Big kitty cuts

The final show’s over and the guitar’s packed snugly in the back of Maureen Maki’s Toyota Corolla station wagon, but we haven’t heard the end of Paper Tiger. Maureen’s leaving something behind for her friends besides furniture and her fetching art work. Along with bandmate Neil Yee (drums, vocals), she has released Hoopla, Paper Tiger’s debut CD, just in time for her big move and the band’s demise.

Friends and fans should be happy with the souvenir. Hoopla mirrors the tense aggression of the stripped-down and happy-to-be-so duo’s animated and amusing live performances. It’s clear from the beginning that the band includes one part artist and one part sound guy extraordinaire. They know the rules and they break them. Just like Maureen’s painting which adorns the cover, the music is girly at times, masculine at others, but always dirty. The drums work as melody at times, the guitar as percussion.

Starting strong with “Shining Down,” gritty feedback nourishes bob-your-head drum work right on into the simple pop opening of “Sky.” The song’s abrupt roars and screams will throw you back no matter how many times you’ve heard them. In “Hit Single,” the two play off of each other in a “Jack and Diane” kind of way that makes me miss torn blue jeans. Hoopla’s overall sound also leaves one reminiscing over the pop serenity of Bettie Serveert’s Palomine or the unaffected attitude of Liz Phair’s White Chocolate Space Egg.

Paper Tiger’s album has bite, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to stick your head in its mouth.

Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times music writer. E-mail [email protected].

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