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Give Volcano!'s second album 30 seconds and you might think you've found another identikit indie group. After three minutes you'll think you've stumbled across a new musical dimension. Stabbing guitars and straight-cut beats keel to off·kilter rhythms and Aaron With's impassioned, operatic vocals range like Hubble in space. Imagine if Franz and Muse had been tutored by a laptop-wielding Beefheart and you're on the right lines. Lead single 'Africa Just Wants To Have Fun' is scathing and slightly deranged; 'Slow Jam' shows just how far you can push a simple time signature before it breaks. At times it's difficult to penetrate
the dense mist of ideas that cloaks this album. Persevere, though, and you'll find musical rewards. Conor McGloin
DOWNLOAD: 'SlowJam' -- NME, August 30, 2008
BRACE YOURSELVES; IT'S SKRONKY MUSICAL HEADF*CK TIME AGAIN.
HOW DO you describe a record that determinedly insists upon falling into a dozen musical categories and sub-genres at the same time? You could use words like prog, complex, experimental, lush, polyrhythmic, post-rock, jarring, surprising, uplifting, catchy, confusing and mindblowing,
but even these words combined still don't quite articulate
the magnificently wonky otherness of Paperwork. The Chicagoans'2006 debut Beautiful Seizure turned a lot of heads and this might pull them all the way off. and while it's a record that demands your full attention, it's actually more accessible than you might expect as long
as you keep an open mind and let the trio lead you down their strange and wonderful path.
DOWNLOAD: Slow Jam.
FOR FANS OF: Lightning Bolt, Don Caballero.
DAN SLESSOR -- Kerrang, August 2, 2008
THE LEAF LABEL
Parameter-pushing second from clever-clogs Chicagoans
Volcano! may not stand alone in their field, but Paperwork
reconfirms the trio as non-conformists of a feverishly
energetic and dazzlingly inventive pop bent. Their
songs hold cores of tightly coiled intensity that erupt
in bursts of art-punk, free jazz and electronic noise, before shooting off at myriad, expertly controlled tangents.
All are by turns playful,impassioned and intelligent and, when Aaron With sings, "You stupid sh*t, that was
12 years ago - let it go" (in 'Tension Loop') in his reedy,
Thom Yorke-alike tone, it's as funny and poignant as it is shocking.
SHARON O'CONNELL -- Uncut, October 2008
It may be easy to create an indie rock song that eschews structure for instrumental shock-and-awe, or reveals too much information in the lyrics, or pokes fun at messianic rock stars. Doing all of the above is rare, however-- as is making each stray verse or hiccup as arresting as the one before it-- but volcano! manage this on their second record, Paperwork, even better than they did on their debut, Beautiful Seizure.
The mercurial three-piece may now be more cohesive, consistent, and focused, but volcano!'s unpredictability is Paperwork's biggest strength. "'78 Oil Crisis" starts slow with incidental noises, but it settles into a streamlined, linear melody, until the intermittent spasms of guitar become almost calming. A theremin tone anchors the grinding and coughing of "Sweet Tooth" as it grows more paranoid and mechanical, and later makes an insistent earworm from bent-out-of-tune guitar notes. "Astronomer's Ballad" is a doe-eyed Spanish-language serenade that eventually devolves into tightly controlled chaos. None is quite as stunning as the graceful and evocative "Palimpsests", whose well-tamed fuzz-guitar line and increased patter of drums makes With's taps-like call to "wake up, wake up" seem like a test of strength.
The arrhythmic, stuttering beat and meandering melody of "Performance Evaluation Shuffle" is not the first song to send up cubicle culture, but few have sounded so suffocated and desperate. "Africa Just Wants to Have Fun" shows off the many modes of volcano! but flows more naturally than some of their other freewheeling material. The verse gradually builds to a brassy, step-ladder melody, which progresses to a damn-near funky staccato guitar line, as singer/songwriter Aaron With uses every bit of his elastic vocal range to lampoon Bono, most pointedly over the buzzing bass keyboards in its bridge ("Won't you make up your mind/ Are you bored or inspired... You're acting like Christ on the cross/ You look ridiculous").
As with many tracks on Paperwork, the floor drops out of "Tension Loop", but the percussion skitters along with impressive precision, never losing the pulse. The song emerges from gentle drums and a soft, busy guitar plucking, finally torn apart by jagged samples and electronic manipulation that go from pretty to hair-raising, while With's tempered croon grounds the song (with only minimal yodeling). "Slow Jam" (which is anything but) is the record's biggest gamble, a falsetto-laden ode to impotence.
Lord knows why "Kitchen Dance" ends it all with a half-sigh, offering all the band's tricks-- bi-lingual crooning, keyboards that go from whisper to scream, double-time drums that spike the pulse-- without any of the pacing, charm, or measure of the rest of the album. But without volcano!'s occasional over-indulgence, this record would be half as interesting. Even compared to the convulsive and ambitious pop of their better-established peers like Deerhoof, volcano! are set apart by their fearlessness.
- Jason Crock, October 9, 2008 -- Pitchfork, October 9, 2008
The Chicago trio's second LP balances crazy-paving rhythms
and synth-addled hyper-skronk with a new-found melodic sweetness, Aaron With's caffeinated guitar trills now housed by definable song structures that also find room for wry political commentary. His breathless falsetto remains a deal-breaker, but such vaulting ambition should appeal to fans of US forebears Deerhoof and domestic square pegs Wild
Beasts. MAg -- Mojo, October 2008