There is a lot of great, guitar driven indie music coming out of New Jersey these days. Paper Streets have to be added to that list. The band’s members, all who grew up in the Jackson area, have been busy perfecting their sound. The recently released Souvenirs is a testament to that.
The single “Murmur” opens the album and it is an appropriate name as the intro of jangly guitar remind me of R.E.M. It is a melodic, upbeat tune with some great drums from Anthony Meleo. The touches of synth are not overpowering while giving the song an extra lift. “Do you think three years is long enough for you to get happy?”, as mentioned in other reviews, has a definite mid/late 80s Cure vibe, with lush guitar work from Steve Stec and soaring vocals. I also hear a little Shins in the mix. We are talking well constructed indie pop.
The excellent “Straight Lines” is a post-punk inspired song that really stands out. Riding the wave of a striped down guitar hook the song is quite infectious as it builds momentum. The vocals from Cody Ste Mariere are grittier and you can feel the desperation as he sings “I just can’t seem to work things out”. Last up is “While we were tired…”, a slower paced song that features some great bass from and Lou Carrao and dreamy vocals. It is a perfect closer here.
We look forward to hearing what the band is cooking up for the rest of 2015. Souvenirs is a great start.
You can pick up the album on the band’s Bandcamp page.
Steve answered a few questions for us;
How did you guys meet and come up with the name Paper Streets?
Paper Streets was born a small child of a man named Christoph Walter Hussey in Summer 2011. I spent the previous winter writing some songs on acoustic guitar with Cody for a show at my school that never happened. He showed our friends some songs he wrote and they were some of my favorite I ever heard so I conned him into a partnership. I had always been jamming and sketching songs with Anthony since I started playing guitar, Anthony was in Paper Streets before it even started. Right around the time of this happening, I saw Lou in a Jackson bar. I had never talked to him before that night but I had seen him play in other bands and I liked his hair. I also knew he was the best bassist in town (the world, actually) and that he was the only one who could round out the numbers. I sold him pretty easily. As for the name, a Paper Street is a construction term for planned streets drawn on maps that don’t exist in reality, only real on paper and in theory. I like everything about that. I like the physical image Paper Streets evokes in my head, I like the literal definition, and how the two words together phonetically play off each other. Something frail like Paper, something solid like a Street. Something hard and something pretty, something noisy but tuneful. I think that’s us in a nutshell.
You are all originally from the Jackson area. What was it like growing up there? Do you get back and visit the old haunts?
I think that it can’t be understated how vital of a factor location truly is in shaping our ethos as a band and the way it influences how we express our thoughts and ideas as writers. Blurry visions of golden wheat fields from the back of our parents car and the days we spent in the woods are formative in the way we think and operate as individuals, but so do the feelings of nodding off in trains or walking down dark city streets. These experiences are entwined with the nature of how we write songs and play our instruments, the way our songs differ stylistically yet are inherently cut from the same cloth. At first when I thought about our Jackson upbringing, it seemed kinda like the typical experience of suburban New Jersey youth but looking back on what it was like growing up in Jackson does seem kinda surreal in a way. Sort of a strange place with a lot of different connotations to a lot of different people. Russian graveyards, that one amusement park … one time with Cody, we saw a bear! I know all of us spent our fair share of our time wandering around the woods well into our teenage years. At the time it seemed normal but I see more often as I grow up that it’s something kids I’ve met over the years from places in nearby beach towns or away at university know nothing about.
How is Brooklyn treating you?
Ha! Brooklyn is great but it broke me, literally. Cody and myself are back home in Jersey. Our rhythm section still resides in Bushwick and they’re on the grind everyday. Anthony bought the coolest 80s Tascam cassette recorder anyone has ever seen and spends his free time wrapped up in learning the warp of tape hiss. Lou goes to audio school up there, too. Cody and I are back twice a month for practice, sometimes more to play shows. We love to visit!
How long was “Souvenirs” in the making? Happy with the response so far?
Souvenirs actually took a few months to record, primarily because of disjointed work schedules and the distance between us. We definitely weren’t rushed into like twelve hours days in the studio, either. I don’t think we could have asked for a better, more relaxed environment to record our songs and think of what we were doing. We recorded everything in New Jersey with our dear friend Andy Bova (of the great New Jersey surf pop band Dentist). We all couldn’t have been happier with how Andy treated us and the songs. He was gentle. We are happy that it seems like some people really appreciate the songs and understand our sound and intentions.
The sound has an 80s Cure/New Order influence. Are you a fan of that era of music?
Yeah, oh yeah! While those certainly aren’t our only influences, the Cure and New Order are such monumental pillars of indie who’s own uniqueness and sound has been saturated into the DNA of indie pop over the decades since their inception. I’m sure they even influenced some of our other influences. I do think it’s fair and accurate (and awesome) that you highlighted the influence of those two bands specifically because I always thought the way Anthony and Lou move together bass and drums had a very New Order like pulse to it sometimes, those early tunes like Ceremony, Dreams Never End, all the goodies. I know Cody likes the Cure more, he’s gotten his fair share of Robert Smith comparisons. For me personally, New Order looms heavily over my songwriting. Sometimes I get sad because I feel like I can’t think of anything besides Bernard Sumner-eqsue one string guitar lines. He did okay for himself with those, though. I always loved that he wasn’t technically too good of a guitar player (or singer even!) but managed to get by with more important things like feeling, tone, and just being fucking phenomenal at writing pop songs.
The EP gives a nice sampling of your sound. Are you writing more material for 2015?
Thank you! We think it did, too. That’s probably what we are happiest about with Souvenirs, it’s a nice display of our range with some noisy ones, some slick pop tunes, and some dreamier ones. I think not only was Andy able to showcase the things we already knew we were good at, he allowed us to venture off into some directions we desired to explore. I think that the awesome synth lines and keyboard flutters added in post-production are excellent examples of both of those things with the way it brought out that 80s, New Order feel you mentioned. As for writing new material, we write a lottttttt. That can’t be stressed enough. Some good tunes, too. We have an album’s worth of new material, at least; but I think with where we’re at right now, we’re trying to figure out how to create an atmosphere and sound we like on analog. Once that’s done, we planned on getting a few songs of Tascam gunk on a 7 inch by the summer as a litmus test and hopefully that kinda sparks our most productive period of recording and releasing songs.
Five words to describe Paper Streets?
Your soft hearted sweet hearts <3
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