Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “North By North” by Faded Paper Figures from the 2008 album Dynamo on the band’s own label, Shorthand Records.
It’s appropriate that the music of Irving, California’s Faded Paper Figures, created almost offhandedly and as a side project from the band members’ busy lives, would be so relaxing, free flowing and effecting. Forget the obvious comparisons to Mum, Postal Service and Stars — this trio of R. John Williams (vocals and guitar), Kael Alden (guitar, keyboards, drums and electronic machines) and Heather Alden (vocals) mix elements of shoegaze, funk, electronic, pop and math rock into a variety of combinations that lend a different feel to each track they produce. The project first formed as a diversion between John Williams and Kael Alden, who somehow managed to write a few songs while wrapped up in their daily worker-bee routines and their separate music outfits around town. Fortunately for us, they decided to give it a real go. Williams’ often hushed vocals would seem too understated a compliment to Alden’s rhythmic journey of glitches, loops and drops if the lyrics weren’t so pop culture clever, with lines like “Is that your conscience, or are you alone? / Is that Noam Chomsky on the telephone?” Completing the trio is Alden’s wife, Heather, who lends her crystalline voice for harmonies and remains a sharp and fresh presence on the album, particularly on the pleasantly escapist Song of the Day, “North By North.”
Recently drawing attention to the band’s efforts is a recent Lexus commercial featuring a composition by Kael Alden, who was himself a one time art director working on television ads, and now in his non-spare time produces music for ad agencies and other clients through his studio and production company, Robot Repair. The full composition is currently available for download on the Faded Paper Figures website, where you can also follow up with the band, check out all of the lyrics to their songs, and find links to pick up Dynamo. Currently, there are no live dates scheduled there or on their MySpace page, but here’s hoping 2009 brings Faded Paper Figures into the foreground and to the stage. For now, you can enjoy the full composition of Alden’s work with Robot Repair on the Lexus Pebble Beach song “Where You Belong”