Muzz is a new band comprised of three gentlemen you probably know from other bands. Paul Banks is the singer in Interpol, has a project with The RZA called Banks + Steelz, and has released records as a solo artist. Matt Barrick played drums for Jonathan Fire*Eater and The Walkmen, and you’ve likely seen him on tour with Fleet Foxes. Josh Kaufman is a third of the folk group Bonny Light Horseman and has his producer mitts all over esteemed recordings by The National, Bob Weir, The Hold Steady, The War on Drugs, and many more.
Sonically, the band aimed for a timeless tone, one that would make the music hard to place when viewed from some distance. In fact, the band’s name holds a meaning that serves to describe that very feeling. “We didn’t want the record’s era to be overly identifiable, so we used traditional recording methods with a live, analog feeling,” Banks says. “It’s a little more naked and open at times. Josh uses the word ‘muzz’ to describe a texture of sound he likes in certain older recordings, so it’s his attempt to put a term to a subtle analog quality. It became very married to our sound.”
“The music has this weird, super removed vibe but is also personal and emotional at the same time,” Kaufman says. “Whether it’s Paul speaking in character or it’s the backdrop to a movie that’s not really there, that’s something we were going for. If something felt natural in a simple way, we left it. I’d never heard Paul’s voice framed like that—a string section, horns, guitars—we know none of that is visionary but it felt classic and kind of classy.”
The resulting songs are dark and gorgeous, expansive and sparse, like Cormac McCarthy prose stretched across a cowboy painting of a sunset. “Bad Feeling” chimes and slinks with a touch of Bryan Ferry panache as Barrick’s kick drum pushes the tune along and Kaufman’s Rhodes fills the space. “Evergreen” features Banks’s vocal doubling down on Kaufman’s gorgeous slide guitar melody, and “Patchouli” and “Summer Love” burrow and twinkle psychedelically. There are upstart rockers like “Red Western Sky” and “Knuckleduster” and jazz-beat drum showcases like “How Many Days” and “All Is Dead To Me,” but no matter the sonic direction Muzz go, they go there as if effortlessly and with maximum emotional, cosmic charge.
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