Being a curmudgeon can be goddamn delightful. It feels like a right earned with age, and let’s face it, the seemingly-unearned confidence of your average magical millennial—while probably as apocryphal as Gen X’s purported cynicism—is quantifiably annoying when you’re staring down the barrel of your own irrelevance.
Even more annoying, the youth of today didn’t have to run a gauntlet of judgmental record store clerks to acquire their musical knowledge. A heady combo of postmodernism and the internet laid bare all of musical history for our younger brothers and sisters, but you know what? The kids are alright, and I have proof: Shamir Bailey.
In this big, boundless, beautiful world of instantly-downloadable jams, 19-year-old Shamir can happily (and reasonably) namecheck Nina Simone, The Slits, and Beck in the same interview, all the while sounding like Frankie Knuckles taught Jimmy Scott how to use a Groovebox in heaven. Shamir’s androgynous voice places him in a lineage that includes Scott, Sylvester, and Jimmy Somerville, but he brings his own brand of musical eclecticism and, in case I failed to mention it, youthfulness to the party.
The video for his new single, “On the Regular,” is an unaffected charm offensive that brings plenty of cheek and enough cowbell to satisfy Christopher Walken. Plus, the song contains this year’s best playground slam at the 2-minute mark: “Don’t try me, I’m not a free sample. Step to me, and you will be handled.”
If this “Candy Girl”-esque track isn’t your cup of tea, check out Shamir’s EP Northtown. Released earlier this year on the Godmode label, the album will be re-released on numbered vinyl this November 3rd. Equal parts house, disco and, yes, country, the album is a pitch-perfect showcase for Shamir’s countertenor, and even the hardest anti-pop, indie rocker couldn’t help but be won over by Shamir’s cover of Lindi Ortega’s “Lived and Died Alone.”
No matter what you think of this delightful package of now, he’s just signed to XL—as in FKA twigs, Adele, Jack White XL. So, “hi-hi, howdy-howdy, hi-hi,” you’ve only just begun to hear from Shamir.