Matt’s Music Corner: New album by Palm Keeps Exploring Sounds, Stays Weird
For my money, Palm is the most exciting band in rock music currently, not only for what they’re doing currently, but what I’m expecting them to do in the years to come. While they aren’t the first band to play around with odd time signatures and unique instrumentation, there’s not a band who does it as effortlessly and as engagingly as Palm.
A little history lesson though before we continue, while the band originates from Philadelphia, the band’s current lineup formed in Bard College in New York, as guitarists and vocalists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt recruited bass player Gerasimos Livitsanos and drummer Hugo Stanley from the school. The band would go on to release their debut album, “Trading Basics,” in 2015 to some acclaim, but their popularity would continue to rise via word of mouth, mainly due to their live shows and their studio sessions with Audiotree in 2016.
The band’s popularity reached a new peak in 2017 when they announced they signed to Carpark Records, who’d be releasing a new EP called “Shadow Expert” later in the summer, with a new LP on the horizon for 2018. Of course, that new LP is this week’s album of the week, “Rock Island.” The band explores new sounds and influences on the new album, embracing a more pop-influenced style of songwriting while not losing any of the weirdness that made them stand out in the first place. I saw someone on YouTube describe Palm as “sitting in the bathtub listening to the Beach Boys while having a bad acid trip,” and uh, yeah, that’s pretty appropriate, especially for this album. Cuts like “Dog Milk” and “Bread” take you on strange journeys, with new guitar lines and random sound effects popping out of seemingly nowhere, in most cases, should keep you from finding a place of comfort in their music, but weirdly doesn’t.
For me, that’s the beauty of Palm. On the surface, there’s a lot happening in these songs. Songs like “Forced Hand” seemingly have the band playing out of sync with each other, making some people wonder where they’re able to find a steady groove within the song. And honestly, this is a valid criticism as there are times they end up finding a great melody or groove in a song but don’t end up sticking with it. However, that’s also what I like so much about Palm. To describe the band with my own analogy, listening to Palm is like listening to the sonic equivalent of your own anxiety attacks. While for the most part, I don’t want to revisit my own anxiety attacks, it’s different this way. I find comfort in Palm I haven’t felt in any band in a long time, in that listening to their music feels how I feel almost all the time. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most, if music makes you feel something.
“Rock Island” is out now via Carpark Records: http://smarturl.it/rockisland_dsps
By Matt Monroe