Palma Violets

Palma Violets

For a long time if you wanted to hear the most exciting new band in Britain, you knocked on a tall black door off the Lambeth Road. An aging British Rail building - part art studio happening, part squat – Studio 180 was where south London's Palma Violets were gestating, away from sunlight and the world at large. A thrilling rock'n'roll four piece channeling The Clash, ? And The Mysterions and the Bad Seeds, from September 2011 they were holed-up here writing songs "their friends could dance to" and occasionally putting on celebratory, ecstatic parties about which word quickly spread.

It should be noted that the news of these parties / shows was spread in a manner that harks back to the days before the internet – aka "word of mouth." For until a couple of months ago, Palma Violets had no online presence, no music recorded, and no press team working for them, "We didn't want to put ourselves on Facebook, Youtube or the internet because we hadn't recorded any songs," explains singer Sam Fryers. "We were making this noise together in a room for fun and that's where you had to experience it."

If you got through the door of Studio 180 in that early period, what greeted you was an intoxicating sense of chaos. Beer being sold out of a dustbin in a makeshift kitchen, experimental artwork protruding from every wall, kids milling about, seemingly all friends, just waiting for the moment the band would start to play, normally around 11 at night, but sometimes a whole lot later.

In an airless basement that could hold 50 people, the band would finally appear in a hail of feedback and organ noise, before blazing their way through a short, incredible set: their sound a primitive, wild rock'n'roll music offering echoes of '60s garage and soul but with a defiant Englishness at its core, the band themselves radiating a ferocious energy, encapsulated in the tense and tactile interplay between bassist Chilli Jesson and Fryer but driven forward by the incessant beat of Will Doyle's drumming. After a period of parching drought in British guitar music, this was akin to stumbling across the oasis in the desert just before you and everyone else died of dehydration

"The best way to see a rock'n'roll band is to go and see them play live," elaborates bassist Jesson. "That's all we wanted people to do." "And of course, we hate being in recording studios," laughs Fryer.

Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long for record labels to catch on and in the first few months of 2012, Palmas Violets were courted intensely. From the outset, though, they only ever wanted to sign to one, and that was Rough Trade. As Jesson recalls, "When Rough Trade came down, it was so special. It was like they restored our faith in music. I mean they actually talked about music for a start. Geoff Travis was the only person who picked up on the fact that we were doing a cover of The Riveiras' 'California Sun'. The other guys talked about supermarkets and shelving and how we were going to penetrate the market."

The feeling was mutual, as Rough Trade bosses Jeannette Lee and Geoff Travis are quick to point out. "There's a difference between trying to do something and actually doing it," notes Travis succinctly. "The Palma Violets just have it." Adds Lee, "It may sound corny but it really is to do with the chemistry of the group. In a whole lifetime of listening to music, you probably come across something this special about 10 times ever, that special glue that holds a classic band together. I knew as soon as I saw them that they had to be with us."

It was Rough Trade then that released the band's debut single last fall. The A-side "Best Of Friends" is a raucous and exhilarating blast of primal rock'n'roll, featuring Jesson singing the lead. The B-side "Last Of The Summer Wine" – recorded later with Pulp's Steve Mackey – showcases the other side of the band, drenched as it is in keyboard player Peter Mayhew's oscillating organ surges and singer Fryers' heavily reverbed and deeply evocative vocal.

When it came time to record the album Palma Violets headed into the studio - located on an old boat in East India Docks – with Rory Atwell (formerly of testicicles). He worked on half the album with them and the rest was recorded with Steve Mackey from Pulp at the Fish Factory and RAK. With their limited experience - and by limited we mean zero – in a proper studio, Palma Violets had no idea what an over dub was nor did they care to know. They would often show up to the studio with a bunch of stragglers, enough beer to go around and disco lights which in-turn illuminated 180 directly onto record.

As already noted, there's a difference between trying to do something and actually doing it. For The Palma Violets, everything they do comes from a real love of music and a need to communicate feelings on a forceful basic level. They're not a product of 2012 moodboard culture, they're a pure elemental force.

Give Twin Peaks an inch and they’ll take a stretch of the road. Having careened across America and beyond, sharing their staggering energy, the band made their third album the best way they know how: by themselves. The same group that pro-duced the scuzzy squalor of their debut “Sunken,” had legions of fans screaming along to their anthemic sophomore effort, “Wild Onion,” now swings and serenades with “Down In Heaven” (out on Grand Jury on May 13th).

Co-produced by the band and longtime collaborator R. Andrew Humphrey, and mixed by new confidant John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth), the rec-ord is by turns raw, polished and wise beyond its years. The diverse new songs beg the listener to sway slowly, bang their head wildly and question what they were do-ing wasting emotional time on anything less. It is a marked, and some may say ma-ture, development for a band that doesn’t know how to play it safe. They aren’t here to tell you what youth is like or what being a little older now means, though; they want to join you in a conversation about why we hurt, love and tug at each other.

While Twin Peaks is a bit older, they’re not necessarily calmer; their restlessness endures. Born of Chicago’s league-leading DIY scene and with several of them re-maining friends since elementary school, Cadien Lake James, Clay Frankel, Connor Brodner, Jack Dolan, and most recent addition Colin Croom share an enthusiasm, authenticity and passion their audiences have found contagious. In the three years since dropping out of college to support their debut album “Sunken,” the band has covered a lot of ground. They’ve played to ever-increasing crowds, bigger and row-dier each time they come barreling into a city; they were anointed “Best New Band” by NME and countless other blogs, and they have performed for (and partied with) more than hospitable masses at festivals in the states and Europe, including Pitch-fork, Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, and Roskilde. In between all this action, the group set up camp in the summer of 2015 amidst the solitude of a murky lake in Western Massachusetts, where they could experiment and record on their own terms in the warm living room of a good friend’s house.

Recording on reel-to-reel with the band learning studio tricks on the fly, Twin Peaks set out to a make an LP that reflects how far they’ve come and how much of life is left, trusting themselves to make a record they’d want to hear. James explains, “I’ve been particularly drawn to records that have a more personal feel, not necessarily lyrically, but in sonic aesthetic, like The Kinks Village Green Society, Beatles White Album, and Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet. We wanted to make a record that em-ployed the restraints of our favorite artists from yesteryear. It was about trying to simplify and hone in on the things that are important to our music and ethos.” In considering the development of the band’s sound from “Sunken” to “Wild Onion” and now to “Down in Heaven,” Frankel adds, “The bands we admire are the ones who change drastically over the course of their span, like The Velvet Underground, where no two records of theirs sound the same.”

Whether sneering or pleading, aggressive or impatient, the thirteen tracks of “Down In Heaven” are a continuation of the bands path and an eschewing of previous com-parisons. It is a record all about feel: heartbreak, forgiveness, anger, jubilation, re-invention, growth. Album opener “Walk To The One You Love,” written by James about letting someone close to you go is immediately followed by Frankel’s song “Wanted You,” with lyrics about not getting the one that you yearn for. With “Stain,” perhaps the biggest departure for the band on the record, Frankel says, “I didn’t want another love song, so after a while I got what it is, how you suffer for your art but you put up with it because you don’t wanna do anything else. It’s a song about the love of music.” Even though four of the five members contribute lyrics, there are obvious connections both thematically and musically across the record and the band’s voice rises unified.

“Down in Heaven” will bring old fans and new Twin Peaks most complex record to date, encompassing elements only teased on their previous efforts. Frankel says, “I don’t know yet what kind of band we are, since we keep changing with every year. I guess we are a band unafraid of new influences and changes.” Put simply, “Down In Heaven” makes it increasingly hard to call their sound “classic.” It’s rock new and old, it’s a little bit of country, it’s a whole lot of punk attitude, and it’s something to get excited about. Twin Peaks is here to stay, and they aren’t going to get pinned down.

$13.00 - $15.00

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