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The Paperhead: The Paperhead

Album Notes

Some things never change: give kids the right drugs, and they'll start pouring out some gloomy, modal guitar workouts and reverse gear tape manipulation faster than you can say "Albert Hoffman." The Paperhead are three kids from Nashville who were barely old enough to buy cigarettes when they recorded their self-titled debut for Trouble in Mind Records, but while it was cut in 2010, this could pass for some private-press LP conjured up by a pack of tie-dyed acid enthusiasts back in the dear, dead '60s, and few would ever spot the fraud. Guitarist Ryan Jennings seems to know his psychedelic history, and clearly has an intuitive feel for this music as his fuzzy, echo-laden leads function both as music and as vivid historical reenactment, just as bassist Peter Stringer-Hye and drummer Walker Mimms give him a rhythmic foundation that's like an aural waterbed, gushy where you want it to be and solid when it needs to be. But though the Paperhead confirm that the virtues of the psychedelic experience remain constant all these years later, the album also reveals that the drawbacks haven't changed much, either. Just as most first-era psychedelic bands were bigger on atmosphere and extended guitar experiments than on well-structured songs, the Paperhead tend to meander a lot on this album, and though these 12 songs clock in at a little more than 33 minutes, the album feels significantly longer, as the musicians wander through a land of color and light that exists in their own collective mind, unseen, and more significantly, unheard by those of us at home. For a first proper album from three teenagers, The Paperhead is remarkably ambitious, and a surprising amount of it works quite well, especially when they come up with an actual melody on tracks like "Do You Ever Think of Me" and "Let Me Know." But while the high points here are high indeed, when this record gets lost, it takes its time getting back on the highway, and unless you're suitably medicated for the experience, you might find yourself skipping over the less exciting passages to get to the good stuff. ~ Mark Deming


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