Band of the Day

2012.01.05

Papercuts

Lush indie with the psych sheen of 1960s bands like the Velvet Underground
I don't know, baby, if I can, provide like he do. But I do know one thing's for sure, I'll be round while you wait, while he's shooting off his mouth.
lyrics from Unavailable

Papercuts are an indie pop band based in San Francisco, CA. The project of guitarist and songwriter Jason Quever, Papercuts have been active since the early 2000s. Originally raised in a commune in Arcata, California Quever later moved to San Francisco. He's played with a rotating cast of collaborators throughout Papercuts existence, first releasing Mockingbird in 2004 on Antennae Farm Records. Papercuts music tends to be mellow, and characterized by Quever's strong melodic sense. Though grounded in 21st century indie rock sounds, Papercuts draw strongly from 60s psychedelic bands, particularly the Velvet Underground. Papercuts released their sophomore album, 2007's Can't go Back on Gnomonsong records, a label run by San Francisco music scene luminaries Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Devendra Banhart. The album received critical acclaim, as did 2009's Can Have What You Want. Papercuts moved labels again for their next album, 2011's Fading Parade released by Seattle label Sub Pop.

While brilliantly recreating yourself with every new album like the Beatles or Radiohead may be the best way to get into the rock and roll history books, there's something to be said for finding your sound, and persistently refining it over the years. San Francisco, CA's Papercuts haven't made any bold left turns in their career, but they have crafted four wonderful indie pop albums. Despite their sunny home, Papercuts seem to be stuck in Autumn. With their lush, mellow style and Quaver's hushed vocals, they sound primed and ready to be included in the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson flick. Papercuts are a notably consistent band, without a single misstep in their career, but give special attention to 2007's Can't Go Back and their 2011 release Fading Parade. Can't Go Back showcases Quaver's melodic mastery, with memorable vocal lines popping up on songs like “Dear Employee” and the gorgeous harmonies of “Unavailable.” The album is packed with excellent downtempo ballads in this vein. Fading Parade, the band's first album for Seattle label Sub Pop, doesn't stray too far from their road map of stately, sedate orchestral pop. “Do You Really Wanna Know” has a vintage feel to it, propelled by Velvet Underground-style twinkling electric guitar and a sublime bridge that doubles up pounded piano chords with guitar. The song has a bit of far-away reverb sheen to it, but unlike the countless indie bands these days that smother their vocals and instruments with reverb, it doesn't make Papercuts sound hazy, it makes them sound grand and elegant. It's as if their music should ideally be listened to in a victorian mansion with lots of velvet and paisley, rain pounding against the bay windows. “Chills” soaks in a wash of swirling instrumentation: harpsichord, guitar, organ. Quaver wanders into a mesmerizing psychedelic chorus, sounding like a more bookish version of the Shins. While on the surface their orchestral, psychedelic leaning indie pop isn't breaking new ground, they've managed to cultivate a unique sound. It feels fresh and vintage at the same time, melancholy and sweet.