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Paper Moon / Leslies - Intercontinental Pop Exchange No. 2

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 30 / 1 / 2004

Paper Moon / Leslies - Intercontinental Pop Exchange No. 2
Label: Ipx2
Format: CDS


Excellent second instalment in Endearing Records' Intercontinental Pop Exchange series which pairs together Sweden’s Leslies with Canada's Paper Moon

The second instalment in The Intercontinental Pop Exchange pairs together southern Sweden’s Leslies with Paper Moon who hail from Winnipeg in Canada. The actual idea behind these EPs is to bring together two bands from different countries who share a similar musical outlook so that if you’re already a fan of one of the bands then by checking out the EP you will hopefully also appreciate the music of the other band. It’s a cool idea and one that works well if the coupling on this EP is a sign of future releases. There are three tracks from both bands. The Paper Moon tracks are from various stages of their career (the band released their debut record in 2001). Now reduced to a three piece comprising of Allison Shevernoha (vocals, electric guitar), Chris Hiebert (drums and occasional guitar) and Rob Rodgers (bass and guitar) a couple of the earlier songs on this EP also feature former members Heather Campbell (keyboards on ‘I Hope It’s Something Good’) and Bob Somers ( bass on ‘Volcano’). That would make the remaining track, ‘Falling’, the newest by my reckoning. Now, I’m a sucker for any band that plays guitar based indie pop with female vocals so I’m biased when it comes to the three songs by Paper Moon. I just love the bittersweet energy of those guitars offset with the cute but edgy sound of the female voice. “Altered Images” someone said to me when hearing ‘Falling’, the first track on this EP, for the first time. No, Shevernoha’s vocals have that cute sound but they are certainly not twee like those of Clare Grogan. A more suitable reference would be Frente!, an often overlooked Australian band that made at least one great album in ‘Marvin The Album’ in the mid 90's and who also combined great tunes with that indie pop flavour but had some substance to their songs. It’s Shevernoha’s vocals which make these three songs really shine and make them stand out from the competition. They sound familiar but have an emotional edge which is missing from a lot of female fronted bands which are also producing this strain of pop music. For my money, the slower paced final track, ‘I Hope It’s Something Good’, is the best of the three songs. It shows another side to the band, a heartbreaking tale of lovers breaking up on Christmas Eve then meeting up on the same day five years later. The vocals are emotive, the best over these three tracks, and the strings and subtle backing add to the atmosphere. It’s absolutely stunning and enough to make one want to immediately check out the band's back catalogue. I don’t envy any band having to follow that song but Kristianstad’s Leslies do the job well. This five piece band has a complimentary musical style to that of their EP band mates but with vocals this time courtesy of Tony Ivarsson (who also provides the band with lyrics) and jangly guitars being the order of the day this music recalls the Smiths at their best. It’s an easy comparison, I know, but there is also enough of the bands own identity stamped on these three songs to make them worth investigating. The songs are very melodic, and show that the band can handle both slow songs and the more rock based ones with ease. As with Paper Moon, the band save the slowest song of the three, ‘Slightest Idea’ as their closing track. And again, it’s the best song of the ones they offer here. Ivarsson’s vocals are particularly strong here and the solid and catchy sound the band gets from their guitars is common to all the songs. The guitar playing by Martin Berndtsson and Martin Engvall is the first thing one notices, in fact. The guitar break in the first song, ‘In A Matter Of Speaking’, is outstanding. It’s the kind of guitar riff you just want to go on and on. Perhaps the strongest point about the band is that they sound like they have played these songs for years. They have been in existence for around 10 years now and it shows in their playing, in the way the band gels together. Full marks to Endearing Records for this series, as I said at the beginning it does what it sets out to do. I, for one, will certainly be seeking out future and past release by both bands. For lovers of guitar based indie pop this is an essential purchase.

Track Listing:-
1 Paper Moon Falling
2 Paper Moon Volcano
3 Paper Moon I Hope It's Something Good
4 Leslies In A Matter Of Speaking
5 Leslies Brave Ones
6 Leslies Slightest Idea

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