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The Papercuts 

Rejoicing Songs (Cassingle USA)

Wednesday, Dec 13 2000
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At a time when many indie rock acts are dressing up and/or faithfully re-creating the look and sound of bygone eras, the Papercuts forge onward. Recorded mostly at home on eight-track, the Berkeley group's debut album gleefully dismantles familiar pop hooks and reassembles them into an appealing patchwork collage that defies easy categorization.

Jason Quever, who essentially is the Papercuts, seems willing to hijack anything for the joy of the song. For the opener, "Complicating Things," he swipes a '60s folk rock riff and transforms it into a white-boy soul groove, his raspy tenor grasping at falsetto notes as the clanging guitar builds to a climax. "Gravity" reworks the down-home ambience of a late-period Beatles tune, while "Three Hundred Sixty Degrees" uses cheap Casio keyboards to approximate KMEL Jams. Fortunately, Quever's style of musical mixology comes across as earnest and sincere, without Beck-like cleverness. The occasionally funky beats never seem forced, and even the awkward turntable scratching on "Disassertivenesses" can't spoil the good mood.

All is not giddy in Quever's world, however: Some of the songs have the subtle sting of the band's name. The tune "How D' You Say?" asks, "Am I really good enough to be inside your camera?" while the folky number "Hey Cass" conjures late-night gloom with the simple, sad refrain, "Don't bother to look for me/ I can't be found." The penultimate song, "Note to Katherine," is a melancholy love letter set to minor chords and weepy violin flurries.

On Rejoicing Songs, Quever skillfully tackles AM radio pop, murky ballads, dreamy instrumentals, and even contemporary R&B. That's a lot of ground to cover, especially in this era of microgenrefied music. But Quever doesn't want to sound like the Beach Boys or Gram Parsons or the latest influence of the month; instead, he's content to offer unclassifiable tunes that hurt so good.

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Silas Paine

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