MP3 Paperplanes - Rhinestone Republic
Indie alt country
15 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Alt-Country, ROCK: American Underground
post-punk with a twang.
When we last heard Long Beach’s Paperplanes on 2006’s self-released Volcanoes, they had just taken their first baby steps into the alt-country wilderness, adding elegiac strains of steel guitar to their jittery, Velvets-infused sound. With Rhinestone Republic, however, the ‘Planes have eschewed the “alt” prefix, driving deep into real country territory. Here, twangy Bakersfield guitars, honky tonk rhythms and heartfelt lyrics of loss, escape and addiction coalesce into something undeniably authentic—and almost unbelievable given that the record is an entirely DIY affair, written, recorded and mixed by the band.
Trading off songs by guitarist Micah Panzich and bassist Pete Tavera, Rhinestone Republic uncovers remarkable songcraft and musicality. Panzich trades licks on his Telecaster with the virtuosic Cliff Kane on pedal steel, whose presence throughout the album is an outright blessing. Rob Harvick drums with an understated touch, rolling the beat across the saloon floor on the upbeat “You Know Sin,” but dialing it back on weary-eyed numbers like “In This Town” and “Full Bloom.”
Once the fiddle swells up alongside Panzich on the intimate closer “Don’t Make a Sound,” you’ll feel like turning the lights out. Although a companion album—the rock-oriented TransAmerican Lights—will be out later this year, you can’t escape feeling that with Rhinestone Republic the Paperplanes have achieved something definitive.
by Chris Ziegler
The District Weekly
It got dark and I’d been waiting so I could most diligently listen to the new Paperplanes album, and so I took off Terry Allen’s Lubbock (On Everything), which contains some of the finest writing of any kind ever to come with an American credit, and I put on Paperplanes’ new album and let it roll, just as Guy Clark reminds us, and it fit like Terry himself had just been saving a seat. Paperplanes took the other road to Lubbock c. 1979—singer/guitarist Micah Panzich calls it “post-punk with twang,” which makes only half sense to all redneck mothers and El Paso assholes—and though we end up chatting happily about Pere Ubu and Velvet Underground in the cozy high-rise rehearsal space Paperplanes call the Eagle’s Nest, their new Rhinestone Republic shares only a certain purity of guitar tone and weariness of spirit with those ’70s rust-rock debasers. Rhinestone is big sky not big city—cowtown country rock (with pedal steel filigree by Cliff Kane) from the year 2003 minus 25.
Until last week, Paperplanes—Panzich, Kane, bassist/singer Pete Tavera, and drummer Rob Harvick—hadn’t showed a hair in sunlight for almost eight months, instead ensconced—a word inappropriate only until they took me up to a rehearsal studio checkered with thrift-store oils and a signed photo of Bigfoot, though not signed by Bigfoot—until they quit recording after 25 songs that they’ll be releasing as two different albums, even though Panzich says they’ve still got more they didn’t have stamina reserved enough to tape. (Since Paperplanes started in Tucson, Arizona, as Panzich’s four-track band, he figures 300-some songs have come and gone.) Transamerican Lights is coming soon and will be the “rock record,” which is more what we remember as Paperplanes—Lou Reed/Robert Pollard/maybe some Replacements trio—and here is Rhinestone Republic now with one humble honest hour that’s easily the best I’ve heard so far this short year.
Panzich sings in the high register (David Lowery when he’s sad and not sarcastic) and Tavera sings in the low middle and they sing lead on the songs they happened to write, and although the fast songs are good and sometimes so great (“Honky Tonk,” like an outlaw George Jones cover, and Panzich says Jones and Jennings are all over Rhinestone) the slow songs make the lights dim, and here I’ll find you two of the finest: Panzich’s “Number Nine,” written during the minutes Tavera was in the hospital possibly having a heart attack, and Panzich was by the home phone waiting for the call back, and as pedal steel flutters down to the telephone wire he sings, “Because you choose your own path, you’re at the end of your line / now I’m standing on the edge, waiting for a friend to die . . . ” And then Tavera’s “Full Bloom,” which could replace “Stoney” on Jerry Jeff Walker’s 1976 A Good Night For Singin’ to the benefit of all involved, and which Pete sings so fearless and true that I’d have to go lay down to wonder about my own life before I could finish typing three lines of his lyrics, and when the fiddle comes in on follower “Weekend” (very Camper van) it’s like someone shaking you awake. I did a whole interview with them but what’s good for print after that? So we grabbed beers and I looked out the big windows at Long Beach in the night and wondered how they did it. Have you heard Terry Allen, I asked? No, they said. Well, I should have said, he’d probably like to meet you.
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