CD Roundup — Papercuts and Rural Alberta Advantage

Papercuts bores you to tears while Rural Alberta Advantage offer yet another polished serving of indie-folk.

Raghav Mehta

Artist: Papercuts

Album: âÄúFading ParadeâÄù

Label: Sub Pop

 

ItâÄôs silly to get terribly upset over a Papercuts album. Helmed by Bay Area wonderboy Jason Quever, Papercuts could easily be cast aside as late-night background music to the distracted listener. ItâÄôs airy, inoffensive and horribly unassuming. But it would be off base to misinterpret QueverâÄôs low-key pop diddies as a sign of vapidity. While itâÄôs an art form that might be easy to replicate superficially, few groups can steer away from the âÄújust another indie bandâÄù cliché.

PapercutâÄôs newest album, âÄúFading Parade,âÄù picks up where the last one left off but doesnâÄôt succeed in keeping one enraptured. In his pursuit for lusher soundscapes, Quever makes an admirable attempt to gravitate away from his soothing bedroom creations but forgets to inject some life into his songs in the process. ThereâÄôs a certain energy missing âÄî a desired liveliness that made his previous efforts so endearing.

The album opens with two back-to-back crowd pleasers before descending into the mundane. While the sunny bounce of the albumâÄôs opener, âÄúDo What You Will,âÄù might prove that Quever still has a knack for melody, the rest drags on at an excruciatingly sluggish speed. ItâÄôs a hazy 40 minutes of wispy vocals and coffee-shop acoustics that amount to something that sounds more like a subpar Grizzly Bear record than a step up from previous efforts.

 

1.5/4 stars

 

Artist: Rural AlbertaAdvantage

Album: âÄúDepartingâÄù

Label: Saddle Creek Records

 

Rural Alberta AdvantageâÄôs debut, âÄúHometowns,âÄù was a textbook breakup album.

And apparently all that recorded, hard-to-stomach heartbreak and shameless melancholy didnâÄôt do enough to nurse singer-songwriter Nils EdenloffâÄôs wounds.

After signing with OmahaâÄôs Saddle Creek in 2008, the Alberta-bred songwriter garnered some modest acclaim for his quirky vignettes of hometown woe. On the follow-up, âÄúDeparting,âÄù the group visits familiar themes: death, lost love and the painstaking process of moving on and starting over.

The album sounds like less of a catharsis and more like a much needed moment for reflection. In tracks like âÄúBreakupâÄù and âÄúColdest Days,âÄù Edenloff recounts his failed romance but does it with sense of detachment and acceptance in his voice.

Lyrically, Rural Alberta Advantage might wallow in simplicity, but thereâÄôs nothing quiet or cookie-cutter about the music. ThereâÄôs an obnoxious overflow of indie-folk nowadays, but itâÄôs Paul BanwattâÄòs vigorous drumming that sets Rural Alberta Advantage apart from the rest of the flock. Oftentimes Banwatt becomes the driving force behind a majority of the tracks, moving them along at a blistering pace alongside EdenloffâÄôs wry, nasally yelp.

Rural Alberta Advantage didnâÄôt reinvent the wheel or make any big strides on âÄúDeparting.âÄù Instead we get a tamer, fine-tuned extension of their debut. And listeners shouldnâÄôt have any real issues with that.

 

2.5/4 stars