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Palm plays rock music backwards. Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt’s guitars occupy themselves most often with the pace-keeping work typical of a rhythm section. Meanwhile, Gerasimos Livitsanos’ bass and Hugo Stanley’s drums perform commentary and reportage from their deeply embedded positions at the front. The band is firmly attached to the physicality of rock, but not as much its tone; their instruments tend to sound like any number of things at any given time.
None of the members of Palm are formally trained on their instruments. The band formed in 2011 at college in Upstate New York, when high school friends Eve and Kasra met Gerasimos and Hugo. In those early days, the band was just beginning to forge its collective musical identity through experiments in recording and performing live.
Their first album, Trading Basics (2015), was written in Hudson, NY, a riverside outpost where the group could clarify its intentions outside the direct influence of nearby cultural capitals. That year, the members of Palm relocated to Philadelphia, where they continue to live only a few blocks apart from one another. This proximity has facilitated a level of collaboration necessary for a sound so slippery to remain in the firm grasp of its players.
On 2017’s Shadow Expert EP, they made use of the steady hand granted by a tireless touring schedule, cutting their songs to efficiencies of pop confection without sacrificing the avant-adventurism at the center. The effort was met with praise from such outlets as Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, and Tiny Mix Tapes, who likened the sound variously to Stereolab, Slint, Sonic Youth and Broadcast. With Rock Island (2018), Palm excuses the company of these myriad influences with a sly brush of a hand, ushering the listener into a new domain, thrillingly strange for all its familiarity.
Baltimore-based guitar band Wildhoney have navigated through a grand canyon of pop music to create Your Face Sideways, a new 12″ EP out on Topshelf Records on October 16, 2015. Traveling forward under a clear sky, Wildhoney pass under a series of constellations: first the Shangri-Las Nebula, then the rarely seen Cocteau Twins Hydra. Heard along the road through open windows, carols of Patsy Cline echo like siren songs.
In Wildhoney’s dark, lucid, and hook-heavy landscape, Zach Inscho plays drums, Joe Trainor and Nathan O’Dell play guitars, Alan Everhart plays bass, and Lauren Shusterich sings. Together the group makes their own sense of the pop tradition, as heard on recent tours with Ceremony, Eternal Summers and Whirr. Many have noticed the band’s energy and efforts, and it has earned them high praise from NPR, the Chicago Tribune, Noisey, Impose, and Brooklyn Vegan amongst others.
On their 2015 debut LP Sleep Through It (Deranged/Forward Records), Wildhoney proved themselves masters of creating a cohesive, yet diverse, full-length set of songs that left the listener wanting more. Critics noted the band’s thoughtfulness and attention to dynamic. Sleep Through It was preceded by two EPs – a self-titled release (Nostalgium Directive) that showed off the band’s heavy punk influences and first nervous forays into pop, and Seventeen Forever (Photobooth Records) on which the group advanced bravely forward, refining their sound and highlighting their catchy vocal melodies.
Wildhoney choose to use songwriting and melody as primary vehicles on their pop excursions, a traditional approach they first proposed on Sleep Through It and wholly celebrate on Your Face Sideways. The five songs on Side A of the EP were recorded at Marlborough Farms by New York pop legend Gary Olson (Jens Leckman, Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose, Literature, Architecture in Helsinki), and are steered by Shusterich’s vocals. Like a sculptor, Shusterich molds her voice to carry sweet melodies against uptempo instrumentation, poetically exploring loss and depression through her lyrics. The long, slower composition “FSA II” comprises the entirely of Side B, expanding on what was explored on “FSA” on their debut LP. Recorded in Baltimore by Jordan Romero in his bedroom directly to tape, the track uses sparse repetition, minimal guitar, glockenspiel, flute, synths and field recordings to remind the listener that while noise and effects may come and go, Wildhoney hold a map to pop magic by way of many alternate routes to come, both of the heart and the head.