Posts Tagged ‘Jason Quever’

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Opening with a brisk, dynamic, and hummable instrumental riff, “How To Quit Smoking” advances quickly from there into a verse so confidently melodic as to recall some lovely, imaginative amalgam of Belle & Sebastian and The Smiths. Papercuts’ master mind Jason Quever sings with the barest hint of a British accent that he actually doesn’t have and a baked-in wistfulness augmented by vocals that are mixed down into the center of the rhythm section. He sounds to me like someone singing on a budding spring day about how he actually misses the autumn.

This one is propelled by a classic backbeat as well, but note what a different vibe. Despite Quever’s gentle presence the song bounds forward with a determination reinforced every time the opening riff cycles back through. There’s an extra songwriting trick in here that, to my ear, adds to the song’s pluck: the way that in most of the verses, the third lyrical line picks up without any rhythmic space from the second line—listen at 0:36 for an example (the second line ends with the words “on the ceiling,” the third begins with “Read a book,” directly on the next beat, in the same measure). This is a small gesture that you’re probably not intended to notice, but it’s a wonderful flow-enhancer in just the right place.

Quever has been recording as Papercuts since 2004, including one record for Sub Pop in 2011. Long based in San Francisco, he recently moved to Los Angeles. His latest album is Parallel Universe Blues, on which “How To Quit Smoking” is the third track. It was released on Slumberland Records in October 2018. You can listen to the whole thing on Bandcamp, and then buy it there in your preferred format (digital, CD, vinyl).

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Owen Ashworth’s albums have always been about the human condition, and his latest is no exception. That may sound strange, given that it’s called “Animal Companionship“, but it’s as human as anything he’s done before.

After hearing problems forced the end of his electronic pop project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in 2010, Ashworth started making quieter music as Advance Base, releasing A Shut-In’s Prayer in 2012, Nephew In The Wild in 2015 and a slew of tapes and 7” EPs in between. After releasing a 2016 live album, In Bloomington, the prodigious songwriter shifted his focus to his label, Orindal Records, and put his efforts into helping other artists release their music.

This break from songwriting gave him time to explore not just how he makes music, but why he’s driven to do so. “I spent a lot of time thinking about why I write songs and what I get out of writing songs,” he said. “It took a while to get back to writing for myself, unselfconsciously.

“The reason I’ve always made music is because it’s therapeutic for me,” he said. “It’s a way of processing my feelings and understanding my subconscious. I love the ritual of writing a song and performing it over and over again until its meaning reveals itself. It’s the closest I get to meditation.”

The meditative nature of Ashworth’s new songwriting process can be heard in Animal Companionship’s spacious arrangements. Blissful drones and lush synthesizer textures envelop soft electric piano arpeggiations and spare drum programming, creating an almost hypnotic backdrop for Ashworth’s lyrical narratives. And the lyrics themselves have found a new focus: dogs.

“There was a while last year when a bunch of different friends of mine were having problems with their dogs,” said Ashworth, “and even though I don’t have a dog, suddenly I was giving all of this dog advice. I was just thinking and worrying about these friends and their dogs all of the time, and dogs just started showing up in my songs.

“When you explain the relationship you have with a pet, it can sound crazy. We all tend to anthropomorphize the animals we love, talking about them as if they’re children, siblings, even spouses,” said Ashworth. “I wrote these songs to help myself understand what pets mean to their owners, how those animal relationships affect our human relationships, and vice versa.”

Unlike the previous Advance Base albums, which were made at home on Ashworth’s trusty 4-track tape machine, Animal Companionship was mostly recorded at Palmetto Studios in Los Angeles with Ashworth’s old friend and former Casiotone for the Painfully Alone collaborator Jason Quever. Animal Companionship still sounds like Ashworth, but Quever’s production adds more depth and clarity than you’ve ever heard from an Advance Base or Casiotone album. The album opener, “True Love Death Dream,” is full of warm synthesizer textures and lush drum machine tones, the kind that sink deep into your soul and take root there. It shows how much time and consideration Ashworth put into Animal Companionship, and how Quever knew exactly how to capture it.

From the pedal steel atmospherics of “Dolores & Kimberly” to the densely layered oscillations of “Rabbits,” every movement beautifully frames each song’s narrative. Animal Companionship’s production is expansive but always deliberate, allowing Ashworth to speak volumes through subtle, emotional gestures.

Taken as a whole, Animal Companionship is not just a step forward for Advance Base—it’s the culmination of everything Ashworth has been building for the past two decades. It’s a record that’s gentle in approach and endearing in practice, the kind of thing that only Ashworth could create.

“Dolores & Kimberly” by Advance Base off the album Animal Companionship out September 21st, 2018 on Run For Cover Records