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Paper Beat Scissors: an intense love letter to Canada

By Apartment613 on April 22, 2011

Photo courtesy of Tim Crabtree on flickr

Gloria Song is a music writer for Apartment613. She also plays in her own pop band Scary bear Soundtrack.

If you’re looking for something good for the soul to ease you back into your week after the Easter holiday, check out Paper Beat Scissors’ show at the cosy Raw Sugar Café on Tuesday, April 26. Paper Beat Scissors’ Tim Crabtree will be pulling into town with his guitar, loop pedal and songs of a modern day troubadour with a twist.

It’s hard for me to describe Paper Beat Scissors’ music in a way that adequately captures the sound. There is a fascinating and artful mix of folksy acoustic guitar, haunting electric guitar and looped synth beats. Imagine the slow soulful introspection of Nick Drake, the skilled finger picking of Paul Simon, the many diverse layers of guitar tones of Elliott Smith, and the creepy melodies and electric tendencies of Radiohead. In particular, the eerie way “Be Patient” – the last track on Tim’s album Flicker – ends gives me chills like a ghost has passed by. The guitar and vocals cut out suddenly, leaving only the mysterious percussion sounding like heartbeats or footsteps and this strange aching feeling where you wish that there were more songs to follow. It’s intense music.

The work of Paper Beat Scissors sometimes reads like a long term love letter to Canada. Tim moved to Canada from Britain in 2004 to do a masters degree at Dalhousie University and has been hanging around ever since, enriching the Canadian music community with his sound.

Clearly he has good reasons to stick around. “The real contrast for me from York, which was where I was in university in England, to Halifax was the level of support of the local community toward the music scene,” Tim comments when asked about how his new home differs from his old hometown. “The quality of music coming out of the U.K. has been pretty consistently amazing for a long time, and I don’t know if that leads to a more competitive atmosphere….[In Halifax] there’s this incredible creativity in the community itself and support for what people are doing. I was just really struck by the fact that people cared about the music scene. And the supportive environment really encourages people and allows them to develop artistically.”

Tim experienced the extent of this support for the music community recently when he found himself stranded in Fredericton without a ride to Québec City, where he was due to play the next night. Miraculously, the venue owner of the show he played earlier in Moncton drove for two hours from Moncton to pick him up, and drove another seven hours to take him all the way from Fredericton to Québec City. I would imagine the experience not only reaffirmed his views on the generosity of Canadians, but also reminded him of just how big Canada is – unlike England, where according to Tim, you could take a train ride for half an hour and see any band you want.

Paper Beat Scissors already played a fantastic show in Ottawa last week on April 15 at the Mercury Lounge, but if you missed it, you have a second chance to see this great act. Paper Beat Scissors will be performing at the Raw Sugar Café (692 Somerset Street W) on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 along with David Norris and Local Ivan. The show starts at 9pm and cover is $10. Readers can check out the album Flicker here.