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CD Review: 'Someday This Could All Be Yours (Vol. 1)' by Paper Chase

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Friday, June 19, 2009

THE PAPER CHASE

"Someday This Could All Be Yours (Vol. 1)"

Kindred spirits: King Crimson, Drive Like Jehu, Polyphonic Spree

Show: Monday at DC9. Show starts at 9 p.m. 202-483-5000. http://www.dcnine.com.

It's the end of the world, and the Paper Chase feels, well, not fine, but certainly vigorous. The alt-rock quartet's "Someday This Could All Be Yours (Vol. 1)" is a catalogue of disasters, rendered in a dynamic style that pits mastermind John Congleton's thin, wavering vocals against elaborate arrangements and intricate production.

The band's fifth album is a double shot of apocalypse, served with gusto. "Try to ignore that we're all aboard the Titanic," Congleton instructs in the opening "If Nobody Moves Nobody Will Get Hurt (The Extinction)." The perils are clearly biblical in their implications: "God is everywhere," chants Congleton in "What Should We Do With Your Body? (The Lightning)," while "The Small of Your Back the Nape of Your Neck (The Blizzard)" concludes with a chorus of "He's got the whole world in his hands." The music, with its lumbering tempos, clashing piano and jittery guitar, is not designed to be soothing.

Congleton is a noted producer whose clients include R. Kelly and the Polyphonic Spree, and he labored over this album. The results aren't always novel, but the album's principal flaw is that its appetite for disaster overwhelms its musical energy and inventiveness. The Paper Chase is planning a second volume of this project, which sounds like too much of an ominous thing.

-- Mark Jenkins


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