The songs were full of effortless-sounding buildup, with frantic guitar notes sprinkled throughout and Murray’s cool and breezy vocals floating on top. She sang seemingly without any effort at all, with her eyes closed or downcast, and made minimal movements of swaying as if in a trance. She also took over on keys for the last song that was slowly built up until the room was drowning in distortion. Much of the buildup was due to the lead guitarist, who was mostly hunched over his guitar and pedal board rapidly strumming and creating effects. The result was a seamless re-creation of their recorded material, but with the added enhancement of feeling the reverberations and energy in the room. This was a late show for the dreamers and the shoegazers, and Still Corners set the mood flawlessly.
Coincidentally, Kurt Vile, who I last wrote about, was played during the set break, starting on the second song from the new album, “Jesus Fever,” and playing through until Papercuts went on a couple songs later.
This was my first time seeing Papercuts live, so I wasn’t sure how the heavily layered recordings would translate in a live setting. Being that the band is basically the solo compositions of Jason Quever, with help from friends for live shows, I didn’t know what to expect as far as how multi-instrumental Quever would get with the songs on stage. The set-up was looking pretty involved, but it turns out every instrument had a musician to handle it. They all quietly and unassumingly came out on stage, except the bass player who looked like he meant business (and who was indeed wearing a “stripey shirt”).
Their set surprised me a little, as I was expecting more layered haze, but some of the songs actually sounded like early Spoon, when their songs were more lo-fi, rough and rocky. Quever was still heavy on the soft vocals, and there were still many layers to discern. Again, minimal to none banter in between songs, but this was music to close your eyes and drift away to; no talking really required. Halfway through the set I started to notice people singing the lyrics. Papercuts seem like such a low-key band that I didn’t think they had much following – at least on the east coast, anyway. Turns out, they were most definitely what the line at the door was for. There was a guy behind craning his head to try to read the set list. “Is ‘A Fairy Tale’ on there?” he asked the person next to me. I believe he was pleased with the encore song choices, as it seemed the vast majority of the crowd at Mercury Lounge that night soaked it all up till the end.
Papercuts have a new album, Fading Parade, that was released March 1st on Sub Pop. According Sub Pop’s description, this album is “dream pop of the highest order.” They also suggest to “Imagine Belle & Sebastian teaming up with Slowdive and recording with Phil Spector back when he was killing it in the studio…” They sure have a way with words for describing this effort, as does Papercuts have the substance to actually back it all up.
Still Corners doesn’t appear to have any more tour dates on their calendar, but much of their music can be streamed and purchased on their Bandcamp page. Papercuts has a handful of tour dates left, including playing the Knitting Factory on March 29 before heading down to Austin, TX and ending in San Francisco, CA. and if you haven’t gotten ahold of the new album yet, you can here.