Thursday, April 23, 2009

The rich joyous song of Paean

Despite inclusion in the list of genre labels that seem contradictory or downright dumb (a list that starts with Afropunk and ends somewhere around Wizard Rock), Folk Rock really just might be the best label to stick to the sound of Paean.

To describe Paean (pronounced pee-en, named after the ancient Greek term used to describe a joyous song) in greater detail would be to remark on the rich orchestral flavoring of their sound and literary lyrics. Frontman Dave Maddocks (who, by the way, is just fine with a two-word description) has been playing music since his days at Fort Collins High School where he played straightforward Rock ᾿n Roll.

But it wasn’t long before he strayed from the track into Acoustic territory, writing and recording songs at his home recording studio, The Barn. Shortly thereafter, the project snowballed, bringing on instrumentalists Marty Albertz and Jonathan Alonzo, as well as Dave’s high school friend and bassist Andrew Hendrickson. Paean has also grown into something of a Maddocks’ family affair: Dave’s brother and sister, drummer Tim Maddocks and violinist Anna Maddocks, as well as his brother-in-law Adam Delorme on banjo.

Paean dropped its debut, a split with fellow FoCo act Sour Boy Bitter Girl, last summer to some acclaim (Scene critic Matthew Azrael Martin deemed it “the summer 2008 soundtrack.”) Next up is a full-length, due next month. This year’s Paean is much like last year’s Paean as far as musicality, but in terms of songwriting, the band has shifted into a democratic collective as opposed to Dave writing for each instrument as he did early on. “Even if I plan everything and try to write parts for everyone, I’m not good enough,” he says. “Everyone has strengths that I don’t.”

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