Tag Archives: Paper Hats

Review : William Tyler “Behold The Spirit” LP/CD (Tompkins Square, 2010)

william-tyler-behold-the-spiritWilliam Tyler has played on his fair share of notable indie albums.  You may have heard him on recordings by Lambchop, The Silver Jews, or as his own solo nom de plum, Paper Hats.  Behold The Spirit is not only Tyler’s first release under his given name, but is also his debut full-length for Tompkins Square, and probably one of the finest acoustic guitar records in that label’s catalog… for even though Tyler does his part to carry the American Primitive flag for the always Takoma-leaning NYC label, the Nashville-based guitarist is no mere copyist… his fresh sounding arrangements and confident, variegated technique prove him to be an intriguing picker in his own right.

I’ll dispense with some minor criticisms early: the “experimental” passages?  This has become something of a cliche at this point, hasn’t it?  It seems that no guitarist under the age of 40 can release an LP that doesn’t contain these sorts of generally indulgent, faceless interludes, and Tyler’s are no more or less interesting than most.  From a strategic perspective, I can see the logic in having a tangible connection to the thriving drone scene, as it can add considerably to one’s audience, and provide crucial performance and touring opportunities (see James Blackshaw’s recent US jaunt with Mountains)… and after all, more than a few of today’s finest young acoustic pickers have evolved out of exactly that scene… it’s just that on an otherwise compelling guitar record like Behold The Spirit, hazy, meandering tracks like “To The Finland Station” and “Signal Mountain” feel like little more than filler.

My other (intermittent) quibble with the record is the insistently ambient, room-mic’d production style, or rather, the fact that it occasionally swallows up the details in Tyler’s accomplished and nuanced playing.   Third track “Oashpe” begins with some very pretty chord changes, and these are definitely enriched by the dreamy sound… but when the guitar playing gains momentum in the pattern-picking section, it gets washed out by the ethereal production, resulting in the track feeling less urgent and less dynamic.  This isn’t always the case, though, and the imposed atmosphere is a nice setting for several of the tunes:  it adds some sonic distinction to a Fahey-esque composition like “Missionary Ridge”, which has Tyler searching, like so many before him, for that perfect front porch melody.  Do echo chambers even have a front porch?  Kidding! Continue reading

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Ben Reynolds November Tour

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Scottish guitarist Ben Reynolds is getting ready to embark on a quick US tour. We reviewed his Tompkins Square debut How Day Earnt Its Night not too long ago, and have since been spinning his Strange Attractors album Two Wings, which is equally good! We’re going to try to take some video at the Pittsburgh performance, so keep an eye out for that… and visit Reynolds’ Myspace page for updates on the TBA dates.

11/10 – Zebulon w/ Eric Carbonara, Mike Wexler, David Copenhafer
258 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn NY

11/11 – The Outpost w/ Eric Carbonara, Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, Mike Tamburo
186 1/2 Hampshire St, Cambridge MA

11/12 – The Appohadion w/ Mike Tamburo, Tom Kovacevic, Prisma
107 Hanover St, Portland ME

11/13 – The Spotty Dog w/ Mike Tamburo, Alex Turnquist
440 Warren St, Hudson NY

11/14 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo
Providence, RI

11/15 – BAR w/ Mike Tamburo
254 Crown St, New Haven CT

11/16 – Issue Project Room w/ Mike Tamburo
At The Old American Can Factory, 232 3rd Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn NY

11/17 – House show w/ Mike Tamburo, Eric Carbonara
4500 kingsessing Ave, Philadelphia PA

11/18 – Schlow Memorial Library w/ Mike Tamburo + others TBA
211 S. Allen St, State College PA

11/19 – Morning Glory Coffeehouse w/ Mike Tamburo
1806 Chislet St, Pittsburgh PA

11/20 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo, Nick Schillace
Detroit MI

11/21 – Skylab w/ Mike Tamburo
57 E Gay St, Columbus OH

11/22 – Hop Hop w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler
800 N. Limestone St, Lexington, KY

11/23 – Little Hamilton w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, The Paper Hats
1318 Little Hamilton Ave, Nashville TN

11/24 – Swan Dive w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Nathan Salsburg
921 Swan St, Louisville KY

11/25 – Heaven Gallery w/ Mike Tamburo
1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago IL