Paris Falls, Reverse Mirror Image

Paris Falls, Reverse Mirror Image

There’s something very, very cool about actually getting to hear a band growing up, in the process of finding and evolving and tweaking their particular sound. And believe it or not, it’s a pretty rare thing, at least in the modern, rarefield realm of indie labels and low-to-the-ground bands, where bands come and go like different sets of clothes the musicians put on and take back off again after an album or two. Before a band can even really find its footing, it collapses, everybody going off to side projects or leaving town or something. There’s never enough time to watch the band grow.

I think that’s partly why I enjoy the hell out of every album Paris Falls puts out. Reverse Mirror Image is #4 in as many years (and the first to not just be labeled Paris Falls [Insert Roman Numeral Here]) and even in that relatively short span, you can listen from one album to the next and hear what sure sounds like an evolution.

Paris Falls I saw the band at its bluesiest and scrappiest, all bitterness and rough-edged chords, while Paris Falls II and III had the band branching out into more overtly ’60s-ish psych-rock territory, coming off like David Gilmour-driven Pink Floyd; things slowed down and got more mellow/melancholy, and yet, the band still made it work. They made the music still sound like “Paris Falls” throughout.

Now, with Reverse Mirror Image, that same evolution continues, albeit into territory that’s a bit unfamiliar for the band, at least on their albums. I was flat-out stunned the first time I heard the gentle, McCartney-esque pop that rolls through most of Image, especially on “Civilized” or “Sway,” but once I got over the shock of it, I was (and still am) impressed with how far they’ve come. Ray Brown’s voice still sounds nicely rough, with that near-trademark bitter, half-melodic smile evidenced on “Song Number One” and “Big Surprise,” but he’s tempered it somewhat, it sounds like.

There’s a heck of a pop influence going on, more than I’d really noticed before with these folks, with echoes of the aforementioned Paul McCartney and his erstwhile bandmates, plus Elvis Costello and David Bowie. Early single “Big Surprise” is kind of in that camp, as is the friendly-yet-defiant album closer “You.”

On top of that, Image is easily the band’s most sophisticated release in terms of production, with a surprising number of layers to the overall sound, gentle washes of guitar sound, a very “clean” feel, and arrangements that can breathe some and unfold slowly. For the first time, I found myself really-and-truly trying to listen to the lyrics, rather than just letting ’em float by and catching what I could. Everything sounds warm and retro, but it’s still smoothed-out and clean.

The result is tracks like “Sway,” which is a bit like a low-key, minimalist White Stripes song done Beatles-style. It’s gentle and tumbling, rolling down the road with an insistent, bluesy shuffle, with Jack White-gone-British Invasion vocals, gorgeous backing/duet vocals from Jen Brown, and an understated string section. It’s a great, close-to-the-chest, melancholy little rumination, and it’s beautiful. (Side note to the band: let Jen sing more often, okay? Seriously, y’all.) Listen to it back-to-back with “Hazard Street Bridge,” off Paris Falls I, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a completely different band.

Actually, scratch that — that part’s not true. Because even though the band’s branching out here, trying their hand at songs like “Handle,” with its introductory hip-hop drums, fuzzy synths, and sleaze-metal guitar lines, they’ve managed to hold tight to their identity. Take “Zero For A Day,” for another example, where the Paris Falls crew (which consists of Ray and Jen Brown and drummer Mike Deleon, by the way) meld a delicate, folk-bluesy structure to an awesomely raw jam; there’re moments in that “Tomorrow Never Knows” guitar haze that seriously remind me of “Home,” the first song I ever even heard of the band.

Image is still Paris Falls — it’s just the revised, older-and-wiser Paris Falls, Paris Falls 3.0, where the band’s realized that they can turn down a little, sing a little more softly, and stil make some amazingly cool music. Here’s to watching the evolution roll on.

[Paris Falls is playing its CD release show 1/15/11 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Airon P. Dugas & The Religion, Young Girls, & DJ Psychedelic Sex Panther.]
(Paper Weapons Records -- 3007 Honeysuckle St., Rosharon, TX. 77583; http://paperweaponsrecords.com/; Paris Falls -- http://www.myspace.com/parisfalls)
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Review by . Review posted Saturday, January 15th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Paris Falls, Reverse Mirror Image

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Paris Falls (Reviewed!) + The Suspects + Girls Rock Camp Benefit + Javelin + Featherface + More on January 15th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    […] Paris Falls (CD release)/A.P. Dugas & The Religion (final show!)/Young Girls/DJ Psychedelic Sex Panther @ Fitzgerald’s It’s hard to pick a winner out of everything going on this evening, but this one comes real damn close… Been listening a lot lately to Paris Falls‘ brand-new full-length, Reverse Mirror Image, and it’s pretty awesome, a step in a different direction from the previous Vols. I-III trilogy. Maybe it’s because I remember drummer Mike Deleon from the Beatles-loving Jinkies back in the day, but it feels somehow very appropriate that the Paris Falls crew should be veering towards Paul McCartney more than anything else these days. (I think, anyway.) Got a full review up over here. […]

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