Courtesy of Esther Creative Group
Paper Route – “American Clouds” Download (Right click and select “Save Link As”)
“There’s heartbreak all over the E., Everday that goes by I just realize that more and more people’s relationships aren’t such a fairy tale and that that discontent and that heartache is universal.”
The above words are a quote from “8 Minutes” a self produced video that this Nashville quartet put together, featuring a medley of their songs, gorgeous visuals, and their narrated thoughts on music and art. The line so perfectly captures my own feelings about the band and their music that any attempt to put it in my own words would deaden the sentiment, ring somewhat hollow. So instead, I’ve let them say it themselves.
In fact, in a lot of ways Paper Route is a band that can tell its own story just as poignantly and movingly as any journalist. Band-founder Chad Howat’s musings on insomnia and its part in the formation of the band are as clever or as funny as anything I’ve ever written, or could hope to write for that matter. And their typical unsigned indie success story (group starts small, plays frequently locally, already gaining buzz before first full length, etc.) is one that almost writes itself these days. But to focus on that purely mechanical, and rather clichéd story ignores what we should really be talking about– their music.
And gorgeous music it is. The heartbreak that fills their self-titled EP is achingly beautiful, a lush mix of piano, synthesizer, soaring oohs and ahs, bright guitars, full strings, and catchy drum loops. There’s a touch of electronica, here, but only just a touch. The songs as a whole are far too cohesive to be a part of that genre, not a schizophrenic collection bloops, beeps, bass, and drum machine, but very organic, carefully crafted pieces.
In fact the track available here, American Clouds, material off their upcoming full length, features more electronica influences than most of their work to date, pushing them towards the field of synthesizer heavy dance-pop occupied by folks like hellogoodbye, or The Postal Service. Here fuzzy synthesizers, distorted vocals, and a looped melody open the song, but as it progresses we begin to heart those drop out, replaced by a guitar, a harmonic, far more organic sounds.
What we don’t hear sadly, is the members of Paper Route showing off their vocals. If their EP is anything to judge by then almost every member of the band has a voice that could make them lead vocalist for any other group. And if that wasn’t enough, they also brought on Nashville artist Kate York to supply her gorgeous soprano to the opening track, “Second Chances.”
The result is beautiful singing that draws attention to Paper Route’s extraordinary lyrics. Lines like “Second Chance’s” chilling “Apparently love runs on one-way courses / away from contentment” wrench at the heart when airily delivered by York during a poignant duet. And the hollow nihilism of “Let You Down’s” “I’m not afraid to give up and give in / we’re going to die anyway / what’s the point in the end,” paints the picture of a man caught in utter brokenness when they’re belted out in a desperate near scream by the vocalist.
In short, Paper Route is a breath of fresh air in an indie world where increasing, to steal the words of fellow Wheel writer and friend David Marek, “randomness/florescent ugliness is valued above songwriting.” These guys put their songs together with unnatural care, crafting something that is worth listening to over and over, year after year.
Note: Paper Route will be playing March 8th at the Masquerade. In case you haven’t noticed, I really like these guys, so I’d highly recommend checking out the show.
–Asst. Entertainment Editor Andrew Swerlick