By Jim Schutze
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Listening to Can't Go Back, the newest release Jason Quever has made under the Papercuts moniker, it's not difficult to hear echoes of classic '60s psychedelic pop such as the Kinks and the Beatles within the pensive melodies and haunting imagery. Even though Quever acknowledges the influences of the past, he shies away from any easy categorization of his music.
"I'd rather the word 'retro' never come up with my music," says Quever, a notorious recluse, from his San Francisco home. "I suppose it's my own fault," he adds. "In fact, I am going to look on eBay for a vocoder right now."
Quever seems to relish residing in the playful and unique middle ground between the epic splendor of the late '60s and the postmodern angst of bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Pavement. He even names Django Reinhardt as an inspiration.
"I like music from all eras that I have heard," says Quever, who doesn't limit his influences to the obvious realms. "I consider the original Twilight Zone TV show a huge inspiration to me," he adds. "Something [is] so moving and eerie about it."
Indeed, Quever makes that connection perfectly clear, as songs such as "Take the 227th Exit" and "Outside Looking In" are creepy narratives of a surprising beauty, fitful and fun mixtures of innuendo and ennui. "Treat me just like a dog/I don't mind at all," sings Quever like the bastard son of Iggy Pop and Phil Spector on "Dear Employee" as his current bandmates create a stunning racket behind him.
"My band has been the same for a while now, and I love it," says Quever. Featuring a rhythm section of drummer Matt Stromberg and bassist Trevor Montgomery, the current incarnation of Papercuts is more dynamic and attentive than previous lineups. As opposed to Mockingbird, Papercuts' critically heralded 2004 release, Can't Go Back finds Quever much more focused, determined to not let any attention go to his head.
"For the new record, I wanted to be less stream-of-consciousness," says Quever. "That always ends up being about myself, and that is boring."
"I wanted to do something more positive this time around," he adds, "something to exercise sympathy and drama." Judging by the majority of Can't Go Back, Quever has succeeded on a scale that he himself may not have imagined. There is a swirling, dreamlike quality to Quever's work that is balanced by a forceful yearning that escapes many in the pop field. Making the soft sound loud is no easy task, but Quever loves melding genres and styles.
"I love classic soul and gospel, but I suppose that might not be apparent," says Quever. "It's all still rock 'n' roll in my opinion."