Papernut Cambridge return with their second album ‘There’s No Underground’ – the follow up to last year’s ‘Cambridge Nutflake’ album and ‘5D-EP’. Papernut leader Ian Button completed the album in Spring 2014 in between production jobs for Darren Hayman and Go Kart Mozart, drumming for Wreckless Eric and living life, and has once again put together a vibrant and varied bunch of collaborators and friends for these new recordings: the band line-up this time includes Papernut regulars Darren Hayman, Robert Rotifer, Robert Halcrow (from Picturebox) and Ralegh Long, as well as ex-Hefner pedal steel guru Jack Hayter, Button’s former Death In Vegas bandmate Mat Flint, three quarters of the Mary Epworth band and Ruari Meehan (son of producer and Shadows drummer Tony, and formerly of Belakiss).
While ‘Cambridge Nutflake’ was an album set in hazy cosmic dreamland, ‘There’s No Underground’ is located in Ian Button’s actual and spiritual home at the South Eastern edges of London town, where postcodes turn Kentish and the M25 lurks behind the next row of hills, almost within earshot. The album’s title, you see, is not really a statement on the complete commodification of pop culture (though it could well be that too), but rather a neat definition of those very ends of the Metropolis that lie even beyond the outer reaches of Metroland. There really is no underground. And it’s not really rock ‘n’ roll. Neither is this album which sounds nothing like Ian’s earliest bands and not even that much like the previous Papernut release. Influences have been noted by the artist as Bolan, The Byrds, Motown, Mr Bloe, Jaques Dutronc, Scott Walker, Arnold Corns Bowie, Tony Orlando and Dawn, 10CC, The Beach Boys, The Flaming Lips, Edison Lighthouse and Van Der Graaf Generator – the last track name checks them as Ian listened to Pawn Hearts incessantly as a kid. Yet ‘There’s No Underground’, if not referencing London per se, does contain something of the estuary angst heard in Ray Davies, Damon Albarn and Pete Doherty and a degree of that slurred cocky glam-rock that Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel did so well.
That’s not to say the music really sounds like any of that at all though, it’s a bubbling stewpot from everything that has inspired a man of a certain age no longer embarrassed by those prog records punk eradicated, the glitzy bubblegum rock of prime time Top Of The Pops (when Mott were the dudes and Rod was still cool), a nod towards the psychedelic music of his childhood and everything that has happened since. ‘Umbrella Man’ could only be described as Alex Chilton on more downers than he swallowed whilst recording Third attempting to play a bubblegum-psych soul disc by The Rotary Connection and ‘The Long Shadows Of Lee’ sounds like The Beachwood Sparks in “Cosmic Dartford” mode!
You can get hold of a copy and hear some tracks for free at the band website: https://garedunordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/theres-no-underground-vinyl-version