son, Warehouse Eyes).
JØUR is contrast. head vs heart. light vs dark. clear vs obscure. minimalism vs complexity. analog vs electronic. All of these elements, often pitted against each other, find themselves simultaneously alive and true in a beautiful paradox on JØUR’s debut singles. In the space between loud and quiet, power and serenity, JØUR dances boldly yet delicately. Her deeply contemplative lyrics are framed in accessible alt-pop sensibilities and beats.
George Hadfield is a songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. He has written music for film and TV, and established himself as a notable session bassist and sideman in the legendary Minneapolis music scene. In 2015 he released his first EP, Secret Tapes, combining his love of analog synths, pop, hip-hop, funk and R&B. The title track was listed in the ‘Top 89 Local Songs 2015’ by MPR’s indie tastemakers, The Current. Spotify France featured the track ‘Never Told A Lie’ on their ‘Song Of The Day’ playlist. Hadfield’s full-length debut, Brenda, is a futuristic throwback of mid-tempo meditations.
First known as the front-woman of ‘ethereal, synth-pop band’ Warehouse Eyes, Jennie Lawless has moved on to something more playful, earthly, and boy-less (her partner Chris Gale was the co-writer/producer in WE.) Her two-song EP Two Songs came out in early 2018. On this debut release, we hear the germ of Lawless’ sound—vocal loops, cheap synths, disarmingly direct lyrics, and—most prominently—her arresting voice. “I’m trying to unlearn the idea of music as competition,” says Lawless. “I’m just looking for a couple moments of actual connection.”