You have to admire a band of decent humans that actually write and play decent songs. Makes you somewhat jealous. When you like a person or people in normal everyday life, the real world if you will, particularly if you call said people your mates, when they announce to the world that they have created something and are about to set it upon the world, you just pray to the heavens you are going to dig it. In this day and age, honesty seems to come at the expense of avoiding awkwardness, upsetting the apple cart or just staying ‘cool.’ We dread the thought of letting folks know we think their music stinks - at least to their face anyway. So thankfully Paper Thin’s new EP Living With. Being Without. is certifiably sick.
If you have been kicking around town for a while and not been fortunate enough to have made acquaintances with Spencer Scott, then you would be unfamiliar with the fact that he is possibly one of the most overworked and underpaid champions of original music in Newcastle, if not Australia. When he is not flat out being a journalist, curator, booker, manager, promoter, record store clerk and a shit tonne of other stuff in between, Spencer just happens to be a songwriter, vocalist and bass player in local band Paper Thin.
After releasing a demo tape last year via Lost Boy Records, Living With. Being Without. becomes the bands second official release, also through Lost Boy. As demo tapes go, after listening to the new EP it is now clearer that PT were just finding their feet and making their initial scratchings as a group. A year down the track and the songs are definitely showing maturity. Not that the demo didn’t yield some clever writing, but there is an obvious growth and meticulousness in the writing and production this time round. Of course having worked with Mat Taylor (Safe Hands, Tired Minds, Grace Turner etc) will aid this. Recorded at Mat’s home in the green fields of Patterson, sonically the recording is on point. Taylor seems to have a knack of recognising the strengths and weakness’ of his artists and plays to them. The overall tones are clean and crisp, but still carry a certain level of grit to keep the whole thing sounding warm and cosy. There are obvious Poison City Records references to be heard, but I certainly can’t pigeonhole Paper Thin as being completely typical of said scene. I can hear throws to mid naughties Australian independent rock ala After The Fall, Mere Theory and Gyroscope and at times I want to say there are parts that sound kind of Catfish and the Bottlemen. When You Callkicks things off strong. The line ‘When your nervous your thumb glides across mine’ shows great word economy, setting up a scene in my head without over painting it, as to leave listeners enough room to insert themselves and finish it off. The build toward a surprising chord change into the chorus demonstrates some of that maturity I spoke about earlier. I believe I heard Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks say once, ‘give em three chords they expect then the one they don’t.’ and I reckon this sentiment rings true here. London features lead vocals from Aidan Roe and despite the distinct differences in writing style to Spencer there is definitely a strong sense of cohesiveness. We then roll into my personal highlight of the EP, Post It Note. On first listen, Scott’s vocals are booming with soul and gusto on the line ‘It’s hard not to imagine a time when I’m not a burden to everyone around me – TO EVERYONE’ left my jaw on the desk, thinking where the f@#k did that come from? The song works it’s way to a crescendo of intensity before bursting and breathing a sigh of relief and settling down into a broken outro reminiscent of something Foolish and Here’s Where The Strings Come In era Superchunk. The record finishes with Scared Of Flying which showcases a very listenable alternative rock choon. Sometimes twin vocals can be distracting and annoying, but here the space is occupied without overcrowding it. Ably backed by Liam Tobin’s concise and exciting drumming and Will Houlcroft’s colourful and creative guitar, Living With. Being Without sets up a pretty positive outlook for Paper Thin’s career as a band. Another fine example of Newcastle music thriving. I opted for the vinyl, which is available from our good mates at the Edwards Shop, but LW.BW is available via BandCamp and your preferred streaming providers. Get on it.
Heard any new Newcastle releases lately? Hook us up, we want to know about it.