Review: The Paperhead, Start the Bus

1st February 2015

WHL_5427I’m not sure what they were putting in infants milk in the 1990s but whatever it was it seems to have birthed a generation of psychedelic bands (see Tame Impala, Temples, Toy etc) that owe much more to the trippy-ness of Timothy Leary era San Francisco than the drone and bass of more modern electronic genres.

While the sound and flavour of this re-emerging genre are familiar, its proponents are a far more serious bunch. The Paperheads bassist Peter Stringer-Hye for example certainly looks like he’s doing calculus in his head rather than drifting off into a peyote fuelled frenzy, as he wears a furrowed brow throughout.

The Nashville psy-rockers have also left behind much of the pomp and ceremony that one would associate with such soundscapes. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it does feel somewhat at odds with their jaunty and theatrical melodies and lyrics.

Here following up on the release of their third album Africa Avenue, The Paperhead live performance recollects a band just jamming in their garage, so relaxed and nonchalant as they are on stage. Perhaps this shouldn’t be such a surprise given that they recorded the album themselves in bassist Peter Stringer-Hye’s Nashville garage.


As a a live entity their sound is also shorn of some of the interesting and varied sounds that underpin the recorded versions of their songs. ‘Eye for Eye’ for example is certainly lacking without it ghostly effect drenched child choir.

Title track ‘Africa’ is a catchy and amusing tune that helps the set off to a strong start, but the middle feels a little underwhelming and muddled – a fact that is not  aided by the slow drift of the crowd away to their Sunday night slumbers. Songs blur into one another with little differentiation.

From browsing The Paperheads back catalogue there’s certainly more here than is on show tonight but factors have conspired to work against on this particular night.

Turn on, Tune in, but don’t drop out just yet.


By Kevin McGough
All photos by Will Fahy