Back in the summer of 2005, my brother, some friends, and I started performing a few cover tunes each Monday night at an open mic at Martini Red, a dive bar in Stapleton, Staten Island. A quartet of college students called Paragraph also performed each week, and they were by far the most exciting original act I had seen on the island. Their early stuff was mostly quirky dance-punk — angular, Gang-of-Four-type guitar stabs, driving bass lines and disco beats — fun, catchy, and always danceable.
The quartet became a trio, and over the years they honed their sound, experimenting with drum machines, adding layers of keyboards, working with other local musicians, and in 2009 they released a self-titled eight-track disc. “Body Part(y)” is one of the standouts.
Paragraph recently released a video for their single “Powernap,” which is available on a three-song EP, Chic Punk One. As with their self-titled album, the vocals are too buried in the mix for my taste — I have some trouble actually making out what singer Danny Lane is saying — but it’s a fun club-banger of a tune, and the video is slick. (Plus, it employs a variation of my all-time favorite music video conceit: the band traveling to the gig, where they eventually perform the song we’ve been hearing all along [see Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug”].) It’s been a thrill watching these guys grow as a band, and I’m glad they’re around to rep Staten Island.