The Death Of The Paper Boy

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 14, 2008

Morel describes his double CD Death of the Paper Boy as "11 news songs about the things that bring you down." OK, he said it, not me.

Well known for DJing parties in Washington and, more recently, New York, that are popular with a bear (hot bear!) crowd, Morel is on the brink of breaking out of the gay-music ghetto into the wider world. He produced three songs on Cindi Lauper's dynamite recent CD, "Bring Ya Back to the Brink," including "Same Old Fucking Story," which has been in super-heavy rotation on the dance floor.

"Paper Boy" is as well produced as anything by U-2 and the Smiths, the two groups that, to my ears, Morel's music most resembles. Although his genre has been described as "eletropop," it really bridges the divide between U-2's religiously inspired anthemic grandly imagined songs and the Emo-angst of the Morrissey-Beck crowd.

Like U-2, his music is dance-floor friendly without being pigeonholed into the dance-music genre. In that, it partakes heavily of Electroclash. But what the hell: Whatever it is, it's highly enjoyable--despite (because of?) its downbeat themes. The title of one song, "I'm So Low I Keep Falling," pretty well stands for the mood throughout. This is the kind of music heard best in that dark night of the soul where F. Scott Fitgerald said it was always 3 a.m., preferably served with a glass of bourbon, served straight up.

"Paper Boy" also represents a bridge in that one CD presents the songs in a straightforward manner, while the second is a continuous-mix dance EP that any DJ could put on while taking a long bathroom break with a clear conscience. Listening to the mix, I could feel myself transported to Roseland at 4 a.m. the morning of the Black Party; it has that driving but lyrical ethos that makes that party so unique.

Whether "Paper Boy" brings in any new fans, however, is another question. That probably depends as much on how much his small label (which also handles Colton Ford and Ute Lemper--talk about a small but varied A&R list!) can promote it. In these parlous times for the music industry, that's a big "if." But Morel deserves to be known to the wider world of rock and dance fans.

As for the individual songs, the fact that they blend into each other isn't so much a criticism as an acknowledgement of Morel's over-arching artistic vision. The 12 songs together tell a story, probably semi-autobiographical, about a boy's journey into manhood and the disappointments that come with love unrealized.

In that, it strongly resembles the Pet Shop Boys' "Behavior," or even their landmark "Very"--very high praise, at least in my book. But what kept going through my mind during several pleasurable listenings to this music was the ?r-song of gay teen angst, Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy." If Morel's seemingly affectless baritone stands in opposition to Jimmy Somerville's falsetto wail, the theme is the same as the lyrics to "Anymore, Anymore: :
You got time
I got nothing but what's left hanging round
Feeling fine
Wishing I could be the drug that brings you down.

Available at

Morel’s Blowoff parties:
October 31 | The Boatslip | Provincetown
November 15 | Southpaw | Brooklyn
November 22 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC
November 29 | Slim’s | San Francisco
December 20 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC
January 17 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).