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Paper Tongues, "Paper Tongues"
Before a chance run-in with "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson helped land them a recording contract, Paper Tongues grew from a collective of Charlotte, N.C., musicians that mixed witty alt-rock with measures of hip-hop, funk and soul. Here, each member brings their electric taste to the band's self-titled debut. The party-rock single "Ride to California" features a hip-hop beat and auctioneer intensity during the verse, mixed with bombastic electronica and a tongue-in-cheek hook. But Paper Tongues serve as a voice for the downtrodden youth on fiery hip-hop anthems like "Everybody" and "Rich and Poor." On the gritty, Kings of Leon-esque album opener "Trinity," the band advocates for the unrepresented: "Hear me pleading/I'm a child/I'm the poor/I am needing." And "For the People" pits angsty verses and foot-tapping street drums against a sugar-sweet, club-friendly chorus. With a dynamic Phoenix-meets-Beastie Boys sound, Paper Tongues debut with a novel rock-hop alloy that feels natural and refreshingly organic. --Connor McKnight