Friday, June 8, 2007

every year you took in stride, to be carried away by city trucks.

Artist: Paper Route
Album: Paper Route EP
Label: Drama Club Records
Release Date: 8.29.06

Every once in awhile, you hear a band who sounds like they're trying to transport you to an alternate level or universe through their songs. Paper Route is kind of like that.

Their songs are of the slow, meandering variety, with gentle vocals and just the lightest electronic details. Most electronica bands I've heard tend to be very weak on slow tracks, but that is exactly where Paper Route excels. They know exactly where to add keys, when to bring in backup vocals, and how to match melody with machine.

When discussing his band, singer Chad Howat talks about how he wrote these tunes during bouts of insomnia. It's clearly no wonder that all his songs have such a dreamlike feel.

"Second Chances," the EP's first track, begins with a piano intro and melts gracefully into the vocal harmonization of Howat and his bandmates, JT Daly and Andy Smith. However, when Daly and Smith fade away, Howat can effortlessly hold the floor on his own. Kate York provides further backup vocals that push this song to beautiful atmospheric heights, which more than makes up for the slightly jarring drum track.

The first song flows into the next, "Tearing The House Down." This song has the faintest of country twang under the electronic layers, and the lyrics cover much darker territory than the opening track.

There's a place that burns for something else / I'll tear this house apart / It's not that hard / I'll keep on looking in / Look at me / a knock on the door / I'll always come running / Look at you / you call this a home / I'd rather be dying

"Only Words" mixes the piano of the first track and the country of the second with the addition of a harmonica. The chorale-like background vocals add an angelic touch to the song. "City Trucks" is much more guitar based than the other songs on the EP, and that actually works out very well. This song might even get you nodding your head or tapping your toes to the beat.

The next song, "Cityscape," is seemingly trying to make up for the lack of electronics in "City Trucks" with an extended programmed intro and long instrumental breaks between verses. While the mood the song creates is nice, I think I actually prefer the former song. However, "Cityscape" leads nicely into the EP's closer, "Let You Down." The longest track on the album, it really blends beats and guitars nicely, with Howat pushing to the top of his vocal range.

Paper Route's EP is filled with elegant programming and thoughtful lyrics. The music is soothing, but won't put you directly to sleep. Rather, everything plays out with kind of a slow burn, gently creating more and more sweeping songs. If these songs really were borne out of insomnia, I sort of hope that Howat continues to have a few more restless nights.

01. Second Chances
02. Tearing The House Down *
03. Only Words
04. City Trucks *
05. Cityscape
06. Let You Down *

* - standout track

For fans of: The Postal Service, Sleeping At Last, Lórien.

myspace | purevolume

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