By Ann Treacy
It’s hard not to like a band that’s had a beer named after them. While Paper Days’ music stands on its own, a beer connection is never a bad thing. Day Block Brewing named an American Pale Ale after Paper Days last fall. An American Pale Ale is a good fit for a young, modern folk band. They started with six on stage, ended with ten and seemed to have at least two instruments for everyone. It was like a big melting pot with plenty of room for more hops. The music is easy to enjoy. The harmonies are solid. There’s something uplifting about the music, although sometimes in a veiled maybe cathartic way. “I Won’t Fall” has an almost spiritual feel. I’m not sure if it’s the choral start or the lyrics of learned strength; it’s the sort of song you could sing when you were feeling left alone but stronger for it. “Little Bird”, a song that’s getting air play on The Current, features the clear and steady voice of Madeline Ramirez. She has a lovely voice, and the harmony of the band contrasts nicely.
Then there are some songs that are faster paced like “Lately”, more country with hints of country-rock, rather than folks. With the full band and friends, there were even a few tunes, I’d call jazzy in line with a New Orleans funeral procession. More upbeat, yet again a spiritual or almost gospel or religious soul to the music.
Playing with Paper Days was The Heavy Set, which is more unabashedly Americana with country rhythm and country lyrics like – you spent the summer dancing in the rain while I spent mine circling the drain. Popular country sentiments – tried and true. They’re less spiritual more honky-tonk.
The Heavy Set also has a few songs getting air play on The Current (“Chance to Change” and “Eagles on the Ice”), which is a nice nod both to the bands and the strength of having radio stations that play local music.
The Heavy Set is a band that’s easy to enjoy but in a very different way Paper Days. Jake Ilika’s voice is strong, and the band is solid. They just have everything and hit every note you’d want – for example there’s a lap steel guitar. It’s the kind of music that makes you miss smoking in the bars – whether you smoke or not because they just have that grittier sound you could listen to all night.
It was a fun contrast to see the bands together, a sort of sweet and salty treat.