Shamir wows with surprise album Be The Yee, Here Comes the Haw - WXPN
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Shamir | via shamir.bandcamp.com

Last week, Shamir dropped a new album and it’s as glittery, defiant, and explorational as anything he’s done before! The Las Vegas-born, Philly-based artist’s three previous albums include: Revelations, Room, and Resolution, all of which have received wide-spread acclaim for their inventive indie pop sound and refusal to be reigned in by genre boundaries. His latest album, Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw, follows in this tradition.

While unconfirmed, its possible that Shamir is channeling the recent yeehaw agenda that made waves on Twitter in 2018 and whipped through the sound and aesthetics of  music industry greats like Solange, Beyonce, and Cardi B. For those who haven’t saddled up to this trend, the yeehaw agenda embraces the rich, and often invisible, history of black cowboys in the United States and pushes for defiant, powerful black musicians decked out in cowboy hats and stir-ups whose music is as adventurous as their tasseled fashion choices. While Shamir’s album only hits at yeehaw, its obvious placement in the title is enough to convince listeners that he has been reading up on this trend and implementing it in his work. But this kind of experimentation with genre isn’t new for Shamir. Maybe Shamir was the original yeehaw, hawing before we knew to yee.

Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw is a dynamic musical exploration. Songs like “Tears Fall in Euphoria” and “They All Control Us Here” remind one of Mitski’s shredding guitars and vocal distortion. “Strong” is a slow burn while “Forever” shoots out of a musical cannon. Shamir’s voice makes Olympic stretches into falsetto moments, especially in “Death of a Pastor”, while, in other moments, he relies on layers of tambourine, synth, and drums. This album combines thoughtful musical layering with compelling lyrics. Lines like “I am not a human being” and “Sometimes I feel like my mentally ill grandmother” stick out in particular, reminding the audience that Shamir will not be defined by any kind of prescribed narrative.

As a whole, Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw is haunting, striking, and deeply personal. It’s clear that Shamir doesn’t take his music lightly, and each note is infused with purpose. Even with this attention to detail, one can appreciate Shamir’s openness on the album. Just as he won’t tell you precisely who he is, he also won’t tell you precisely what to think about his music. Shamir seems more interested in starting a musical conversation rather than dictating meaning. Perhaps this is the true yeehaw agenda: being free enough to release your grip on how your music is interpreted. Drop a surprise album and ride off into the sunset. Definition is for the weak.

Check out Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw on Bandcamp below.

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