Two weeks ago, I spent a few days out in Los Angeles, something that I never feel the need to do. It’s only happened twice, ever, and it likely won’t happen again for years. While out there, there was one overwhelming urge that I couldn’t shake. The band, PAPA, was playing the final night of a month-long residency at The Echo on Sunset Blvd., and it felt like something that shouldn’t be missed. Since being introduced to the four-piece, last year, there have been few new, young bands that have intrigued me as much as they have. So, I powered through stupid LA traffic, into the downtown, was immediately greeted with a beer upon arrival and sunk into these songs that come thumping from all fields.
The EP, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, and the newer songs that were aplenty at the black box of the Echo are presentations of the fragile minds and hearts of men who can’t help but feel scorched. They’re the kinds of characters who are living paycheck to paycheck and wobbly day to wobbly day. They are spent, but they aren’t exhausted.
They are still impressed with the capacity that they have to take on the stress of love and living and still be able to lift their arms and forks to nourish themselves. That could mean food, it could mean smokes. They are richer and poorer for all of it. They win some, they lose a lot more, but just like a big league baseball player, all you have to do is recognize that if you hit safely three times out of ten, you’re an all-star, a Hall of Famer and making $10 million a year.
The few times when good things happen, it’s the most uplifting and affirming thing that could ever come to them. Oddly, it’s just as affirming and uplifting when everything goes into the crapper. There’s a weird and invigorating spirit to those mishaps and those catastrophes.
Singer and drummer Darren Weiss writes these shaggy dog songs that remind us of crashing through the ice of what we thought was a pond frozen over. It’s that feeling of horror, fear and yet full-bodied electricity. It’s that feeling that for the first time in forever you know for certain that you’re all there, every part of you. You’re in a bad spot, but you know as soon as you get inside and get toweled off, put on a new sweater and pants, you’re going to feel better than you have in weeks. PAPA songs are full of hazy heads, where there are lies mingling, where there are sentiments working. They are asking more from their fires. They are asking for something to keep them steady, not just warm and there’s no way to know if that will ever happen.