Show Preview: Papercuts @ Emos (4/5)

Date Tuesday, April 5th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $10 @ the Door

If you’ve been following our site, or just the Internet in general, the odds are you’re well aware of Jason Quever and Papercuts.  His control over melodies, as well as his lush arrangements in the studio, have made me a huge fan of everything he does.  He’ll be in town at Emos on Tuesday, supporting the recent release of Fading Parade, and it’s a magnificent album, as you can read HERE. Jason’s a busy fellow, so he doesn’t tour too often, which makes this a must see show, aside from the fact it’s going to be ridiculous anyways.  Also, you can catch another up-and-comer, Banjo or Freakout, who’s been making waves over the last year or so.  Sounds like a pretty decent way to kick off this most excellent April music line-up in Austin.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/01-Do-You-Really-Wanna-Know.mp3]

Download: Papercuts – Do You Really Wanna Know [MP3]


New Music from The Papercuts

I’ve been waiting for several weeks to get a little sample of new work from The Papercuts, after Sub Pop announced they would be bringing Jason Quever on board for his new album.  Thankfully, Stereogum got it out before I went crazy, so we’ve got it here for you.  The record, Fading Parade, comes out on March 1st, with this single hitting stores on February 1st.  Jason’s music has really blossomed since his first album, adding more textures, blending his melodious voice, and each time, topping his previous output.  His progression continues to lead me down a path of great enjoyment, so give this tune a try.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Papercuts_-_Do_What_You_Will.mp3]

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

Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s unfortunate that people have given Texan Jana Hunter the freak-folk tag, as clearly she’s done a lot to move beyond her early days, clearly trying to establish her own sound.  We find her now leading the Baltimore group Lower Dens, and if you can look beyond her darkened voice, you’ll find that there are no remnants of folk on Twin Hand Movement.

“Blue and Silver” immediately begins to indicate that the sounds within the group’s album will fill up quickly with dense discord, sprawling in which ever direction Hunter leads the band.  Metronome-like drumming keeps the pace steady, allowing for the guitars to seek out their own direction, cutting back and forth across the landscape of the song, all the while Hunter moves in and out to fill empty space with her voice.  Arriving at “Tea Lights” you see some similarities with label-mates The Papercuts, especially in the way the pop element is darkened, leaving just enough room for melody to spring up.  At times, Hunter’s lyrics aren’t necessarily decipherable, yet their appeal exists in the ability for them to alter the mood of the song.  One listen to this track and you’ll gladly take a journey with Lower Dens.

While one might still complain about Hunter’s vocals, there are some performances on Twin Hand Movement that really demonstrate her range as a singer.  “I Get Nervous” is quite the subtle number, barely moving along without the presence of high-hat and snare, but in the middle of the song Hunter takes complete control of the track.  Something in the way she delivers in such an understated manner is extremely appealing, and she uses the song as a showcase for herself.  You’ll find the same scenario on “Hospice Gates,” though the song does have the benefit of a bit more pacing in comparison.  Ringing guitars provide the true backdrop to this track, leaving room for Hunter to give her best vocal performance, mostly based on the fact that the clarity is probably the strongest of all album tracks, excluding the slow-burner “Truss Me.”

Lower Dens is also willing to throw you some surprises in the mixture, utilizing the brooding track “Plastic and Powder” to give the listener a bit of a haunt if you will.  There’s is an eerie quality here, perhaps in the way guitars seemingly bounce quietly in the background, or in Hunter’s dark croon as the song trickles passed. “Rosie” also has a far away feel to it, almost as if it’s meant to be a soundscape song, that is until you hit the 1:15(ish) mark.  Steady drumming accompanied by the typical ringing guitars gives listeners the chance to hear a focused group in the midst of possibly their best work to date.

Twin Hand Movement lives up to the promise of lead single “Tea Lights.”  Hunter’s vocals keep a sense of brooding throughout, but the guitar work as it pokes and prods in the listener’s brain keeps the you wrapped up in the wall of sound Lower Dens has created.  If you’re in search of a dark-tinted album with ringing guitars that will echo in your bedroom, then I suggest you get on it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/lowerdenstealights.mp3]

Download: Lower Dens – Tea Lights [MP3]

Beach House – Teen Dream

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t quite gotten on the Beach House bandwagon. In the past, their dreamy bedroom pop has just seemed far too dull for me to ever fully absorb; I’ll admit that’s a fault of my own and not the music.  Yet listening to Teen Dream, something else unfolds.  There isn’t some grand gesture that comes out of nowhere; it’s just that the logical progression of the group has finally caught up with my own personal tastes.

From the opening moments that the guitar comes into play on “Zebra” I found myself captivated immediately.  Gentle “ahhhs” in the background create a perfect introduction to the song, allowing for the vocals to carry the song the rest of the way.  Sure, it’s not the most moving song in the world, but it holds the listener with an emotional appeal, one that is only heightened by the percussion that comes in near the end of the song.

When you come upon “Norway,” it’s obvious why this would come out as the single for the record.  Electronic maneuvers bring life to the album, although it’s odd that those little flourishes seem somewhat out of tune (anyone else?).  The “ay ay aay” of the chorus is playful in the manner that it strings out the mono-syllabic moments into perfect resonant melodies.  This song is backed up by “Walk in the Park,” which seems a lot like a Papercuts track.  Programmed percussion atop those echo-y vocals builds the perfect cascading pop moment, which shows that the band, though often stuck in one place, can evoke quite a bit of emotion.

“Better Times” wears the influence, seemingly, of Chairlift, using electronic structures to build the backbone of the song wile waiting for the rest of the song’s sound to come together.  Vocals definitely carry this song, and you can tell that the focus on achieving the perfect tonality definitely aids the tune as a whole.  It’s at this point where you start to see the past and the present finally start gel, bringing the best moments out of the duo, especially when the quickened vocal delivery starts in with about two minutes remaining.

Coming into the last song, it honestly is hard to find a throwaway track.  All the songs on the album work cohesively, and finally the music seems to have shown some movement overall. “Take Care” captures all the little moments from the album, throwing them together in Teen Dream‘s final chapter.  Yet, there are some moments here that illustrate the one detractor I still have in listening to Beach House.  Near the three minute mark the percussion could easily pick up, or let loose, yet the band restrains itself.  In doing so, they lose the propensity for sending the listeners off on an ultimate high note of euphoric musical waves, instead leaving them to rest precisely where the album began.

In conclusion, Teen Dream is a really good record, one that all Beach House fans will surely fall in love with after purchase.  For  those like myself, who largely ignored the band(though I’ve seen them three times), this might be the record that forces you to go back and look a little closer at the group’s catalog.  Personally, I still find that they don’t take enough musical risks, choosing to hold back when I’d like to see them let go a little bit, but that’s just my preference.  For the rest of you, you’ll find that this record is more than just one to go to sleep with at night; it’s an album to be played at all times, which is really all you can ask for from Beach House. Move over folks, I’m ready to jump on the wagon now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Beach-House-Norway.mp3]

Download: Beach House – Norway [MP3]

Papercuts – You Can Have What You Want

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Rating: ★★★★½

This appears to be the decade where people actively seek out the atmosphere of a quiet bedroom recording, as bands like Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes burst forth with warmth and comfort, the kind you would find beneath your Grandma’s quilt in your room. Unfortunately, Jason Quever and his band, Papercuts, have often been overlooked in the discussion, though few will feel that way when this record hits the streets.

You Can Have What You Want is the third proper full-length from Quever, and listeners will find that this is his most complete collection of songs to date.  The songs are the most fluid he has composed, and they seem to courageously go from one shining moment into the next. Melodies rise just as you thought they’d fallen away, and it all feels as if a master architect assembled the songs piece by piece; everything on this record feels absolutely right.

Jason’s vocals sound amazing this time around, albeit a bit underdone at points. Some will find fault with this approach, as you must surely dig deep into your listening experience in order to grasp the lyrics, but most will find this aesthetic quite appealing whilst searching for their favorite tune as they rearrange their closet by color.  Take “The Machine Will Tell Us So,” a song that meanders carefully through seas of organ and cymbal work, almost so quiet you can’t help but let wonder if the music is only in your head; then the chorus bursts in full of calming melodies, taking the song in an entirely different direction, though only for a moment.

Of course, Papercuts aren’t afraid to pick up the pace, at least musically.  “Dead Love” and “Future Primitive” are both set back to back, which may be due to the fact that each of these songs call for a bit of toe-tapping, though one must only do so in place, as the vocals are not begging you to move about. “Future Primitive” is the first single from the album, and features a lot of the elements of the rhythm section of Jeremy Jay, only with quieter lyrics, if you can imagine that. Sure, it’s a standout track, but almost every track here shines in its own manner.

The title track to the album, “You Can Have What You Want,” is just yet another example of how beautifully Jason shapes his songs; he is able to fill up empty space with bits and pieces of vocals and instrumentation, all pushing the song to the fullest potential.  Really, this is all one needs to ask of his or her favorite musician: can you get the most out of your song? The answer to that question, and in regards to this whole album, is a resounding yes! If you want something to listen to in your bedroom, this album may be the best one for your ear.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/papercuts-you-can-have-what-you-want.mp3]

Download: Papercuts – You Can Have What You Want [MP3]

New Tunes from The Papercuts

jasonJason Quever has quietly been making waves under the moniker of The Papercuts. This track comes straight off their upcoming album, You Can Have What You Want, set to come out on Gnomonsong Records on April 14th.  Just another song from one of our most-anticipated albums in 2009. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/07-future-primitive-1.mp3]

Download: The Papercuts – Future Primitive [MP3]