Streaming Cafe

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paper Beat Scissors uses the hands and ears of Arcade Fire drummer & Snailhouse

by Malcolm Petch

By the time he appears at Streaming Café on March 17, Paper Beat Scissors’ new debut self titled album will have been released to the world for about 11 days. It’s very likely the world will have taken notice and will be streaming to the Streaming Café to take in his performance, so if you plan on going, you’d better get there early!!

Paper Beat Scissors, the performance name of Tim Crabtree, first played the café in September of 2011. It’s understating his impact to say that everyone in the room sat up and took notice when he played. One guy with a guitar and a loop pedal shouldn’t, by rights, be as captivating as Tim was; yet the whole room was quiet and attentive as PBS shared his songs with us. ‘Attentive’ isn’t even the right word – ‘anticipatory’ is probably a better description. Even the folks sitting on the cushy and soft low lounge chairs could easily be seen sitting right on the edge of their seats as Tim meandered through his touching and lyrical tunes.

And on top of it all, he was a great guy, too. His conversational presence as he chatted with the crowd between songs made us all feel welcome; we were getting to know him as he played. There was a strong sense in the room that Canada had come out on top by convincing Tim to move from his native England to a new home here with us.

Others have noticed, too, what a great guy and performer Paper Beat Scissors is; the online music blog HeroHill opens their article on Crabtree by saying: “I’m not sure there’s ever been a band we’ve covered on herohill that I wanted to see succeed more than Paper Beat Scissors…“ See? It’s not just us who have caught something of the essence of PBS.

Even in September there was a lot of talk in the air about PBS’s upcoming new album. Produced by Snailhouse (Mike Feuerstack – who played an amazing show at SC in October 2011), and mixed by Jeremy Gara (most known as the drummer for Arcade Fire), the album was creating ripples before it was even thrown in the pond. And when an official release date of March 6 was finally announced, lineups immediately started at record shops across the country. Okay, perhaps that part about the lineups is an exaggeration, but the truth is that virtually everyone who’d ever heard PBS was happy to hear a release date for the album had finally been set. At long last people who loved his music would be able to have it with them to listen to whenever they wanted. (And if you still can’t wait, you can peruse and procure the live recordings we made with Paper Beat Scissors the last time Tim played Streaming Café. Or you could pick up his debut EP Flicker).

Tim’s music has been described as “solo finger-picked laments”, which is simply one characterization among many which could be applied. The best way to describe it, if you’re not already familiar with the music of Paper Beat Scissors, is to say it’s different than you’d expect – and the best way to understand it is to simply find some of it online somewhere and just enjoy it.

And when you’ve done that, it’ll probably be time to get in line at Streaming Café so you make it in to hear PBS on March 17th before the café’s full and you’re barred at the door, forced to stand outside, craning your neck to get a view through the window. Stand outside and hope for a flicker, or make it inside and rest your bones. Your choice. Or you can watch/listen online, of course…


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