West Coast soft pop practitioners Papercuts are based around the skills of Jason Quever, a multi-instrumentalist and producer with a firm grasp on 50 years' worth of pop, whether it's indie, baroque, folk, or noise.
Whether working alone (as on early albums like 2007's Can't Go Back) or with collaborators (as on 2011's album for Sub Pop, Fading Parade), Quever's trademark sound blends echoing guitars and full arrangements with melancholy melodies and his faded whisper of a voice. It's a template used by many, but Quever's skill (as evidenced by his busy slate of studio work with the likes of Luna and Beach House) vaults Papercuts past most of their contemporaries, even when tweaking the formula, as on 2018's shoegaze-inspired Parallel Universe Blues.
Quever was brought up in a commune in Humboldt County, California. After both his parents' early deaths, he traveled alone up and down the West Coast before eventually settling in San Francisco. His musical career began when he used the apartment of a vacationing friend to record piano tracks for Cass McCombs' 2002 album, Not the Way. This was the start of a busy few years collaborating with others (like Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the Skygreen Leopards, and Vetiver) while also starting up Papercuts. The first Papercuts album, Mockingbird, was released in 2004, then Can't Go Back followed in 2007. It was released on the Gnomonsong label, run by Devendra Banhart and Vetiver's Andy Cabic, and in support of that record, Papercuts toured throughout the U.S. with Grizzly Bear.
Up to that point, Papercuts records were mainly solo Quever works recorded at his self-built Pan American home studio, but on 2009's You Can Have What You Want, Alex Scally of Beach House not only contributed bass, keyboards, and percussion, but also assisted with string arrangements and session engineering. The next Papercuts album took the collaborative spirit even further, with Quever using members of his live band (keyboardist David Enos, drummer Graham Hill, and bassist Frankie Koeller) as well as producer Thom Monahan to help record the road-tested songs. It was also the first Papercuts album to be recorded outside Pan American, as parts of it were tracked at the Hangar in Sacramento. It was also the band's Sub Pop debut, and the legendary label released the sprightly, more expansive Fading Parade in 2011.
After this, Quever put the band on the back burner and focused more attention on producing other artists. A few notable albums he worked on at this point were Donovan Quinn's Honky Tonk Medusa, Dean Wareham's Emancipated Hearts, and Eux Autres' Sun Is Sunk. He had also been working on another Papercuts album during this time, recording at Pan American with occasional guests like Graham Hill and a small string section. The resulting Life Among the Savages was released in May of 2014 for new labels Easy Sound in the U.S. and Memphis Industries in the U.K.
After a spot of touring, Quever again put the band on hold and moved behind the scenes to work on albums by the Mantles, Sugar Candy Mountain, Luna, and Beach House. He also moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, dismantling his home studio in the process. The next Papercuts album was recorded at Palmetto Studios in L.A. with minimal outside help, and found Quever stripping back the usual lush arrangements in favor of a shoegaze-inspired approach. Fittingly, the record, 2018's Parallel Universe Blues, was released by Slumberland Records, home to many great shoegaze and dream pop albums over the years. ~ Kenyon Hopkin & Tim Sendra, Rovi