Singer-songwriter and producer Jason Quever is one artist that until only fairly recently I was unaware of. But on hearing this album, his sixth with Papercuts, I thought how is this possible? Working the same indie-rock scene that I first found so appealing the day I heard My Bloody Valentine back in 1988 and began to first gaze shoewards. A welcome meeting of minds, (well I say “meeting”, perhaps “grazing” might be a better way of putting it!?), Quever is far more than just the frontman of a band, as this release bears witness. Just reading down the wonderful track listing is like devouring the finest menu; press play and this increases tenfold. Like your ‘indie’? Then this diet is custom-made for you. I don’t think I have heard an album that from the outset firmly plants its flag and proceeds to just go from strength to strength for quite some time. From track 1, until the record’s fade, this succeeds in doing exactly that.
Parallel Universe Blues opens with ‘Mattress On The Floor’, (I’m sure we’ve all been there) a glorious swathe of droning guitar and lazy vocal. A sub-two minute homage to Spacemen 3, perhaps? More Jason Pierce than Sonic Boom, but I’m taking this one home! Then we’re heading into territory first inhabited by The Beach Boys as California sounds cry out. Perhaps not so much male harmonies, but certainly sunshine aplenty – this is ‘Laughing Man‘, from an artist hailing from San Francisco, certainly believable. On the video of this single, it’s strange as, although it’s shot in black & white, the musical production comes across in stunning Technicolor!
Then not so much a change of pace as a gear change, as much of what we’ve all been reading about this band falls into place. It has been said that Papercuts own The Jesus and Mary Chain in their sound and it’s on ‘How To Quit Smoking‘ that the influence of the Reid brothers certainly plays a part in where we are heading from here on. Glorious hooks give way to a canvas of melody and vocal that sinks deep. ‘Sing To Me Candy‘ is where we really hear the band playing to their heroes; is it a person or perhaps ‘Some Candy Talking‘ that Quever is playing to here? Fuzz pedal turned up low and I just want to gaze at my shoes and relive a time not forgotten.
‘Clean Living‘ shows another influence in The Velvet Underground’s debut album, and not so much west-coast as east steps forward, as the cello I initially mistook as ‘Black Angel Death Song‘ becomes present. It’s maybe less Reed than it is Nico, but whichever side this lands, it’s just another example of how good the album is. ‘Kathleen Says‘ follows and we’re only halfway through, but this harks back to late sixties girl-group romp, mini-skirts and monotone dresses, sung by the dark shade wearing male vocalist. Oh, I’ve happened upon the Velvet Underground again! You see how easy it is to paint with the album?! ‘Walk Backwards‘ steps up the tempo, although it is in keeping with the sixties theme and plays to harmonium. ‘All Along Mary‘ is another slice of Darklands-era Reid brothers at their best.
The penultimate ‘Waking Up‘ pens those guitar melodies we’ve become familiar with, tremolo guitar rhythm and I would wish it no other-way, as ‘Looking Through The Heather‘ wraps up an album that has been exactly as I described when I embarked on this journey: as the finest menu. So feeling more than satisfied, I think I’ll return for just another helping, if you don’t mind?
Parallel Universe Blues is released on 19th October through Slumberland Records.