The Paperhead have been Nashville’s best-kept secret for years now. The trio of Ryan Jennings, Peter Stringer-Hye & Walker Mimms have crafted three albums of psych-pop perfection, starting with their 2010 album “Focus In On... The Looking Glass” & last leaving us with 2014’s “Africa Avenue”. They return in fine form with their fourth magnum opus, entitled “Chew”.
Having been lifelong fans of psychedelia & prog rock, the band found themselves at the forefront of the neo-psych revival, but unlike many of their contemporaries, the band has deftly avoided comparisons to most modern- day psych acts. They’ve found a way to straddle four decades of music, cherry-picking elements from a crop ripe for picking. In most band’s hands, the freedom & convenience of music these days could be a detriment, but rather than committing the cardinal sin of many modern acts by drenching everything in reverb, “Chew” revels in clarity & melody. The listener finds themselves disoriented by the jarring juxtaposition of styles, rather than gimmicky studio trickery. This was indeed purposeful, as the band wanted “Chew” to seem like criss-crossing AM radio broadcasts. Melodic psych-pop drifts up against crunchy, progressive riffs and good ol’ steel-guitar driven country rock, but it all works. The most noticeable aspect of “Chew” is the band’s comfort in letting the tunes have space to settle in; the lilting, cosmic country of ‘Over and Over’, or the fragile, jazzy “Little Lou” which hints at the avant-pop experimentalism of Brian Eno’s classic Seventies albums are perfect examples. The album’s centerpiece “Dama de Lavanda” is perhaps their most accomplished composition to date, with it’s breezy latin rhythms - it swings with an assuredness unseen from the band as yet. Horns & flutes pepper the mix, but it’s the Bacharach-meets-Pretty Things outro that really hits a home run. The obvious peak of an album crackling with ideas & creativity.
“Chew” was recorded by the band in bassist Peter Stringer-Hye’s garage studio in Nashville & mixed by Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave) at Chicago’s Minbal Studios. “Chew” is released on compact disc & black vinyl, and includes a download code.
RIYL: Brian Eno, Gong, Nap Eyes, White Fence, Ultimate Painting, Kevin Ayers, Quilt