Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Paul Kerschen-The Pacific Theater

May 1, 2006

paulkerschenBand Name: Paul Kerschen

Album Name: The Pacific Theater
Best Element: Well-crafted songwriting
Genre: Pop
Website: www.paulkerschen.com
Label Name: Byzantine Records

Band E-mail: k@metameat.net

Home-recorded releases usually work really well with acoustic-based pop. The relative quiet of the acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric guitar makes it a perfect fit for smaller recording systems, as bands like Marc with a C, Novi Split, and ReedKD have discovered. That’s why Paul Kerschen’s The Pacific Theater is so immensely odd- this home-recorded album is split between electric-guitar power-pop and downer acoustic-pop, and it’s actually the power-pop that fares better here.

Kerschen’s power-pop sound is brash and forward- leaving no room for subtleties, he spits slightly off-color syllables in a hyperactive voice in highlight tracks such as “Les Jeunes Rimbauds” and “Chupacabras”. The instrumental backing matches the vocals- quick, choppy, and straightforward. The songwriting is quite good- cut down to the bone, the stark accompaniment provides a very arresting listening experience.

That’s the problem with much of the acoustic-based material on this album- the songs are cut down to their bare minimums so effectively that the only things holding them together are the musical frameworks and the off-and-on vocals. The vocals, when slowed down from their hyperkinetic rate in the power-pop songs, are a sketchy affair, ranging from annoying (“Lullaby”) to overpowering (“Six Times Before Breakfast”, “Golden Gate”) to perfectly matched (“Your Angel”). It seems that Kerschen is capable of writing a solid melody and pulling off a good performance, but for some reason many of these tracks don’t get the excellent vocal treatment they deserve.

Easily the best track here is closer “All My Life”, which features some great lyrics, a doo-wop feel, and a long outro that grows to epic proportions. It’s easily the most accessible track, and even though the vocal performance is a little clunky, the sheer talent of the songwriting redeems the track.

Paul Kerschen knows how to write good songs- this much is easily evident from The Pacific Theater. Whether his voice is solid enough to be fronting these well-crafted songs is a question that isn’t answered in this album- his future releases will provide the final word on that. At the moment, this is an average pop album by a songwriter who has the potential to achieve a whole lot.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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