Released by A&M Records
Thanks (or no thanks) to such artists as Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, when the term “rap-rock fusion” is thrown into the cosmos, it conjures some less than awesome ideas of what it means a lot of the time. Rage Against The Machine did a lot to give the people something (finally) awesome to think about when the hybrid genre is thought about and Paper Tongues definitely carries that torch. And while we’re using this rap-rock motif, if Rage is a “rockier” extension of Public Enemy, then Paper Tongues would be a “rockier” extension of someone like K-OS. They’re versatile, can have fun and can also dig deep. The vocals, sung by Aswan North, are simply great. Rhythmically, there is definitely a lot of hip-hop influence but here’s the thing: he’s not trying to rap. A sense of singing and feeling is what is emphasized and it shines through. On their self-titled Paper Tongues, the Charlotte, North Carolina band isn’t trying to force any type of sound. Ranging from dance and dark to near “VH1-friendly,” they actually never sound out of place or like they are uncomfortable. Even when the radio smash-material songs emerge, the words are never expendable (which is always refreshing). Their lyrics even have rap sensibilities at times (such as on “Rich and Poor” where you’ll hear words such as “peeps” and “thuggin’”) but over roaring guitars and down-to-business drums, it works. Paper Tongues is not a gimmicky, flash in the pan band out to please the top 20 countdowns but as fate would have it, they sound like they would be equally welcome on both the charts of the masses and the playlists of the musically savvy.
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