The Blurries

Over the course of the past few years, The Blurries may have been the best-kept secret in town. Proficient in driving, catchy power-pop anthems — and among the tightest performers around, if not the flat-out tops in that category — the band has existed mostly under the radar. For a few reasons: Its members aren't particularly young, their gigs aren't particularly frequent and, well, there's the whole name thing.

For a while there, guitarist and lead vocalist Joey Shanks, bassist Andy Lester and drummer Bill Spellman went by the Slider Pines moniker — a name that, upon first glance, unfairly found the band pegged as some sort of alt-country band. Now, on the band's second full-length and first as The Blurries — now featuring an updated live lineup that also includes Young & Brave's Matt Shasteen on guitar and The Crash That Took Me's Kevin Howard on keys — that all seems a thing of the distant past. The only spillover evident on this 12-track release from the band's prior incarnation is the album's closer, "Pulling Teeth," which was also found on the band's 2008 EP. It's a fine inclusion with its cascading guitars, but it's among the slower cuts on this fast-paced collection.

For the most part, the band performs Paper Cuts at full throttle, capturing the nervous energy of The Replacements and bottling it in a Byrds aesthetic. The album doesn't get much better than it does on opening cut "Little Marie," with its start-stop chorus and showcasing of Shank's impressive upper-register timbre. But it doesn't get much worse, either, resulting in a cohesive album that compels for its entire 35-minute run time.

Took 'em a while, but The Blurries seem to have finally figured it all out.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman