Paper Holland performs Saturday, June 11 at 9:15 p.m. at the Milwaukee Record Stage.
Happy Belated, the debut album from Milwaukee’s Paper Holland, arrived seemingly out of nowhere in 2013 to a warm reception from the city’s local radio and media outlets.
Its honest and straightforward approach to guitar pop helped land them headlining slots at both Summerfest and the East Side Music Tour in 2014, and following a slew of live shows and a trip to South By Southwest in the same year (NPR named the band one of its Austin 100 prior to the appearance), the band took all of 2015 off to write and record new material.
“Happy Belated was just me and [guitarist] Andy [Kosanke]” said singer and guitarist Joe Tomcheck. “We didn’t have a rhythm section at the time, so once we found drummer Ted [Powers] and bassist Mark [Yencheske], everything changed. Whereas Happy Belated was written entirely on guitar, a lot of these songs started with drums and synthesizers and a lot more people were involved in the songwriting this time around, so the process was pretty different.”
Although initially conceived as a full length, a smaller set of songs noticeably stood out from the lot, leading the band to decide on an EP as the follow up. That EP, Fast Food, is a five song collection that shows the band’s growth as both musicians and songwriters.
Featuring boosted production courtesy of Howl Street Studios’ Shane Hochstetler, Fast Food finds the band incorporating new elements and textures into their previously guitar-dominated sound. Synthesizers, electronic drums, as well as live horn and string arrangements, all find their way into the EP’s five songs, adding a freshness to the band’s sonic palate that makes the songs both more interesting and accessible.
While previous comparisons to guitar-centric bands like the Shins are still accurate, the songs on Fast Food also recall acts like Death Cab For Cutie and Vampire Weekend – hooky and melodic with an equal emphasis on rhythm and groove.