Thus Far….Albums of 2014.5

docIt’s still rather early in the year to start talking about best records of the year and what not, but as we’re midway through 2014, every one is doing it…so why not join in the fun.  But, with this in mind, remember that these lists are arbitrary, and if anything, pretty meaningless in the long run; you never know if your thoughts will change in six months…and really, they’re just like, our opinions man.  We’ll have two sections…one for national albums and another section of Austin albums released up to this point in 2014.   Read more

Another Track from The Skygreen Leopards

skygreenListening to the newest single from The Skygreen Leopards, it’s no surprise that the album had some studio work applied by Jason Quever of Papercuts fame.  It’s got that rich feeling you get with most of the music Jason’s worked on, including his own, which provides this whispering warmth that allows the listener to attach themselves to the songs internal melody.  This song has a nice steady pace, worked around the connection between the guitar lines and the piano pieces.  You’ll be able to check more from the group when they release Family Crimes on July 8th via Woodsist.

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The Welcome Return of Papercuts

papercutsJason Quever is one of those artists that I personally feel needs to write more; it’s not because I don’t appreciate what he’s done, but rather that I adore it so much that I swoon every time I hear of new music he’s putting out as Papercuts.  It’s been just over three years since we’ve heard from Jason, but we can forgive that as I know he’s had his hand in producing several great albums.  Be it the way he’s written his lyrics on albums like Fading Parade or Can’t Go Back (my favorite), or the construction of the songs themselves, there’s nothing to ignore. His new record is titled Life Among the Savages; it will have a release date of May 6th via Easy Sound.  I mean, just listen to this song.

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New Tune from Papercuts

Unless you’re living underneath a rock, you realize that San Francisco is probably one of the biggest scenes in the indie rock community.  Luckily for all of us outside the city, we can get our hands on the In a Cloud II compilation, featuring new unreleased tracks from a lot of great bands; the comp comes to us via Secret Seven Records on July 17th.  My personal favorite track from the comp is the one featured below by Papercuts, one of my favorite bands from San Francisco–check that, period. It’s got that chilled out vibe Jason’s known for, with a warm trickling melody that evolves slowly. There’s tons of great tracks on this collection, so be sure to Pre-Order it now.




New Music from Big Troubles

This band is one of those that I’ve really been jamming to lately, going back to their last record from 2010, and looking forward to the new one they’ll be releasing.  Romantic Comedy, the new record from Big Troubles, will be released by Slumberland on September 27th, and it’s probably going to be a pretty big deal around the ATH offices.  This new track has a bit of that softness that’s often associated with their label, but I hear Jason Quever of Papercuts in the vocals–not a bad thing in my book, by the way.  Should be another good outing from the group.


Download: Big Troubles – Sad Girls [MP3]

More New Music from Gold Leaves

Awhile back we brought you an early listen to “The Ornament,” the first single from the upcoming album, The  Ornament, by Gold Leaves.  It’s really easy to see comparisons to other folk acts such as Fleet Foxes, but one thing I enjoy that is a bit different is the lush arrangements behind the sound on each track.  We’ve got another one today, and you’ll hear hints of the kind of orchestration you usually find on the quiet tracks of Papercuts records. Yeah, those are great qualities to have, so you won’t hear any complaints coming from my end right now.  Be sure to pick up the record on August 16th via Hardly Art.


Download: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind [MP3]

ATH Interviews: Papercuts

ATH: You’re four albums into your career, which is a great deal further than a lot of bands get to go nowadays.  Is there a special formula that keeps you motivated for writing, or are you luck insofar as you’re the predominant musician/writer?

Jason: Well I just try to make the focus on enjoying the process of writing and recording albums, so my level of motivation and enjoyment stays in my own control. If I focused on the ups and downs of my “career” or what I thought of the business side of things, it would probably be a bit harder to stay productive. I just try to focus on the process and enjoy it, if it stopped being fun I’d probably stop, even if the material aspect was tempting… Also I’ve never made hype friendly music, maybe that’s enabled me to keep rolling without feeling like my time has come and passed…

ATH: Listening to your catalogue, one of my favorite things has to be your voice, aside from the overall awesomeness of course. It seems have this sort of raspy/whispery (is that a word) resonation (I mean this in a good way) to it? When you first began recording yourself at home, was this just the general nature of your voice, or were you modeling the tones after anyone in particular? Any effects used on it in the studio?

Jason: Thanks, I don’t really attempt to make it do much except sound as good as I possibly can with the voice I have and the material i come up with. I, like most people, dislike the sound of my own voice, so I just like to use reverb or echo to make it transform into something else a little. That way I can try to hear it as something other than my own voice, like another instrument.

ATH: You record a great number of LPs for other bands. Does the recording process differ greatly when your working with other people’s work as opposed to your own? If so, how?

Jason: Well I certainly am in totally different roles in the two situations, especially for this new record. When recording other bands I tend to try and be a positive figure in the room, someone looking after the band to try and facilitate a good atmosphere and interesting sounds, but with an ear to technical details. Getting Thom Monahan to co produce enabled me to become more of a performer than ever before, focusing on playing instruments, singing, writing and arranging, etc… I loved being able to walk away from being a technical person for my own record, and try to look at the big picture…

ATH: Similar question here, sort of….it’s odd, but despite how much I’ve listened to your records, I don’t know a whole lot about you as a person, other than your recording/songwirting prowess. Tell us…what are some things we don’t know about you: Favorite meal, first musical memory, thing you can’t leave at home when you head out on tour?

Jason: Favorite meal, well this may look like pandering but I had an amazing hamburger when I was at sxsw, it was a diner near waterloo records, I forget the name of the place. Oh my god, we are going back when we’re in austin again. My first musical memory is the Beatles, I became obsessed really early with “Revolution”, the loud one… I can’t leave home without my ipod now (thanks Dana!), I need to hear the Vashti Buynan rarities record every few days, it puts me in a peaceful place…

ATH: I’ll gladly admit that I’ve listened to your records year round, but they seem to have this odd seasonal quality to me that makes them perfect for either winter weather, or those cool autumn nights before the winter has completely taken over (which it never does in Austin). With this in mind, do you ever think about such a thing as seasonal listening when you’re writing a new record? Or are there any other odd things you reflect upon, such as where the song is best listened to, i.e. a small venue, bedroom headphones, etc.?

Jason: I listen to my demos when I go for long walks in my hilly San Francisco neighborhood. I usually decide if a song is good or not listening to headphones walking around so I guess that’s probably what I think of when I think of people listening to the record. I love spring and summer the most and think of it as that kind of record, though maybe other people think of it as a darker thing than I do, which is totally fine!

ATH: Obviously, you should be proud of your work, and especially with the Fading Parade being so recent, this might be sort of a ridiculous question, but, is there one particular record of the four major Papercuts albums that your more proud of than any other, if perhaps you were going through a difficult time, or one where you can acknowledge you made huge leaps and bounds as a songwriter?

Jason: Well I feel most happy with fading Parade, probably because I was in a really good place writing it, and recording it I had the help of Thom as well as Frankie Koeller and Graham Hill, who played on the record and helped me arrange some things.  The album You Can Have What You Want was written at a very sad and dark time in my life so in one way I’m glad I had the record to help me work some heavy things out, in another way it’s hard for me to think about what a bad time it was when I wrote it. So I think about records in terms of how things were at the time more than a rating system, you know?

ATH: Having toured a fair amount myself, is there any one thing you dread about being on the road with your band? Personally, those long stretches from say Arizona to Texas always sucked the life out of me. What do you guys do in the van to entertain one another?

Jason: Being the leader of a band, I dread those bummer drives and uninspiring shows and gross back stages mainly because I dread the others in the band being depressed on the road. I feel too responsible for everyone having a good time, which is impossible to do all the time when you are on tour for a month…. I have ups and downs myself too, sometimes I wonder if I can face people on stage and pretend I like myself, but somehow once we are actually playing, I usually remember why I’m there in the first place and enjoy it….

ATH: Seeing as its difficult to really carve out a niche for one’s self nowadays with the massive quantity of bands on the Internet, is there any alternative life that you could see yourself living should this ever prove to be insufficient, for whatever reason?

Jason: I really can’t imagine doing anything else and being slightly happy, it’s the thing I love doing so I work pretty hard to keep being able to do it! If I couldn’t make records I’d probably become a beach bum, move to san diego and play guitar on the pier through a pignose amp pinned to my fanny pack while on roller skates….

Photo credit goes to Robert Loerzel @ Under Ground Bee.

Papercuts – Fading Parade

Rating: ★★★★½

Jason Quever always seems busy, whether producing other people’s work, or writing his own tunes.  Regardless, it seems that everything he touches somehow finds its ways to my ears, eventually leading to massive amounts of pleasure.  On Fading Parade, his fourth record as Papercuts, that’s precisely what you’re going to get, endless spends of moving music that will never tire.

Something about the guitar line opening “Do You Really Want to Know” hinted at perhaps a more light-hearted Quever to open up this album, but as soon as those densely coated vocals entered the scene, I knew deep down that this was already going to be an exceptional listening experience.  The climbing guitar in the background, those precision drumming moments, all lead you towards blissful listening.  “Do What You Will” brings in the same sentiment, especially as Jason’s voice soars during the chorus, though that breathy quality he has for the duration of the song really gets to me.  Going two for two isn’t a bad way to begin Fading Parade.

It’s when you hit the third track, “I’ll See You Later I Guess” that the newest Papercuts release really began to sink in, emotionally seeking.  This tracks a slow-burner, similar to the work of a band like The New Year, yet as always, the production coats it in that heavy bit of fog, giving it a quality that seems to speak to you from the beyond.  Yet this isn’t the only track you’ll find on here that’s going to really move you, if you’re into a headphones listening experience.  “The Messenger” is perhaps one of the best songs Quever has written to date.  Slowly the song creeps forward, suddenly offering up a bit of unsteady vocals, before returning to the quiet mood.  Beware, these songs are begging you to listen again and again.

Tracks such as the aforementioned “The Messenger” offer a slight alteration in the overall sound of your everyday Papercuts recording.  Take for instance, “Winter Daze,” which gently tip-toes along with down-trodden piano.  Sure, that effortlessly warm pop element you’ve found is definitely a staple in Quever’s repertoire, but there’s new territory being explored, structurally especially.  In the past Jason’s possibly rushed forth with the unfolding of melodies in his tracks, but instead he barely lets the melody escape on this number, which makes it all the more powerful.  It’s the same sort of technique you find on album closer “Charades,” another track that gradually relinquishes its hold on melody and ecstasy.

Long have I been a fan of Jason Quever, and the more work he produces, the more I’m amazed at his gifts as a songwriter. Fading Parade shows him in complete control of every aspect he’s worked on since his debut, Mockingbird.  It’s not like he’s really put out a single bad record, but something about the latest bit from Papercuts shows him creating art above and beyond what I would expect.  This is not a dialed-in record; this is a record of great craftsmanship, and one you should all go enjoy now.


Download: The Papercuts – Do What You Will [MP3]

New Track from Helvetia

When I first got the email with this new track from Helvetia, I was immediately drawn to the band’s participation with Papercuts, one of my favorite acts.  Now, while I can definitely see some similarities in regards to how songs slowly build before reaching their climax, this group doesn’t seem to have the same somber tones, instead offering up a bit of light through that Pacific Northwest rainy weather.  The group will be releasing their new record, On the Lam, on April 12th via The Static Cult Label. Going off this single, it’s going to be a trickling affair full of harmonies meant to undermine your soul, forcing in a bit of pleasure and thoughtfulness.


Download: Helvetia – On The Lam [MP3]

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