Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr On a chilly December evening in Portland, Papercuts fits right in. The fog drifting in off the Willamette, casting its luminescence in clumps near each streetlight, and the heavy moist sheen accumulating around every planed surface in sight serves as a perfect analog for the Northern Californian act’s brand of swirling, shimmery pop songcraft. Technically a solo affair, with lead guitarist/vocalist Jason Quever the only permanent member, but touring as a four piece, their full-figured, dense and dreamy sound would work well in any colder clime, or even perhaps as accompaniment to the thin film of gray atmosphere that hangs in late summer over the Bay Area, Quever’s chosen home. Dreary nights, however, have little on Papercuts’ quietly defiant preciousness, nor on the painstaking arrangements Quever puts at the center of nearly every Papercuts tune, even below the vaulted ceiling and pale, dim lights of combination sandwich shop/art gallery/drinking hole/music venue Bunk Bar, situated in Portland’s gritty industrial east waterfront district. Inside, the casual vibe and low-key setup (Bunk Bar lacking a stage in the traditional sense of the word) lent Quever, backed by frequent contributors David Enos (keys), Frankie Koeller (bass) and Graham Hill (drums), the air of someone playing an open mic, or just charitably scoring bar patrons’ Saturday evening with lush compositions pulled in at least some small part from a decidedly bygone, and more lo-fi, era. Counting off intros to his compressed miniatures in an umber-colored jacket, brown boots and black jeans with worn-in knees, Quever’s performance alternated between bouts of disaffected play and spirited recitation, par for the course when it comes to tracks off last year’s similarly scattered Fading Parade. But in any case, his strained-whisper vocals and easy strum, languid and almost absent-minded but prone to sudden frenetic activity (like someone involuntarily slipping in and out of a deep slumber) whenever the song’s tempo picked up even the slightest bit, was the anchor for each of the band’s turns. The rumbling “Chills,” per its momentous energy, was a notable exception, keeping constant and measured in tone throughout. The thick licks, staccato guitar and haunted backing vocals on “White Are the Waves,” however, contrasted starkly against the sluggish percussive step set (and dutifully followed by Koeller on bass) by Hill, rolling up the sleeves of his white shirt and loosening his scarf despite the slow play, and the brisk 35-degree temperature outside at constant risk of infiltrating the venue. Dealing in tremolo, redemptive-sounding open chords and expansive, oblique wanderings, Quever’s guitar pulled its weight, even as his understated vocals sometimes took a back seat throughout the evening, swallowed up in Bunk Bar’s ambiance and dissipated against the dusty mural that served as the band’s backdrop. Where his wry, unassuming lyrics and throaty, wavering delivery held the slightest power, though, both guitar and vocals seemed to benefit, as on set closers “Do What You Will” and “Do You Really Wanna Know.” The latter, upbeat and chipper by Papercuts standards and featuring a percussive cadence that gave Quever’s tremolo styling and half-legible vocals a trembling power, was a late highlight in the set. And “Do What You Will,” with the assemblage of pedals being pushed at Quever’s feet rendering the already-excitable tune outsized and oppressive, was one of the more enthusiastic presentations of the night, colored by occasional autoharp washes from Enos and tight individual focus from each of Papercuts’ members. Wrapping up without an encore and with little more than a non-committal sign-off from Quever (“It was really fun”), Papercuts effortlessly disintegrated into the crowd, the whole of the cramped venue’s 80-plus in attendance spilling out onto the sidewalk lining Bunk Bar’s entrance; just another moonlit night for a band that seems, almost vampirically, to feed off such a milieu, constructing warm pop gems out of the frigid, wet dark.