Dream Setlist: The Paper Kites

Dream Setlist: The Paper Kites

 

It is no secret that the RPM family has an undeniable love and appreciation for Aussie music. With this week’s Dream Setlist, Al Pash explores the discography of Melbourne dream rockers The Paper Kites. Read to see if your concert fantasies align:

 

Melbourne has the privilege of claiming The Paper Kites as its own, a band that’s been forging new musical paths for almost a decade! With their two most recent album releases, On the Train Ride Home and On the Corner Where You Live, the group continues to make waves in the indie folk-rock realm, while at the same time staying true to their sonic roots.

A few key words & phrases come to mind when trying to illustrate the moods and messages The Paper Kites encompass: anguish, neon depression, electric heartbreak, emotional, delicate, innocently beguiling. Given the aesthetic of their album art and music videos, I’m willing to wager that these descriptors aren’t far off from the band’s intention either. In order to best encapsulate these sentiments, I’d like to bring your imaginations to Paris’ Sainte Chapelle. I think the fragile elegance of this space symbolizes the emotions that the music illicits; the melancholic contemplation of the endless rainstorm in your heart.

 

Saint Chappelle, Paris. Source: Trover.com

 

You take your seats in the pews, the chandeliers dim, and the Paper Kites take the pulpit. Let the show begin…

Intro: “A Gathering On 57th”

This is an instrumental track that perfectly embodies the tone needed for the evenings environment. You can hear train tracks layered behind a bright piano and a bluesy saxophone. There always seems to be a slight sense of hopelessness that resonates in their music, and I feel that it’s important to lay this foundation for our audience.

 

1. “Electric Indigo”

The Paper Kites - Electric Indigo (Official Music Video)

For almost any other concert, I would want to start out with a high-tempo tune that gets the crowd moving; however, that is absolutely not the style of The Paper Kites. Not that they don’t inspire movement, but the energy they build is subtle, like slowly intensifying coals in the pit of a fire. Their discography doesn’t include many upbeat tracks, so organizing this setlist in a way that maintains the right dispositions but still inspires forward momentum is key. I didn’t want to open the show with this one, as it is one of my all-time favorites that I would have wanted to save for later (soft masochism), but we needed something that would paint the air blue. This one does the trick, and a beautiful trick at that.

 

2. “On the Corner Where You Live”

This would be the right time to loosen up the crowd and pick up the pace. The opening drum roll, driving bass, and electrifying riff instigate a slow left-to-right head sway and a firm grasp to your chest, almost as if you are trying to contain your heart from falling forward. The lyric “Nothing’s gonna take you baby/ Nothing’s gonna take you know” conveys a glimmer of stability and comfort, a mood soon to be challenged by upcoming tunes.

 

3. “Red Light”

Source: Instagram.com/thepaperkties

 

The similarities between the guitar tones of this piece prolong the spirit of the previous tune. This song takes you by the hand and sits you down for a soothing chat. It doesn’t require the crowd to expend much energy, but rather lets the audience trust fall into its comforting arms.

 

4. “Woodland”

Throwing it back to a sweet ditty from the Woodland EP, this tune rests well with the loyal fanbase. The next phase of our set reflects back to previous work, which will help sustain the nostalgia amongst and within the crowd. Woodland is a youthful tune by nature that plays well to the ear. There’s a care-free, almost whimsical sense that takes you on a skip through the woods with your best friends. It reminds me of themes from Bridge to Terabithiaand illustrates a similar mental space for our childlike hearts to dance in for a while.

 

5. “Paint”

Sorry to squash our cheery sentiments, but to continue down the throwback trail, I had to place this tune next. For a very brief time during my Freshman year I was training to be an avid poet…my ventures didn’t pan out, but I was graced by this tune, which often proved to be a perfect soundtrack for writing inspiration. I would play it on repeat for hours at a time, sitting with the sounds, letting them seep into my fibers. It keeps to the theme, and adds a nice cushion in the set.

 

6. “Featherstone”

The Paper Kites - Featherstone (Official Music Video)

 

“Featherstone” is the cherry on top of our run of throwbacks. The “ooh”‘s during the outro of the chorus perpetuate the childhood splendor, blanketing the audience with warm colors.

 

7. “Standing In The Rain”

This is proving to be emotional whiplash, as I am veering off the path of positivity once again, and heading towards more gloomy thoughts. The lyric “Crying when your heart seems to break/ It’s meant to feel that way” obliterates any barrier that was keeping your tears locked behind your eyes. The acoustic guitar brings despair, while the hope-dwindling vocals brings agony to the soul of the listener, placing us “in the rain” of a personal struggle. This set is about conveying the blue in life, wading in its pool, and giving yourself the time to feel what you need to feel in order to overcome whatever strifes you’ve experienced.

 

8. “Arms”

This slow, soft, folky tune is a simple arrangement of acoustic guitar and vocals, with lyrical content that reminds me of a pretty Irish love song. Lead singer, Sam Bentley, serenades the listeners with sweet sentiments singing, “What can I give that is all for you?/My heart’s no good ’cause it’s split in two/ What can I give that is all for you?/These arms are all I have.” There seems to be a reoccurring theme across the board of The Paper Kite’s songbook: loving someone that doesn’t love you back, or failing to reciprocate the love that someone has for you. This song sounds like the color red to me, so it keeps us hanging in the warm aura just a short while longer.

 

9. “Between the Houses”

Between the Houses

Another song that fits the aura mentioned above is “Between the Houses.” Much of their poetic lyrical content is almost cryptic, and requires extremely attentive listening in order to gather the message. With this tune on the other hand, there is a clear setting and character to follow, which humanizes the piece and offers the audience a new listening perspective.

 

10. “Flashes”

Rarely in my experience has a band encapsulated sadness through song as well as The Paper Kites. There’s something to be said about creating a cognitive perimeter where you can wonder slowly with your own introspections. Music bridges the connection between our feelings and thoughts, and allows us to fully surrender to this experience. “Flashes” is the battle for our darkest of days, encouraging the listener to keep the faith.

 

11. “A Silent Clause”

One Song.One Take: The Paper Kites - A Silent Cause

The harmonies of this tune let us listen from a new vantage point, giving our hearts a little rest from despair, and instead illicit feelings of hopeless romanticism. The chorus professes “I don’t want to love/ I want to learn you/ But I’d love to know you well.” The acoustic arpeggiations make you feel as if you’re in the room while this song was being written. It feels as though you are watching an old film of this story being projected on a sheet draped across the wall like your own, lonely viewing party.

 

12. “Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain”

Easily one of my top five Paper Kites songs, and top twenty all time favorites. The engineering of the drums, specifically the kick in the beginning intrudes your personal space, entitled to every margin in the cavity of your chest. The key changes that occur between the verses and chorus, and the final key change during the building bridge makes this one of the most dynamic tunes in their entire musical portfolio. A few short lived guitar solos peak out during transitions, turning our audible landscape into a sunrise of vibrant color.

 

The Paper Kites - Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain (Official Music Video)

 

13. Outro: “A Gathering on 57th”

Although this piece commenced our concert, I love the idea of a set coming full circle. Ending again with the jazzy sax and clarity of the piano gives the audience a moment of closure. Perhaps a much needed moment for us all to pick our fallen hearts off the floor, and re-absorb the tears that have dampened our cheeks.

 

Encore:

 

14. “Deep Burn Blue”

One of the hottest tracks of the album On the Corner Where You Live follows a storyline of mental illness, depression specifically, and the pitfalls of having to learn how to mend your brokenness. One of my all time favorite Paper Kites lyric resides in this tune: “Time alone means nothing if you can’t escape the hurt you’re feeling”. An undeniably astonishing turn of a phrase, that couldn’t be musically depicted in a more honest and accurate way.

 

15. “Tenenbaum” (Featuring Lennon Stella)

On a personal level, “Tenenbaum” was the tune that helped me through a difficult stage of a break-up. Again, it was one of those tunes that built a house for my thoughts and feelings to live, while I wanted to still feel the familiar walls of the relationship I was losing. I was able to soak in the appropriate amount of self-victimization and pity needed to head in the direction of closure. Nashville-based dance/electronic artist, Lennon Stella lended her chilling vocals to a rendition of this track. She has a beautiful rasp that allows her to nail every voice-break and vocal riff. She’s stunningly talented, and seeing this collaboration live would be a privilege.

 

The Paper Kites - Tenenbaum (Live Session) featuring Lennon Stella

 

16. “Revelator Eyes”

Okay folks, the time has come for my number one Paper Kites song. I had to save it for this moment, only as a cruel tease to myself. The passion I have for this song is downright silly, but every music enthusiast has there little treasure box of musical gems. This is my sapphire crystal – priceless. The beginning instrumentals are chronologically introduced in away that sounds like a waterfall gaining momentum after a hard rainfall. First we get the chiming synths that fall into that steady drum beat with an immaculately mixed snare. All these additions eventually lead to the most highlighted instrument of the entire track: the bass! Wow, doest that line drive the song, or what? So much goodness it’s almost unfathomable. I’ve always been a sucker for 1/16th note bass lines, and will continue to welcome them into my ear drums like a forever friend.  The final sprinkle of magic in this tune is the guitar solo after the final chorus. The Paper Kites have an extremely identifiable guitar tone they use across most of their work, and we get to hear it shine during the closure of this track. I don’t believe my words will ever fully justify my affection for this tune. It’s compelling grip clutched me, and has never let go.

 

The Paper Kites - Revelator Eyes (Official Music Video)

 

17. “On the Train Ride Home”

I have to end this set with what I claim to be the saddest, most desperate song by The Paper Kites. When the album On the Train Ride Home was released last year, I was happily greeted with familiar sounds; however, this tune was different. Not in sonics, but in sentiments. The start of the song transports the listener to a lifeless train station- a barren location, leaving you lonely and detached from human contact. Listening from the perspective of the singer, we can hear sorrow in every word sung, hinting at the individuals state of isolation. I hate leaving audience with this dreary feeling, but this intense anguish has a spirit of its own. It asserts itself in your atmosphere, forcing you to feel. There is an undeniable beauty in this experience, when a piece of art can debilitate your free-will, persuading you to surrender yourself to the music. At that point, you are a paralyzed by emotion, floating in a moment.

 

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