Paper Anthem
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Paper Anthem

Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Indie




"I Have Not Listened to an Album That Hit Me as Hard as This One"

From Fayetteville, Arkansas, Joseph Hitchcock has brought his musical talent to fruition. He started learning to play the piano at a young age and gradually learned to sing and play guitar. Hitchcock has written lots of songs, and although this album was not purposefully written as one body, the songs blend and fuse together to create a fantastic listening experience.

Taking from bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol, Hitchcock blends in dozens of different influences, with a twist, to create his own sound. Instead of dueling guitars or rhythm and lead guitars, he uses each hand on a piano to give a similar sound (not to say there are not guitars on this album).

Joseph often had to deal with the feeling of being stuck in a small town, possibly one of the greatest motivators ever. He took that, as well as his love for sci-fi and fantastical games and literature and built a world in his songs.

In a world that thrives on meaningless pop songs that are simply to make money, music like Paper Anthem’s is often overlooked. It is technical, complex and not overly catchy. But the talent and skill that Hitchcock shows in this album, and the depth of the lyrics, prove that he deserves to be heard.

I have not listened to an album that hit me as hard as this one. There was not a single line or verse but rather the entire experience that overtook me. At 52 minutes and 25 seconds, it is not a short album and it is time consuming to listen through. But it is a brilliant album and the composition seems as though it was his fifth or sixth studio album. - The Jailhouse

"Contains The Same Grandiose Allure of a Band Like Coldplay"

I think it’s safe to say the process of making music for an artist can be both cathartic and therapeutic. We have all heard the familiar stories of musicians pouring everything they had into their album and having it reflect where they may have been at that moment in their life. For Joseph Hitchcock aka Paper Anthem and his recent album By Ghosts this seems to be the case. Hitchcock was going through a turbulent time while writing but the feeling of hope, determination and optimism he invokes throughout his songs may be the medicine he needed.

One of my first thoughts when listening to By Ghosts was that is contained the same grandiose allure of a band like Coldplay. Some of the songs really soar. That being said, some of my favorite moments were some of the most subdued. Nonetheless, I’m glad Hitchcock didn’t go grandiose for each song because that experience can be quite exhausting.

The album opens with “Guardian Angel” which put piano and vocal at the focal center of the song. It bursts with exuberance and solace while Hitchcock sings, “Coming around, a guardian angel / Don't look down, I'm falling to you / Coming around, this guardian angel / Don't look down, don't look down.” The constant climax of “Guardian Angel” is balanced by the dynamic “Candle Dances.” “Candle Dances” is like a roller coaster ride with dips and crescendos. The song seems to be about eternal love in an almost cosmic way.

An undeniable highlight was “Cardboard Cove.” It is a single worthy song because of its instant accessibility and catchy melodies. The song feels a little lighter in a good way and I thought the combination of bells and piano is one of Hitchcock's finest moments. Instead of exploding into a chorus he does the opposite and it pays off big time. The transition when he sings, “I still have your note but I'm just sand” and then “In the end there will be nothing but hope for you In the end there will be nothing but the best for you” is one of the best moments on the album.

“Scales on Skin” contains exceptional lyrics and actually reminded me a bit of The Decemberists. He sings, “Long day in the fields / Killing snakes amongst the weeds / Scales on skin like diamond hearts / I'll find a way to open up.” “Rome” goes from sounding huge to atmospheric while “Pantheon” has some slick percussive elements. Hitchcock ends with “The Universe Is Expanding” which goes into post-rock territory similar to Explosions in the Sky.

By Ghosts is far from perfect but definitely contains a number of inspired moments. The songs are varied and diverse while not sounding too disparate. Overall, an enjoyable listen and easily recommended. - The Even Ground

"Paper Anthem Find Power in Poetic Contemplation"

Paper Anthem is the brain child of Fayetteville, Arkansas native Joseph Hitchcock. Hitchcock has music in his blood. The son of a blues singer, he has learned the piano and guitar, and he's honed his voice throughout his young career. With a variety of influences such as Coldplay, Brian Eno, and Tegan & Sara, the man has a natural love for all things music. Taking his versatile taste and injecting it into his music, he churned out a brilliant debut LP By Ghosts which is a stunning journey into Hitchcock's emotional landscape, past, and hope for future days.

By Ghosts does not connect to any direct genre. With piano riffs resting alongside clashing live and programmed drums, the real treat is Hitchcock's voice. His vocals present a man who is sure of himself even if he may not want to sing about it. The pain in his voice is obvious and you can tell what these songs mean to him. Songs like "The Very Last Platform" eschew traditional songwriting with electronica bursts with an experimental vibe. "Rome" uses a repetitive piano riff to hammer home the emotional intensity of Hitchcock's poetry as a steady ambience fills the remaining spaces of the song. Never a wasted musical moment, the songs are filled with life and are absolutely relentless. As Hitchcock sings, "I'll never lose my way," you can see the bright path lit up before him to musical stardom. With piano riffs creating the backbone of you can see he sticks to his strengths and he is already wiser for knowing to. - Baeble Music

"Journey of an Album Sets an Atmospheric Tone"

By Ghosts, Paper Anthems’ debut album, is a piece of work that carries the listener into a world it manifests through the collaborative work of four elements of creation: instrumentals, vocals, lyrics, and emotion. It’s a gentle ride through a landscape of moods driven by dancing keys with narrative vocals guiding the path. The title itself is a byline; it is a nod to artist Joseph Hitchcock’s personal belief that certain instruments contain spirits who give us songs—several songs on By Ghosts were written on Hitchcock’s very old piano. Such a spiritual nature underlying the instrumental vehicle on this journey of an album sets an atmospheric tone so vivid it’s nearly tangible. As much as the songs are gifts from spirits, By Ghosts itself feels like an invitational gift into art crafted on someone’s blank slate. Speaking to themes within the album, Hitchcock explained that no themes were noted until after its completion, when it felt like a single soul wandering a fabled empty Earth in a quest for beauty that can only be found inside oneself. It’s a delight to be invited into such an intimate experience.

Hitchcock’s music has an inevitable beauty; he was trained in piano since the age of six and carries the blood of a blues singer—traits certainly evident in By Ghosts. Listening to the album the first time through, I had a tough time picking out what exactly about the piano was striking me until I read a comment Hitchcock made. He explained that certain songs were inspired by the working nature of two guitars in math rock, only with his two hands rather than two guitars, which is a lovely description of an extremely effective style. By Ghosts is genre-defiant and has a ton of variety in its songs. It opens with a song that sounds like church, “Guardian Angel”, bold piano with equally bold vocals. The next few songs are a buildup of energy, melancholy themes meshing with playful, singsong melodies. The fourth track, “Hills and Hills and Hills”, was my personal favorite of the album. The piano literally dances and the use of lyrical and melodic repetition deepens the impact. Hitchcock’s voice is steady like a heartbeat throughout—“Hill and hills and hills again/Hills and hills and hills I’m alive/I’m alive please hear me”—as the piano builds in the frenzy of our frantic minds. It really illustrates one of the key themes I noted throughout the whole album: yearning.

A sense of yearning bleeds through so many tracks; “Candle Dances” speaks to forever connection with another, then comes “Cardboard Cove”—“Abstract vision from across the sea/I know you and me will never be”—with a love unrequited. “Scales on Skin” is a heart-wrenching account of a person living as a slave to the land, rich with regret: “If I only tried to find a way/around the whys and hows/like if I really tried/if I really tried.” But like every great journey, the album evolves right along with the traveler. “Coils” feels like a turning point where the quest for meaning brings new insight. The piano is lovely in the beginning, with a simple and singsong melody for the vocals that manage to sound incredibly honest. “Somewhere alone I’ll draw in the sand/I’ll build up a castle just to see it stand/I’ll do it by night under strawberry stars/and if it falls down I’ll still do it all,” and “can you see my colors bursting at the seams/I’m running out of time to solidify my dreams/with every ounce of pressure I’m losing drops of life/it’s momentary silence for a glimmer of a try.” The mood shifts here; there is a newfound sense of resolve and a glimmer of hope found in simply trying. The ending of the song picks up and the use of repetition drive “Coils” home with the feeling of an anthem.

By Ghosts ends on a very strong note. Three tracks from the final, everything turns for “The Very Last Platform.” Hitchcock described this song in the most delicious manner, explaining that all albums have dark turns near the end. This song is so different from everything else on the album; it’s dark and atmospheric. The lyrics are dreamy: “Hold my hand through the fog/in a minute here we’ll board our train/we’re going somewhere far away/where the clouds will dissipate.” If By Ghosts is a quest through deep yearning through introspection, “The Very Last Platform” feels like the missing piece before the final Aha! When we find the closing track, “The Universe Expanding”, it is nothing short of absolutely gratifying. Slightly over four and a half minutes of instrumental bliss with a simple statement at the very end: “I’ve seen everything through your eyes/and I don’t need another life/to figure out what I know now”—if By Ghosts is a fable, this is the moral. Check it out, and when you’re listening, do the album full justice and experience it as the whole sequential piece of art it is. No skipping songs; just dive in and go from start to finish. - Ear to the Ground Music

"A Genuine Sense of Heart That Captures the Rawness of Human Emotion"

The sounds layer as the instruments join the melodic voice in the chorus and carry the listener with tunes and thoughtful lyrics.

Paper Anthem, branching off the hub of Joseph Hitchcock, makes these melodic dreams a reality with songs that dance while the singer’s voice soars as a conductor.

Paper Anthem’s first album “By Ghosts” shows off the talent of the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Joseph Hitchcock. Paper Anthem is an indie rock band with clear influences from Snow Patrol, Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie.

The album begins with the song “Guardian Angel” and the instrumental aspect of the song evolves and grows as much as the lyrics do. The melody sways and repeats and gives the feeling of being rocked on a boat. The carrying motion of the song gives that feeling of water as well.

The next few songs also carry the listeners through the music with rhythms and the repetition. Both “Candle Dances” and “Cardboard Cove” have very similar sounds to Snow Patrol songs with the strong vocals and multitude of instruments.

“Hills Hills Hills” is a remarkable song because the meaning of the lyrics is directly parallel to the pattern of the piano. The song sounds as if someone is running up a hill and they are confused and lost. Meanwhile, the lyrics say “I am alive please hear me.” The cry out for help is even more powerful when paired with a meaningful instrumental melody.

Throughout the album, Hitchcock does a good job allowing time for the instrumental part of the song to develop and move the audience before infusing the piece with overwhelming vocals. There is a good ratio of instrumental and vocal parts for all the songs on the album.

There is clear meaning with every decision Hitchcock has made. His lyrics reflect lots of time spent picking the right wording and vocabulary. In the song “Scales on Skin” the vocals begin the song and then the layering of the instruments begin. He gives each word in the song its own moment. He allows the words to linger when needed, and he gives certain words some more length and vibrato.

“Rome” and “Coil” are the slower songs that show off how well Hitchcock can build a song into an experience. Meanwhile, “Trinity Eye” and “Pantheon” pick the pace back up which gives the album a good variety while still remaining true to the overall theme of the album.

The last three songs give the album a little bit of spiciness because they are all very different from the rest of the tracks.

“The Very Last Platform” is a song unlike any other on the album. The vocals have a muffled, metallic sound to them and there are much more industrial sounds that can be compared to the band the Neighborhood with their dark songs.

“Speechless” is a true musical experience with six and a half minutes of lyrical poetry, key changes and pure talent.

Hitchcock ends the album with a trance-like piece titled “The Universe is Expanding” and when you listen to it, you can hear just that. This a very inspiring and unique way to end the album that was not only for musical pleasure but it took the listener on a journey. - The Arkansas Traveler


Still working on that hot first release.



Paper Anthem is the brainchild of Fayetteville, Arkansas twenty-something Joseph Hitchcock.  Though the name Paper Anthem wasn't chosen till 2014, the project began as an emotional outlet in November 2013 when Hitchcock first started playing shows to mostly empty bars.
Hitchcock has been making music for as long as he can remember, first taking piano lessons at the age of six. From there he learned to play the guitar and found his voice and, after dabbling in roles in other bands here and there, decided it was time to work on some of his personal material. 

Though the songs on By Ghosts weren't written to connect as an album, they were conceived during a particularly susceptible period in Hitchcock's life. His subconscious had found a way to abstractly bottle his thoughts and emotions.  Looking at the album as a whole, however, consistent themes emerge and become readily apparent.  Born in Arkansas, he says also that feeling stuck in small towns has forced him to imagine grander imagery through his lyrics. 

Taking inspiration from a diverse range of artists (everyone from Vast to Tom Vek, Foals to Snow Patrol, Tegan & Sara to Eno), Hitchcock fuses elements of pop, big beat electronica, piano rock, and even math rock. "Some of my songs are inspired by the way two guitars often work together in math rock, but done on piano instead with my two hands" he says.
"When I was a teenager, I listened to a lot of drum and bass and big beat electronica, and I think the way those songs add instruments one-by-one and build influenced me greatly, because I find myself doing that on songs like 'Cardboard Cove', 'Pantheon', and 'Speechless'."

Band Members