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Lit From Within

by The Paperbacks

December in the desert, and your family and your friends are scattered like they're scraps of dust on Santa Ana winds. Some found less hostile places, some went legally insane. Some have died, some got arrested, some were just otherwise detained. You search for winter's definition, but seasons dull to shades; there's heat that scorches or heat that whispers incoherent names. But you'll find some spotty evidence in faded Polaroids of Food Not Bombs from Oregon. Of houses now destroyed. Aquarius. Aquarius. A trident through a crab that scuttled half-way northward and did not quite make it back. Can you put this all behind you, now: the contagions and the greed? The burnt-out husks of activists who've found other relief? And just schedule your suffering for the one hour a day between the time you shut off your lights and sleep takes you away. You've had a hard life for noble reasons. Now night emerges from the Earth. You've had a hard life for noble reasons, and it's not clear what that's worth. They've had good lives for bad reasons, and you're envious sometimes. They've had good lives for bad reasons. Maybe...that would be enough tonight.
I'm changing into funeral clothes in my hotel room alone, anxious about what I'll find. The TV plays old videos, and a youthful Axl Rose suggests that patience is required. He says, "(whistle)". The day's cascading gloom, coupled with summer's sick perfume delivers memories of you…of every thrilling bit of flesh, revealed quite by accident, that left me breathless and confused. It followed that we couldn't sleep...consumed by new realities. And at night the stars and planets, they lined up just as you would command them. They'd move in little circles, present their light just so they could alert you. Now your tormentors, neatly shod, curtsey stiffly before god, whose existence they've imperilled with their homophobic shit; with every wound that they inflict with their remorseless, empty stares. But your eyes once shone, devoid of fear; so blue they bordered on clear. They challenged every source of light. Now the tide of the morning sun just reminds me that you're gone…and how we all left you behind. Chorus.
The stink of incense fills my chilly attic perch, and I awake to the sound of clacking looms. So as cats bat at the tassels of my hooded shirt, I lay motionless 'til afternoon. And, as planned, you are both gone when I descend. I mark the chalkboard and drive away alone…to where thick, muddy water curls with menace, with regret, and slops its verdict on the sagging shore. I watched you thrive there. I nearly died there. I watched you thrive there. You settled to find peace. I settled in defeat. Back in town, I've found you both out for a drink. The streets have emptied, but flags sprouted up like trees. And the entire bar is reading captions on a screen while the same image constantly repeats. Chorus. Mists condensing on the mountains like a bruise, like structures falling; the dust encompassed me. Oh, I have seen the leaf, the blossom and the fruit; now I'll be witness to the withering. I watched you thrive there. I nearly died there. I watched you thrive there; you found everything you need. I never tried there. I couldn't survive there. I just watched you thrive there…it was so beautiful to see. But it's best, now, that I leave.
Your hair unspools like a pool of black ink. The spot where elastics had clamped it in place now is marked with a kink. I think: I haven't seen you this loose in a while. Because your glasses' thick rims; your conservative coat; your matching defences, resplendent and fully impenetrable: they are aberrations that have hardened to a style. Remembering the days that you felt so free. You'd walk around topless, smoke pot and you'd act like it was no big deal. I believe that you really thought that was true. But we were so small town. We were so naive. We were relocating, escaping to Portland, where we thought we could be ourselves, but our pasts fastened to us like glue. Deferred adolescence, small deceits. Adult swim lessons and G.E.D.s. Slow learners, slow learners. And I'd like to place the blame on everyone else: the bastards who hit you, dismissed you and forced you to abandon yourself. But I know I could never strike myself off of that list, because you would ask me for things I could easily provide, and I'd put it off, I would scoff, I'd swap jobs, I'd avoid, I'd deny. I'd freeze you out. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I was just learning about myself, too. I never meant to hurt you. Chorus.
Triggering 03:44
Shadows align in stark designs, assuming familiar shapes. Bodies entwined turn undefined. Features merge and erase. You have dark memories to face. They show up sometimes in spaces you thought were safe. Sex you've endured. Techniques you've learned to disassociate. Corners you've worked in blood-stained shirts. Drugs that would blur the pain. You have dark memories in place, and I've brought them out with ignorance and haste. (Triggering) The shadows in your head. (Triggering) The sheltered life I've led. (Triggering) Violence has been carelessly spun into the fabric of the things that you really love. Alternate paths, supporting casts, ways to communicate. Tales from your past in increments. Heroic acts of faith. You have dark memories to face, and I thank you for letting me participate. Chorus. The strength it takes for you to laugh, to teach, to heal, to tell me that these are the things you need. These are the things that are triggering. Chorus. Well, you are a treasure, and your strength will slowly rub these echoes of violence from the things that you really love.
Your alcoholic father died when the vessels in his throat, they capsized, and drowned him in blood: his own. And so your despondent mother tried to fill in all the gaping holes in her life with escalating addictions, alone. You left home when you turned 16 with some people you met and admired, because they denied the vices that plagued your home. But their aggressive stance began to seem an abusive form unto itself, so you took flight. You hitchhiked out of the city alone. You tell me what you've seen. You imply the in-betweens, and leave searing red ellipses at the end. You think your friends won't understand. Yeah, they just won't understand. They can think they'll understand, but they won't. They won't. One day you'll wake as dusk creeps in, and strip off all your filthy clothes, stained with wine, and take them to a Laundromat far from home. You'll watch rows of gleaming machines spin, but cycles of another sort won't touch your mind. They're communicated through blood: your own. You tell me what you've seen. You imply the in-betweens, and leave searing red ellipses at the end.You think your friends won't understand. Yeah, they just won't understand. And if you think that, well, then, yeah. We won't. We won't.
If you're lost to me before I can be lost to you, I will alter each inscription knitted to my flesh to prove the transience of self against the smooth scaffolds of time…and the thin membranes that separate the dead from the alive. Geometric patterns shadow sections of my arm, like the vectors that we travel in from hospital to bar. Or how we trace those same lines while we're propped up drunkenly, like an isosceles triangle...the base shifting as we weave. Face a jury, and mark your plea on your skin. The doctors worry, and ink flows from within….because the art is only permanent if the canvas can pull through, so let's commemorate these moments with regrettable tattoos. Abstract symbols for a friend I will never again see flank a kanji symbol for health blurred by scars from surgeries. When my blood thinners acted to increase the potency of wine, I got insignias for bands who've sucked since 1989. Chorus. The past becomes quite present as our march to death resumes, so let's commemorate these moments with regrettable tattoos. Let's commemorate...
Do you sleep at all? Do you ever stop shaking? Does your wakefulness twist past the yawning abyss that consumes your dreams? Are there still points of rest between your erratic motions, or do the ghosts encroaching need motion to keep them away? These questions aren't rhetorical. I'm trying to assess the mess inside. And your mouth curls like a dog's, in a permanent smile, but your eyes issue a denial. Do you sleep at all? Or do you sit up chain-smoking: a habit learned late that you've come to hate but that fills up the time.
We dwell in a perpetual autumn; auburn leaves curl and sway. They frame our steps in halos, stale and rotten. They will never disintegrate. We dwell in a perpetual autumn; the sun, a smudge, as fields burn. Wax drizzles into rancid jack o'lanterns, because certain skills can't be unlearned. And it's all right to curse this wilting Earth. Don't be alarmed. As you inferred, our sorrows were conceived eternities before our birth. Crisis looming, crises ever pending. Beasts fatten and change their skins. Everything's in the process of ending, but nothing ever finishes. Chorus. Wasps spin drunkenly at the edge of every tin of refuse we arrange on boulevards. This confounds ghosts whose spectral dealings dishonour their hosts.
Caroline 03:50
Come on, the music is fading fast, and soon there'll be nothing to distract us from our last unwavering directives. So slip past the bouncers, right into my arms. Leave your coat on, though its warm, and stare beyond me at the crowded exit. Caroline, it feels like a waste of time dancing to the rhythm of the things that aren't forgiven yet. And no one else would ever see the point in trying, but we'll stay and negotiate until we both are dust. Marks visible beneath the bar's black lights. Yeah, your scars glow hard; they shine, as you decline a can of cheap domestic. You crack your standard skinny little grin, and you look lit from within, an illusion that fades with brief inspection. Chorus. I'm enlarging and I'm echoing the insecurities that coil in your mind…and just a single word will cause them to unwind. Chorus.
Your words are in front of me like you need my permission for the ruthless incisions you have in store. Yeah, I know this was written for my older sister…and, yeah, I know that you kissed her. That won't make her yours. Well I didn't really take the time to read your lyrics; just a cursory listen sitting in the waiting room. Coloured by where I was, you'd expect something to hit me…but illness as a metaphor means shit to you when you are sick for real. Oh, it's poetry, sure, and I know you're as deserving as you are self-serving. That I can't deny. So take another picture of our abandoned old squat. Yeah, take it and fuck off. This was our life. Chorus. You take what you need, you leave in your wake something that'll capsize as soon as you're away. You spill each purse to fill in lines to define some kind of other way. But democracy's not forged in 'sleep', it's made while holding each other up, and when you betray that, the things you need, I swear, they won't be there again. The things you need, they won't be there again.
I know you never will move until circumstances force you to. Then you'll gather the couple tools that you turn wine to water with…like your wallet, so stuffed with notes and drawings, all so rough. It's like Jackson Pollock threw up inside of your consciousness. And on and on and on, you'll settle for these things: you'll crawl up to the very borders of your dreams, just to fight invisible and arbitrary lines with an endless tide of these crude instruments. You possess gifts so rare, but you shake them like snowflakes from your hair, totally unaware. You just keep building walls, until all of your points of weakness become your only points of access. Chorus. Crude instruments from another time. Crude instruments, crude by design. Crude instruments, instructing you on what to do. Crude instruments from another time. Crude instruments you can defy. Crude instruments, but they're leading you. Crude instruments.
Sister, where were you as the riot police commandeered 13th Avenue? We were harvested up like flies; they tossed their chemicals into our eyes. And now sufficiently blinded, we fell into our bindings anew. A year on trial. You've been kept mollified, and because privilege gives way to procedure every time, you have remained complicit with degradation and intolerance that will not be suspended unless we're defended tonight. A year on trial. Sister, you walk free, but ancient winter will render its judgement incrementally. I came of age in between two wars, both of them meaningless to the core, while, here, basest survival was all we could strive for, so I fought 'til I could fight no more. Until I was brought forward for a year on trial.
Your friends made a plan and it was a disaster. It was left to you to salvage it. You went into it cold, but you became a master. You found the best slots for them to fit. But then they expected you to handle each facet. They'd just show up to make complaints to you. Then the deadlines, they passed, and you were the last one. You gathered up the blame and locked the gate behind you. Then you fell in love with various cast-offs. You made a safe place for them to stay. You'd work until you were sore, and though they were thankful, their experiences made it hard to say. But the bills built up high, yeah. Oh, they would stack up, so you would work more, you'd steal, you'd plead. But the pressures were strong. And, because you were the last one, they made it the betrayal they had prepared to see. Bare ceiling lights on a hardwood floor. Gather up the mast, find a new cast. You are a reservoir. You came in late, yeah, and you felt so anxious. You just stood behind the final pew. All these people you loved mourning one they abandoned. You slipped out before anyone saw you. Then at the station, in line, yeah, you were the last one that they had room for on the train. You handed your ticket off to some kid who just asked you. You found a bench, pulled your hood up and tried not to dream. Chorus.
The Coast Starlight is late tonight. Its steady rattle lures you into sleep, while shadows fall past ancient redwood trees to crawl the leaden darkness of a lettuce field. They sing. The fog conspires with night to blanket every sight, so against your trembling shoulder I will lean. And I'll whisper words in careful sequences to purge the restless chill that seeps out of your dreams…because the last time we were here was for a funeral, and the crackle of death managed to remain. Even now it feels unusual. It won't go away. If we're denied our passage to another side, we'll set our skinny ghosts here by the sea. But if we're returned to this earth in a manner transformed, then on narrow roads, in these brief rains we'll be. Oh, the last time we were here was for a funeral and the crackle of death managed to remain. But I'm still here, and I can't be losing you. Oh, don't go away. Don't go away.
Night falls fast, now. It fills in the crevice between the tactics we've practiced and the things that we actually believed. But, howling and snapping like wind through an abandoned shaft, you push back at the black stain 'til its inky membrane contracts. You hold me closer. You inspect me for the smallest flaws. A crowd queues at your feet; they hold their applause. The arc of a light. You can't see where it begins, but the ending's implied. You trace its inverted grin to where it subsides. You hold in your shaking hands some small demands. One by one, they'll be denied. The arc of a light. Prelapsarian variants on my own past struggle to supplant the last vestiges of memory I have. But my fusion with the beautiful things of the world is cut short by this daily struggle to determine who's forsaken me more, as you hold me closer, to deflect curses they've hurled at you. But that same closeness provides such a miserable view. Chorus. So: hold me closer, push me up to the glow of your dying fire, and I'll kick furiously to help it expire. Chorus.
I'm examining your new apartment through grainy cell phone pictures where the backlight ripples through your windows and pixels glisten in your hair. But as these borders grow more rigid with every vague domestic threat-with each inflated obligation-it's the most we can expect. I'm stalled in a haze without you, typing half-drunkenly, emoting in lower cases; unpunctuated fits. I'll circle around your ankles like a dizzy chain of bees to sting the shackles of citizenship. And you still can't leave the country on account of your arrest for knocking down a police officer at a decade-old protest. And so our parcels will clear customs covered in literal red tape. The contents bend though they ship cushioned and anything fragile will break. Chorus. Bold lines etched by old ties and plebiscites. Bold lines denied by thin wires and satellites. Chorus.
Catherine, you got so drunk that you forgot where your apartment was. You called 3 cabs, then wandered off. You woke up on a ragged lawn with your glasses and your wallet gone. Some teenagers were checking your pulse. You walked towards the ocean's swell to reorient yourself. The salt stole your remaining sight. You're casually swearing at the vacant coastline. Catherine, you were a mess: Your spine was visible through your dress, your hair was matted and torn out. You swung a bandaged hand at me. You accused all of us of treachery. Your voice shook the trailer walls. Your reflection quivered on panels of aluminium. It was nothing that you recognized. You're casually swearing at your vacant coastline. Closed factories on a toxic beach. Smokeless smokestacks. We'll rebuild them from scratch. I just want my sister back.
The wind sings violence, and the forest's narcotic stench stains. Its vapours permeate. And we make our decision: we prefer prison to the rain, so our steps must be retraced. We propped a dying artist against her deathless art to gauge the gulf that separates. But all our first enchantments have outlived later judgements made. Thus, the chasm was erased. All rights are waived; embrace this maggot age. These rights we've waived. Math damage escalates. Math damage will replace all the rights we've waived; embrace this maggot age. These rights we've waived, math damage takes their place. Math damage escalates. Your dreams slowly revealed in full, monotonous detail: all passion is replaced. Just cold, mechanical sex and soulless architects remain to grimly populate. Chorus. The trees above obscure the view, but bits of starlight trickle through. A tinge of gold infects your eyes. The source, of course, is from inside. This is the morning I will…(Gorging, starving: it's a numbers game).
Hey...your call was so cryptic that I came across town to see if you're okay. I saw your home decorated for Hallowe'en, and you had made a grave…your name etched on a Styrofoam stone. Then I walked in on you passed out, alone. I caught a glimpse of your face in the mirror on the floor; it was strange. So tell me, who are you? And who were you last time? And when will you clarify yourself…? Umbrella skeletons over your head. Bare ocean beneath you now. The sky's splitting, and scolding every inch of your skin. And you fold at the slightest sound. I can barely reach you now. Yeah, you're flailing, just sailing in the skinniest winds. I've seen photos of you as a kid. Bursting with rancorous id; raging, unfocused through the mobile home where you lived. And now, you're at once at one with those times…yet somehow just barely alive. And I'll never get used to that new hardened look in your eyes. Chorus. You said, "The cemetery's winning, so that's reason for quitting. The dead will push the living to higher highrises." You planned your journey not worried what you did to yourself. But then the initial thrills were shoddy. They vacated your body. You needed something heartier to keep yourself high, so now I'm diving to revive your venomous shell.
Day Planners 02:20
I had a tentative plan for this year, but now I don't know if I'll even stay here…or if I'll just allow unconnected events to slowly merge as they blur at the edge. And now I have had far too much to drink. I'll say things I rarely let myself think. My breaths come in pairs as the present resolves to pass, and my heartbeat leaves ripples when I grip the glass. My heartbeat leaves ripples when I grip the glass. So let's dismiss options as each one appears. Let's choose completely unsuited careers. Let's let our arms hang there limply as we're embraced, and then just race breathlessly into our graves. Then just race breathlessly into our graves. I'm reaching out, but you're too far away to love with accuracy. And a dark depression could be scheduled in, but It all takes too long…so let the clocks decide who's right or wrong. So let the clocks decide who's right or wrong.
Make Art 02:42
Through the windows of your offices, junipers lay soft with lazy snow. And in your apartment, paintbrushes grew hardened in their disuse long ago; the colours rusted closed. Make art. Focus and create art. You work just to display art that's completely beneath you. Stationed amidst your obligations, I'm dying for the day when you admit you need it, too. Some instruments flawed in small ways: broken strings or cracks from constant moves. They get buried in your storage space. Though easily repaired, that's your excuse that they never get used. Chorus. Absolutes that charmed you in your youth appeared harmful as you grew. And though they've been abused, these fundamental truths still require things from you.
In my youth, I attended non-accredited religious schools. They taught me the body was a unit without cells, and that to accept division led to hell. As I grew, all the fallacies instilled in me, well, they changed, too. I steadfastly rejected everything that can't be proved. I needed it to spit, to scream, to bruise. Time passed, and the Great Plains developed their own central myths. I was made smaller in the vast expanse of land and the dogma of countless hardcore bands. That, too, was decimated as my disappointment grew; their calls for revolution always being undermined by their sexist words, their slurs, their lies. I could never get a hold on myself. I never got a hold on myself, and when you asked, I'd say: If there's this world and another one, let's just get to the other one. But now we've fallen too far. Petitions for our security are denied. So march with me, arm in arm, O, patron saint of atheists, to the light. Now the cells that they denied existence of, rise up, rebel. They leave my body twisted, but I will fight on, still eased by the gentle looks you offer me, or your bracelets clattering as you lay out some medicine. Because you provide the antidote to both heaven and hell: A life that's worthy in and of itself. Chorus. Standing at these barricades, knowing that all symbols fade. But what they symbolize is something altogether different. Something altogether different.
We're paring down a monster by degree. We've emptied it of harsh vocation and mortality. And the venues range from amphitheatres to coffins, settled unadorned, unmourned and resolute. And now we will not fail again. We will not fail again. Accumulated loss comes to an end. We will not fail again. We will not fail again. This year, no fatalities, my friends. Exhausting every method we've been shown and then incautiously defecting into the unknown. Because maybe something in you has to die to ensure the core of you will somehow still survive. Chorus. It feels so different since your attempt. But we will blend vigilance with joy; layer music over noise, and then (Chorus).
In the single-digit streets of Portland's Southeast, you emerge from your temporary job. And in the cover of a storm, you change from your uniform and you walk…to the Basement Pub, where the people that you loved rarely gather now, since Gail passed away. You buy scraps of food and dollar-fifty Laurelwoods. You're lost in thought…as the night captures you, and will always refuse to let you wander from its borders for too long. And though it's never quite your home, it's the sole passport that you hold: to the darkness, where all your precious stars once shone. And the rain does not abate for nearly 15 days. You watch the drops make patterns on your screen; it makes portraits of the dead, with their secret messages. Past them, you see your unregistered car that litters your backyard. It gives shelter to a pair of scruffy birds…until the sunlight spills, as it sometimes will, through the trees. Oh, but the light could last for you just as long as you would choose to embrace with greater depth the opinions of the people who have tried to let you know that you provide them with such comfort whenever your clouds lift. They want you to know you are lit from within.
Makeshift curtains from Iron Maiden flags; water-damaged bedspreads, threadbare laundry bags. It keeps the light out, but can't deflect the shame that you've scattered liberally through your domain. And now apparitions both far and near, they keep telling you that you're wrong. They keep whispering in your ear. It sounds vaguely like a song. They're begging you to sing along.
The Empire Builder spills into the last station on its run. Ghosts solidify upon the dawn. Snow descending, figures blending, grey skies collide with the streets. There is no one waiting here to receive me. So many things have changed. So many things have changed since I've been gone. So many things have changed. Me most of all.
You laid down roots in California, upon its grinding, shifting plates. Its metaphorical and actual flash-fires and rattlesnakes lapping at your calloused heels, which you've pressed bare to the earth as you've examined all its chaos in suitably defiant bursts. And fifteen hundred miles away I'm motionless before a desk, trying to marry words to images of you that will not leave my head. Perhaps art is mere compulsion, or just a debt that must be paid. If so, I offer every word to you in full public display. You seemed older when you were younger. Now you seem younger than you are, like your notions of self crystallized in that strong premature start. Or is it just that your convictions remain uniquely undefiled against an entire generation of relentless compromise? And so in thoughts of my mortality, I find myself wondering who in the end I will finally be held accountable to. And the facelessness of God remains an obstacle each time. And so I see my life assessed within your merciful blue eyes. Continental drift. Unseen aggregates. Over, under. Desert, tundra. Earth beneath us, still...if it be your will.
The smog sits like a heavy curtain over every distant source of light, and the street lamps have blinked out of existence. So, half-blind without your glasses, you stand, paralyzed. You carry the twilight of the prairies in the few good memories of your youth, but now you cower among a cluster of black towers. Your clocks have all lost hours, and so have you. Wildfires and rolling blackouts. You snuff your candle out and sleep, but, unfamiliar with your new house, every noise enters your dreams. It tears at their loosened seams until you wake. Old friends, displaced or abandoned: you never expect them to remain. Like even the brightest of electrical devices, they're extinguished at the strangest times of day. Chorus. Every noise enters your dreams, servicing their hidden themes, until…in silence, you're waiting. In silence, you're waiting for them.
It will take courage, my love, to walk through this life; to cut paths through the bastards who'll strain to devise nefarious methods to strip you of your hope. It takes courage to not let go. And then as your family fractures and your friends disappear, or, out of self-preservation, chain you to their fears…as their fictions and addictions drain the last of your will, it takes courage to love them still. It will take courage, my love, to refuse to heed the cramped imaginations of those who would lead. And though you can barely see past their consuming fires, it's your courage that is required. To wrap your fists around what you've found to ward off their lies, to manoeuvre past hearses and to curse at the night. To pick up a tape off the floor of the van. To sing with it as loud as you can. Oh dearest, I know, you can't see a light. But dearest, don't you know, you have one inside. And now obstacles tower without and within; disease angles closer, your words lost within. But as its muscular wings rip the skin from your bones, oh, my love, you are not alone. Because it takes courage, my love, to assess what you are; to see what surrounds you and to be humbled and small…and to still find the strength to fight for these slivers of truth. So I take courage, my love, from you. I take courage, my love, from you.
O, sweet vessel of light. O, sweet vessel of light. The infrequency of courage often stalls your fragile flight. But you'll manage it now, sweet vessel of light. And time, it won't make amends. Time, it won't make amends. The past hangs like a vengeful shadow, with it you will contend, and I can attest that time won't make amends. But in the night…you lay down beside me and I saw your glow. So if it's time, put an asterisk beside my name to show that, though I can't say I believe, I can now at least conceive of the presence of light. Oh, this could be a phase. Oh, this could be a phase. Though it feels like something more abundant than just a comforting haze, I will admit, this could be a phase. Chorus. Oh, 'cause I could be strong. Oh, 'cause I could be strong. When I feel the things you've tried to tell me; when they meet me in these songs that I've been singing to you…oh, I could be strong.
Kate-you're walking through a Circle K, and all your circumstances have changed, but you'll still read every spot the convex mirrors and cameras reach. It's muscle memory. It's just what happens when your difficulties go on so long. All the habits remain after they've all gone. You were saving up money for a surgery that she needs. Skimming off the till at the sunglass kiosk. Making fake receipts, while I was stealing every word that I heard you uttering. Thieves among honour, aligned to each other, with pockets both picked clean. Oh, Kate: I betray you constantly, I adjust your pain to fit a melody; compress your time into platitudes produced to crudely rhyme. And you rarely ever say a word, though I know these things must hurt. I guess you relate to me moving things from column A to column B. Chorus. You were saving up money for a surgery that she needs. Skimming off the till at the sunglass kiosk. Making fake receipts. And you were developing a food stamp scam so you could feed a pair of punks sleeping in your front hall closet that appeared randomly. You did a seven-point dive into the dumpster of the bakery. Hauling back bags in your bicycle basket, deeking out police. You were forging signatures at a chain-store pharmacy. Thieves among honour, aligned to each other, with pockets both picked clean.


“Two hours might be a long time to spend with any one style of music, but few bands could make that time pass by as pleasantly as the Paperbacks. The marriage of their unfailingly pretty guitar tones to McLean’s sweet vocals makes for an ideally melodic combination, and the band’s punk roots have lent them a finely tuned sense of rock momentum that keeps the music from ever going slack. Theirs may be one of the most purely listenable sounds I’ve come across, essentially, but what truly enriches their music remains McLean’s lyrics. “ - Pop Matters

“The songs have wit, emotion and introspection, all with chiming guitars and tasteful harmonies, and most importantly, don't all blend together even after a couple of hours. The only issue with Lit From Within is that because it's released in January, it might be forgotten by the time the lists of top Canadian albums for 2010 are compiled. If there is any justice at all, it won't just be remembered, it will be near the top.” - Exclaim!

“On their third album, Prairie boys The Paperbacks create the musical equivalent of a magnum opus with two discs of confessional indie-rock made for millenials, featuring frontman Doug McLean describing house parties and wayward art girls in Raymond Carveresque detail. For those who say indie’s gotten too disposable, Lit From Within proves that there’s still room for albums in which careful listeners will be rewarded.” - Eye Weekly

“The whole band is perfectly controlled throughout. There’s no indulgence, no bloat; no extended jams, no rock opera, no skits, no dub excursions, no sound collages. Every song has a strong melody, a clear point-of-view and fitting instrumentation, and each adds to the effect of the whole. Indeed, try to hack out the filler as you build your mp3 playlist and you’ll see — no chaff remains amongst the wheat” - The Manitoban

“Even though he’s just 34, I think we should already give singer-guitarist Doug McLean some sort of lifetime achievement award for writing well-crafted, literate, urgent indie rock songs that stick with you for days. It’s hard to find a bad song in the bunch. People might think a band crazy to release a double album in this day and age, but The Paperbacks pull it off with flying colours.” - The Uniter

“Sounding like an early Weakerthans fronted by a wordier Ben Gibbard, the Paperbacks are a band you want to succeed. Their songs are catchy, their lyrics are poetic, and their hearts are in the right place. Lit has beautiful moments that shine through and covers more sonic ground, expanding on future directions for the band.” - Alternative Press

The Paperbacks are bringing both quantity and quality. The songs are soft when they need to be and are loud and raucous when desired with each piece of the band contributing to make each song the best Paperback’s song you’ve ever heard. Until you get to the next song.

- Beatroute Magazine


released January 12, 2010

The Paperbacks present “Lit From Within.” The Paperbacks are: Doug McLean (vocals, guitars), Jaret McNabb (bass, keyboards, percussion, glockenspiel), Kevin Anderchuk (guitars, vocals), Kevin McLean (keyboards, vocals) and Corey Biluk (drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals). Additional musicians: Andrew Filyk (guitars), Mike Koop (guitars), Rosalyn Dennett (violin), Alison DeGroot (clawhammer banjo), Ian Larue (vocals) and Jahmeel Russell (vocals). Produced, engineered and mixed by Jaret McNabb in his home studio using Reaper. Mastered by Dave Gardner at Magneto Mastering. Design and layout by Doug McLean and Ian Larue. All songs © 2010 Doug McLean/The Paperbacks. © 2010 Parliament of Trees. P.O. Box 14 RPO Corydon, Winnipeg, MB. R3M 3S3, Canada. www.thepaperbacks.com www.parliamentoftrees.com


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The Paperbacks Winnipeg, Manitoba

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