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The Paranoid Style

The Paranoid Style is a sprawling garage-punk-pop outfit built around singer and songwriter Elizabeth Nelson, who counts T. Rex, the Mekons, and Elvis Costello among her influences. Nelson's articulate vocal delivery is fitting for a band named after historian Richard J. Hofstadter's 1964 essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." She and her husband, Timothy Bracy of the Mendoza Line, lead a fluctuating lineup sometimes numbering over a dozen players. They established their protest- and satire-minded approach on a string of EPs leading up to their full-length debut, 2016's Rolling Disclosure. With that era's socio-political climate providing endless inspiration and motivation, they continued to release a steady stream of EPs, singles, and LPs over the next decade, including the long-players A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (2019), For Executive Meeting (2022), and The Interrogator (2024), with the latter welcoming the dB's Peter Holsapple to the official lineup. Formed in Washington, D.C. in 2012, the Paranoid Style were soon invited to join the roster at Bar/None Records, which digitally released their first EP, The Purposes of Music in General, in March 2013. It included a cover of Belle and Sebastian's "Like Dylan in the Movies." Misra Records combined The Purposes of Music in General with the project's second EP, The Power of Our Proven System, for a cassette release that November. A third EP, the more aggressive and strutting Rock & Roll Just Can’t Recall, appeared on Battle Worldwide Recordings in March of 2015. All three EPs combined protest, satire, and pop culture, a trademark of all Paranoid Style releases. The band's full-length debut, Rolling Disclosure, arrived on Bar/None in July of 2016 and included a cover of Wreckless Eric's "Duvet Fever." While all the original songs were written by Nelson and Bracy, the album's ten-member lineup also included personalities like the Minus 5's Scott McCaughey and the A-Bones' Bruce Bennett. Next up for the group was the EP Underworld USA, whose personnel included Bennett and the dB's Peter Holsapple. It appeared on Bar/None in October 2017. A split single with Wussy followed in 2018, as did an expanded version of Rock & Roll Just Can't Recall (Rock & Roll Just Can't Recall + 3). 2019 saw the release of their sophomore LP, A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life. Packed with references, its most conspicuous was a take on Neil Young in the form of "Expecting to Fly (Economy)." In 2020, a live compilation called The Paranoid Style in Jammin Java Outrage!! consisted mainly of an April 2018 show in Vienna, Virginia recorded "by a guy who made it clear he was not a fan" (per the liner notes). The group's third studio album, For Executive Metting, saw release in August 2022. Featuring an appearance by Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood and containing tributes to artist Barney Bubbles and musicians John Prine, David Berman, and Adam Schlesinger, it closed with a cover of Rosanne Cash's "Seven Year Ache." Bar/None issued the group's fourth full-length, The Interrogator, in February 2024. It featured the lineup of Nelson, Bracy, Holsapple (lead guitar), William Matheny (keyboards/guitar), William Corrin (bass), and Jon Langmead (drums), along with guest appearances by Will Rigby (the dB's), Matt Douglas (the Mountain Goats), and Lisa Walker (Wussy).
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo


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