Case in point: Jason Robert Quever always recorded and produced his own work at his home studio, Pan American Recording Studio. This is where his band Papercuts produced three solid releases since 2000. He got attention for his work on 2004's Mockingbird, 2007's Can't Go Back, and 2009's you Can Have What You Want.
But there is something decidedly different about his fourth album. That's because Quever wanted something different. Something bigger.
“I just knew that we wanted a big sound, like drums that really rang out a long time,” said Quever. I’d been playing more with a band, so I just thought about trying to get it as dynamic as possible, in a way that’s hard to do recording at home.”
He reached out to producer Thom Monahan (Beachwood Sparks), and recorded what would become Fading Parade at The Hangar in Sacramento. Some tracks were still recorded at home for posterity, of course. The result is Papercuts’ finest release to date. It features a virtual wall of sound that evokes a 60s cool Phil Spector and a touch of nostalgia.
Do What You Will is one of several standouts from the album. What is unique about all of the tracks is that Papercuts weaves in Moogs, Mellotron, strings, and even the autoharp. The recording methods vary from digital and analog.
And all of it, from beginning to end, is unexpected, unconventional, and unlike anything else. Enough so that one of our reviewers told me singer Mary Lou Lord said she wanted to know more about Papercuts.
Papercuts uncovers haunting melodies within a bigger production.
Although he is comfortable recording on his own, Quever admits that working with Monahan was a relief because it enabled him to focus more in his songwriting. This is a good thing. Fading Parade has Quever cranking out songs that offer up a more grown up writing style, and this puts Papercuts over the top.
To round out the band, Quever tapped musicians he knows. They have been playing as Papercuts' live band for the past two years, even if Papercuts is primarily Quever. His new bandmates include David Enos (keyboard and autoharp), Graham Hill (drums), and Frankie Koeller (bass). All of them lend strong chops to the proceedings.
If you want to know what to watch for, listen to the piano heavy Winter Daze and the brooding I’ll See You Later, I Guess. Of course, the jangly Do You Really Wanna Know features some cool Mellotron and Moog; and you can hear Enos on the autoharp in Do What You Will, which adds an unexpected element that works.
Fading Parade By Papercuts Whips In With A 6.5 On the Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
All of the songs are tied together by their finely layered melodies, sometimes whispered and sometimes pained or world weary. The band's new label, Sub Pop, describes it as dream pop. I hear it more as adventurous, wistful, sophisticated, and nostalgic.
The band just played a show in their home base of San Francisco and has plans to head out on the road in the near future. Something tells me they won't be touring alone, but they will be touring and we're anxious to see some dates.
Fading Parade by Papercuts is on iTunes. You can also find Fading Parade on Amazon or look for the CD or vinyl edition at Barnes & Noble.