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Paper Chase, The - Someday This Could All Be Yours,... Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 9.25
Lyrics 8.25
Production 8
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 7.25
Final Verdict: 84%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 7.75
Production 9
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8
Average: 84%

Paper Chase, The - Someday This Could All Be Yours,...

Reviewed by: Chris Collum (11/28/09)
Paper Chase, TheSomeday This Could All Be Yours, Vol. 1
Release Date: May 26, 2009
Record Label: Kill Rock Stars


This was a user review published several years prior to my becoming staff.

The Paper Chase is essentially the brainchild of John Congleton, acclaimed record producer (Modest Mouse, R. Kelly, The Polyphonic Spree, Marilyn Manson, The Roots, Autopilot Off), and indie musician. The band released its first album in 2000, and now consists of Congleton, Sean Kirkpatrick (formerly of Spoon), Bobby Weaver, and Jason Garner. Someday This Could All Be Yours, Vol. 1 is the Dallas, Texas outfit's fifth album, and their first since 2006's Now You Are One of Us.

Someday is an apocalyptic concept album in which each song is intended to represent a different natural disaster. The instrumentation on the album largely mirrors the themes of the lyrical subject matter: it is at once chaotic, bombastic, explosive and potent. The band does not settle for usual rock arrangements of guitar, bass and drums, instead leaning heavily on searing cellos, thunderous percussion, and dissonant pianos, often plucked by the strings. Despite these discordant arrangements, Congleton somehow manages to create an eerie sort of harmony, his voice swelling above the sonic tempest. As a result, such otherwise bleak and harsh songs as “I’m Going to Heaven With or Without You (The Forest Fire),” gain a strangely anthemic feel as Congleton sings, “I’ll keep a horseshoe on my step/I’ll keep a cross around my neck/Draping garlic over our beds.”

It can only be expected that a concept as large and in-depth as the one presented on Someday will have its occasional missteps in which the storyline and the music come in conflict. By the fifth track, “Your Money or Your Life (The Comet),” the listener may easily have grown somewhat tired of the concept, and Congleton’s dire proclamations: “No one’s going to save you,” he sings. The music begins to lose its punch eventually as well: the constant discord and chaos grows stale at times. Furthermore, all of the songs on the album generally have little variation in sound.

That being said, it is possible to overlook the occasional weird, partially nonsensical line or yet another dissonant piano line—the trick loses some of its effect after a while—for such breathtaking moments as the one that comes a little less than three minutes into the aforementioned track, when Congleton belts out the above refrain as if his life really did depend on it. When the instrumentation does occasionally grow stale and repetitive, it is more often than not saved by Congleton’s delivery of a piercing chorus, melody soaring above a raging sea of discord.

Musically, the band seems to function as a cohesive unit remarkably well given the fluid and disorganized qualities of the arrangements. Kirkpatrick’s dissonant, spidery piano parts are essential to the music, often creating a feeling of chaos and coming calamity. Congleton’s guitar work is in much the same vein, although it is not as essential to the band’s sound on this album. Conversely, Weaver’s bass lines are often the source of a driving melody and rhythm, keeping whatever chord progression there is together, and tying all the various elements in just as much as Congleton’s vocals do. Finally, the drumming is fantastic. Garner, a new addition for Someday, doesn’t play the drums as much as he assaults them. For proof of this, simply see his thunderous work at the end of “If Nobody Moves, Nobody Will Get Hurt (The Extinction).”

Lyrically, Congleton seems able to recognize the futility, the fragility, and the absolute necessity of the human condition all at once. Someday is best viewed not through the lens of a Nostradamus-like figure actually predicting the world’s end, but rather as the work of a man tormented by what society has presented him as acceptable, and puzzled by society’s fascination with things that are obviously of very little importance in the “grand scheme of things.” Congleton’s purpose for the album is perhaps best expressed in the following lines, part of a spoken word clip that helps make the transition from the first to second track:
“It’s all random…Originating aimlessly out of nothing, and eventually vanishing forever. I’m not talking about the world; I’m talking about the universe. All space, all time…just a temporary convulsion.”
However, due to the often cryptic nature of his lyrics, it is sometimes difficult to decipher what exactly Congleton is singing about. One thing, however, is clear: he means what he says; every line is delivered with gut-wrenching passion and sincerity. But I believe that the object of that sincerity is open to debate.

As the title suggests, this is only the first half of a two-part release. Look for the second half sometime in 2010; Congleton has said that he’s not really sure when it will come out. I am sure it will have many the same merits as its predecessor. All in all, Someday This Could All Be Yours, Vol. 1 is a creative and epic-scale album that has musical merits that far outstrip its lyrical ambitions. While the concept does indeed grow old at times, the album is rescued time and time again by Congleton’s innate ability to turn lines such as “I’m certain it’s curtains/It’s curtains for you and me” into soaring, sing-a-long hooks. Accessible it is not, gloomy it may be, but Someday This Could All Be Yours, Vol. 1 puts The Paper Chase on the map as a very original indie rock band capable of some grand ideas and some explosive music.

Recommended If You LikeModest Mouse, The Mothers of Invention, Xiu Xiu, apocalyptic concept albums, cellos, musical discord and chaos.


Track Listing1. If Nobody Moves, Nobody Will Get Hurt (The Extinction)
2. I’m Going to Heaven With or Without You (The Forest Fire)
3. The Common Cold (The Epidemic)
4. The Laying of Hands, the Speaking of Tongues (The Mass Hysteria)
5. Your Money or Your Life (The Comet)
6. What Should We Do with Your Body (The Lightning)
7. This Is a Rape (The Flood)
8. The Small of Your Back, the Nape of Your Neck (The Blizzard)
9. This Is Only a Test (The Tornado)
10. We Have Ways to Make You Talk (The Human Condition)


The Paper Chase is:John Congleton – Vocals, Guitar, Programming
Sean Kirkpatrick – Synthesizer, Piano
Bobby Weaver – Bass Guitar
Jason Garner – Drums


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Displaying posts 1 - 7 of 7
05:51 AM on 12/22/09
#2
bard
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great review. they've been in my top 5 artists since hide the kitchen knives came out. the albums are amazing, but to truly experience them, you gotta see them live.
11:13 AM on 12/22/09
#3
Chris Collum
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great review. they've been in my top 5 artists since hide the kitchen knives came out. the albums are amazing, but to truly experience them, you gotta see them live.
Yeah, I bet. Thanks!
11:19 AM on 12/22/09
#4
bard
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Yeah, I bet. Thanks!
have you never seen them?

i live in fort worth, so they're pretty much a local band around here. i must have seen them 10 times by now.
11:25 AM on 12/22/09
#5
Chris Collum
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have you never seen them?

i live in fort worth, so they're pretty much a local band around here. i must have seen them 10 times by now.
No I haven't. Not too many good bands come through Kentucky ;)
10:58 AM on 02/20/10
#6
Betrayal Five
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I'm shocked to see a review of this band on here, and very happy! They have been one of my favorites for awhile. "God Bless Your Black Heart" is still in my top 10 albums and on a healthy rotation. On a side-note, John emailed me to respond to my question of "why don't you tour in CA?" and had a very douchebag comment but hey....love the band still.
11:58 AM on 02/21/10
#7
Chris Collum
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I'm shocked to see a review of this band on here, and very happy! They have been one of my favorites for awhile. "God Bless Your Black Heart" is still in my top 10 albums and on a healthy rotation. On a side-note, John emailed me to respond to my question of "why don't you tour in CA?" and had a very douchebag comment but hey....love the band still.
Yeah...I came to the Paper Chase party a little late, discovering this album first and going backwards from there. But they're great. John really does seem like an arrogant douche though.
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