The Painted Light LP from Paper Cameras has been a long time coming and well worth the wait. The lo-fi polyphonic soundscape is full of ethereal harmonies reminiscent of the 90’s garage influenced rock scene that veteran Portland musician Michael Carothers helped form. The history of Paper Cameras began in 2005, when Carothers (Spectator Pump/All The Dead Horses/The Glib) conceived the project and began writing songs. Three years later, the E.P. “Lost Weekend” was born. The E.P. was recorded with longtime friend, Nashville’s Jerry Wayne Campbell (Spider Virus/Millionaire Magicians) and producer Sean Flora (Black Keys/Shins/Stephen Malkmus).
About the album, the band comments:
“As flowery as this may sound, the process of tracking these songs felt more like painting than playing once it all was said and done. Everyone took all the riffs and lyrical ideas I had and treated them like found art. We never had a single “band” practice before loading into Jackpot Studios, I wanted to leave more to chance than I ever had before. We ended up with the the most pop forward record I had ever been a part of creating. Even on a cloudless day, light is constantly changing or developing.”
The following years Carothers took a brief hiatus from songwriting to open the successful Japanese restaurant, Miho Izakaya and spent the next half decade keeping sake flowing and quietly writing songs in his few spare hours. In 2014, with a renewed musical focus he sold his stake in Miho Izakaya and bought a Tascam 8 track cassette recorder and began new material with longtime friend, Portland musician Nathan Junior (Dandy Warhols, The Early Stuff, M. Ward, Duover, Sea Wolf) and artist and taxidermist Little Debbie Bartling sharing time behind the mic with Nathan Junior. The result was The Easy Wolves Sessions, a lo-fi mix of bubblegum psych pop. Later, in 2016 Nathan Junior and Carothers recorded the E.P. Mars Was Yesterday with producer Adam Selzer (Decemberists/Peter Buck/M. Ward/ Fleet Foxes) at Type Foundry Studios where Carothers’ vision began to take on an identity reflective of the kind of alchemy that comes from friendships and like minded musicians, highlighting the strength and creativity of each member.
Carothers, a native Tennessean, had known Tripp Lamkins (The Grifters/Dragoon) since the early days of famed the Memphis band The Grifters. Upon hearing about the Paper Cameras project, Tripp made his way to Portland, OR to record at Jackpot Studio with Tape Op founder Larry Crane (Elliott Smith/Sleater Kinney/ Go-Betweens/Thermals). They began tracking with no band rehearsal and recorded the record in just only two days. With rhythmic complexity and blended harmonies, the outcome is reminiscent of a lower-fi New Pornographers, Wedding Present, with hints of later Royal Trux. Larry Crane’s honest straight-ahead production style anchors the songs and would easily be in step with fans of Summer Cannibals.
This collaboration of veteran musicians came together more smoothly than they ever could have imagined. After the songs were instrumentally framed, Carothers brought painter Michelle Anne Muldrow to sing with Nathan Junior. The result became the EP Painted Light, due out in the fall of 2018 on No Night Travel. Painted Light floats within sonic range between 90’s garage influenced rock and inventive, harmony-laden 80’s power pop.