THE PAPER KITES – At The Roundhouse (Nettwerk Records)

At The RoudhouseThe Paper Kites’ At The Roundhouse is country folk-rock album that burns a sad neon light into any damp and foggy late Sunday night reverie — when Friday is gone; Saturday night is a lost warm memory; and this music hangs as the hopeful tether to any weekend’s big final electric guitar chord and the taste of a vaguely remembered whiskey whatever conversation with a bourbon whatever unexpected bar friend, whose eyes predicted those sad neon lights and the certain damp and foggy Sunday future.

This music, with a slow and melodic blood drawn pulse, sings a deep lonely song of humanity with songs that drip with a late-night summer rain, lost in pensive weekend thoughts.

Yeah, it’s a magical recording, born out of the band’s spiritual urge to transform what “used to be a gold mining supply store” that barely “survived a fire in 1876” in the town of Cambells Creek (140 km from Melbourne!) into “a living, breathing venue”, that’s “a combination of all the greatest dive bars you’d even been to, late-night watering holes, smoky taverns, {and} biker bars”.

Then, musical presto! The band played Friday and Saturday nights – unannounced and for free to an ever-growing local crowd of hip music lovers. Hence, the title: Live At The Roundhouse. Sure, it’s not Big Pink, but it’s a pretty close Catskill musket shot memory, all the way from The Paper Kites’ native “small town talk” of Victoria, Australia.

The album begins as David Powy’s lap steel and Josh Bentley’s percussion sing with a warm surf sunrise. Then, Sam Bentley’s soft soul country-warm vocals (with Christina Lacy’s harmony!) dance a dream in ‘Midnight Moon’. And any eclipse slows its pulse with ‘Till The Flame Turns Blue”. There’s a Robbie Roberson-like guitar bit, with yet another soulful (sort of) Van Morrison vocal delivery, and a wonderous trip through a musical cosmos, that’s grounded with the sympathetic bass guitar of Sam Rasmussen. Then, ‘Black & Thunder’ grooves with a Fleetwood Mac ‘Rhianna’ vibe. Nothing wrong with that.

As my friend, Kilda Defnut, always says, “Really decent crossroad ghosts write eternal rock ‘n’ roll songs”.

Sure. But that drama of the universe slows with ‘Marietta’, as time is stretched and beauty deepened. The song is a portrait of a patient melody with a soaked tempera blues vibed emotion. And, thankfully, ‘Rolling On Easy’ continues with a smooth acoustic glide onto a safe song landing.

And then, ‘Hurts So Good’ serves up a late-night banjo-infused redemption that dances with any “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”.

Of course, there’s more slow-stepped (to quote Bernie Taupin!) “country comfort”. ‘Burning The Night Away’ drips with the quiet beauty of a gently flamed candle. ‘Good Night Gone’ oozes with a smooth touch that evokes The Eagles in a blissful sweet desert thought that provides a comfortable sofa seat in the venerable Roundhouse former gold-mining supply store. Thankfully, the song somehow escaped from the mysterious confines of that “lovely place”, known from its eternal radio spin as Hotel California, from which (as we all know!) “You can never leave”. And the same is true for the smooth melodic vibe of ‘Maria, It’s Time’ and the pensive ‘Green Valleys’, because as said in great music, “some dance to remember”, while others (of course!) “dance to forget”. And that rock ‘n’ folk roll wisdom, perhaps, is some sort of an obscure cousin’s nod to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Sure, again. But then in a really nice juxtaposition, ‘June’s Stolen Car’ rocks with a psych folk-rock punch and recalls The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, or (even) Barclay James Harvest, circa Everyone Is Everybody Else. This one tickles the brain synapses with an archetypal “back to the garden” vinyl grooved neuron tipped buzz.

The slender threaded gentle touch continues. ‘The Sweet Sound Of You’ is yet another blissful sweet desert thought, with a lap steel serenade. This is great music that doesn’t need that eternal radio airplay. And the big lonesome echo of ‘Don’t Want To Go That Way’ stares into the distant stars of any western sky. This is deep and dreamy stuff. Then, ‘Mercy’, once again, is a slow promenade that is drenched in emotive vocals and gentle lap steel guitar.

The pace quickens as the acoustic guitar pulsed ‘Pocket Full Of Rain’ is a delightful glance at the music of The Pure Prairie League who sweetened the radio waves of the world with the immortal words, “Amie what you wanna do?”

Of course, as any good universe is always certain to sing, “I think I could stay in love with you/For a while maybe longer if I do”.


The final song, ‘Darkness At My Door’, is a nice up-tempo Roundhouse round-up with a big triumphant chorus,  gospel soul, and a wondrous guitar solo that has “the weight” and sad drama of that whiskey whatever conversation with a bourbon whatever unexpected bar friend, in the always casual “greatest dive bars you’d ever been to”, as this music stares into the cosy neon light that illuminates any cold rainy night in a desperate need of an old gold mining store as it just happens to be filled by those “really decent crossroad ghosts” with their warm and always welcoming country folk-rock music.

Bill Golembeski

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