So a couple months ago I invted New Haven's Paper Hill Casket Company to come up to Hartford and play one of our Live & Local shows. I was not fully prepared for how awesome this band was going to be in the live setting. They announced at this show that they were putting the finishing touches on their debut album. I have been waiting with baited breath ever since and I'm here to tell you that this album was absolutely worth the wait.
Paper Hill Casket Company describes themselves on their Bandcamp page as a "Gothic Americana" band. The description is pretty fitting. At its core, their debut album Undertow, is rock infused bluegrass music. But these guys have more rhythm and are less aggressive than a band like Uncle Tupelo. They are also less frantic and spastic than a band like New London's Can Kickers. But they are not far from the same branch of the musical tree that those bands sprouted from. There are definite punk elements present but they are subtle at best, usually taking a backseat to the toe-tapping rhythms this band produces on practically every song.
This band has done well to create a very unique sound, seamlessly blending genres in the most unpretentious of ways. Banjo and electric guitar are allowed to coexist without canceling each other out completely. Fiddle and drums are both used as accompaniment in the best possible ways. The vocals are a perfect match for the sounds being created behind them and the lyrics are dark. Even on the lightest of tunes they still speak of loss, heartbreak and despair. All of this together gives the listener a delicious earful of sounds from as far away as the folk music of Ireland to the worlds of country blues and indie folk. There is not a bad song on this album and after four or five listens straight through I still don't find myself even close to hitting the 'forward' button on any track.
Fans of Neko Case, The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Wax Museum, Phosporescent and even The Charlie Daniels Band need to sit up and take notice of these guys immediately.