Papa Vs. Pretty are a band who are mentioned about 100 times a day on local radio (because they play everywhere), always supporting mind-blowing artists (including The Temper Trap, who I blogged gushed about on Friday) and constantly being flaunted in street press. So there comes a point in time where any self-respecting journalist says ‘What’s the deal with these guys, and how come I’ve never seen them play?’
Thanks to the open arms of the Annandale Hotel’s ludicrously fun My Filthy Riot, I got to see PvP rock out in a room traditionally reserved for poker machines. By that I mean, it was full of fucking pokies except instead of compulsive gamblers there were trendy young people and a band sweating it out on a makeshift stage. I have never been so impressed by an unsigned act in my life. Ok, lie. I still really love Newcastle’s dream-pop, multi-instrumentalist Seabellies, but seeing these guys was a similar epiphany. It’s like I had a secret that nobody else knew about, except that all the people in the room eat cigarettes for breakfast and like, totally know that the guy from Van She is sleeping with the girl from Potbelleez. Bad example. What that means is, I’m on the out, because I spend too much time watching crap NERD gigs instead of seeing local shit.
Now here’s the rub; Papa Vs. Pretty are really, really young. I’m not sure of the exact age, but I’m guessing they’re still doing HSC, which means they unfortunately get lumped in with the ‘bright young stars’ movement already teeming with the likes of Bridezilla (recently finished school) and Ghostwood (no, we don’t care either). But the similarities stop there, primarily because somebody in the PvP family tree presumably sat frontman Thomas Rawle down when he was a wee lad and gave him one of those important life lectures in ‘Never pretending to be somethin’ yer not.’ The result is that there are no 15 minute, epic soundscape ‘check out how good my navel looks from this angle’ tunes here; just proper rock tracks and great performance. Back in the pokie room (yes, I time-jump alot), Thomas gyrates and attacks his guitar like he’s seen the ghost of Jimi Hendrix and been posessed. This is, essentially, a kid, and he and his band have more stage presence than people twice their age.
Now for the plug. We don’t usually accept solicited mail from bands, seeing as we have plenty of music to choose from ourselves. But when Thomas emailed me and asked me to have a listen to this track, I happily obliged, not only because it’s unreleased but also because he wants opinion on it, and anybody who genuinely values peer judgment is OK by me. Arrestem is a track that grows on you, and then kind of takes over your body. It’s got keyboards that don’t sound like they’re stolen from the 80s, some phenomenal sampling that is totally out of a Missy Elliot single and it manages to become what brother D terms ‘Five songs in one’ without you even noticing. I’ll admit it’s rather ominous in the first minute, but then those brilliant falsetto vocals hit and you’ve got the circus organ and floor toms and I honestly think I’m hearing a new Fall Out Boy single; it’s that precise bizarre/catchy combination that just works. Thomas tells me he sings, plays guitar and piano, and listening to this I don’t doubt it. However old they are, wherever they’re going, I want to follow them, because this is seriously smart music. Listen to the whole song through and then tell me it isn’t sweet-as. Or just come to our house; it’s playing on two computers right now.
Enjoy the fruits of the group’s labour, then visit the Myspace and show some love.
And don’t be like me – go to local gigs. They’re so much more fun than stadiums anyway.
Papa Vs. Pretty – ‘Arrestem’