If you're inclined toward mind-alteration, taking the edge off, stewing in your own juices, there is good news on the music pipeline: A beautiful dose of Gainesville, Florida by way of New York, LA and the Great Beyond. With all the goodness of ecstasy and vicodin, good pot and expensive wine, papercranes bring on a perfect buzz that will let you operate heavy machinery and explore the dark side without getting drowsy.
"We like each other. We like playing music together," lead singer Rain Phoenix tells us. Sure, it's an understatement but the fact is, the whole band likes to keep it simple. Elemental. They start with modest musical ideas and stream-of-consciousness lyrics, seemingly translucent layers of clarity, and they twist it all into nuanced, mystifying works that call to mind the early purveyors of moody, melodic rock like Luna and Belly. That is, if those bands were fronted by the stunningly beautiful and sultry-voiced Rain Phoenix.
The "we" in question is quietly guided by guitarist Michael Tubbs, who also happens to be an architect and magician. And after searching both coasts and employing some very able players, Rain and Michael simplified -- settled down with their friends and neighbors: Robb Buono (guitar), Andy Lord (bass), Mike Amish (keyboards) and Dave Lebleu (drums). They are an understated lot that lets you explore their charms at your own pace.
And yes, Rain Phoenix has been involved with an amazing array of projects.
Starting with Aleka's Attic, which she started with her brother, to singing with REM and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, to playing in a local metal band called Nux Vomica and glamming it up for NYC political cabaret ensemble The Citizens' Band, she has cut her teeth in awfully public arenas. Maybe that's why she possesses a preternatural confidence and an almost scary stage presence. To see papercranes live is hardly the same trip as floating through the new album, Vidalia, since Rain can wail as well as she can whisper. Hers is the ravishing voice that can stand up to the intricate delicacies of Vic Chesnutt and Angela McCluskey, both of whom guest on the album.
Vidalia comes out through the band itself this fall. Recorded in Athens, New York, Gainesville and Los Angeles, the album was produced by the band and mixed by Jamie Candiloro, who mixed Ryan Adams' Rock N Roll album. The songs spiral and swirl out your stereo, as atmospheric as they are delicate, tackling topics like trust, abandonment, loss and need. "For the most part we like to write using whatever is inspiring us in the moment," Rain says. "With less attachment to the outcome, we often find we are happier with the results. We aren't 'going for' anything in particular we just want to see where things naturally "go.""
And "go" they certainly do. papercranes is at work already on a new EP and will soon be touring the East Coast in support of Vidalia. If their tour is anything like their music, it will be one beautiful trip indeed.