Can I be honest without sounding like a douchey elitist for a moment? It’s hard to find good music these days.
To clarify, I mean really great music, with an all-around flair for instrumentation and mood and songwriting — oh man, how I love a well-written song. There’s plenty of people out there trying it, and honestly, they’re doing a very good job about it. There are albums out there that I crave sometimes, and artists whose output I’ve been waiting for on the edge of my seat. I mean, if it wasn’t good, I wouldn’t really listen to it, right? And I listen to a lot of music.
Ok, so the fire/brimstone/nostalgia section is concluded. Bottom line, music is friggin’ complicated. There are so many variables to its outcome that the odds are always stacked against artists. Simple is too simple, progressive is too progressive, music theory is archaic and too strict, freeform noise isn’t music — the complaints come from every angle.
Enter Jerry Paper, whose album Vol. I, seems the least bit concerned with all of it. I first learned of the project (by Brooklyn-based L.W. Nathan) through the Dayvan Zombear podcast way back in July 2012. I’ve had about six months to digest it — it’s actually been about a year since its release — and since then, I’ve learned pretty much nothing about the artist. And I’ve still managed to play it every few days without hesitation.
It’s a “drugs in space in the 90s” type of sound, that’s for sure. If you were watching Tron at a midnight showing, magically teleported through the screen and ended up smoking weed with jumpsuited Jeff Bridges on a digital carousel, which also ran a water-damaged Wurlitzer, it would be playing this album.
The downside — inevitable as previously stated — is that every track sounds very similar. Still, there’s enough variation to make do, and more importantly, the record only lasts about half an hour anyway, which is enough time to get your fix without feeling like you’re drowning in technicolor seas.
But the absolute highlight is that Nathan’s song structures are pretty damn good. Combine that with the squeaky synths and the brevity of each track, and you’ve got a solid and simple record, free from as many complications as possible.
You can listen to Vol. I at Bandcamp, and even buy the mp3s on a name-your-price basis. Also be sure to check out Jerry Paper’s Soundcloud to hear some of the other work he’s done.