Song of the day – 539: Burnt Palms
Someone’s made a video specially for Collapse Board*. How cool is that?
You’ve heard this style of music before, in all probability. What you won’t have experienced is this style of music played with such disarming charm, such rightness of choice. As Erika recently wrote about Burnt Palms’ self-titled album (available from their Bandcamp here):
This is everything that the last Best Coast album should have been – just slightly rough-around-the-edges fuzz-pop with lyrics that are straightforward without being completely vapid. I have a total soft spot for the Breeders-patented formula of sweet female vocals over crunchy guitars, and this band kind of nails it. (Obligatory backwards-gazing for 2012)
Burnt Palms are two ladies (Christina, Clara) on vocals drums guitar, and a dude on bass. They’re from California. They sing about the surf, the sun and the sand, and failed relationships. Sound familiar? Forget that, and STOP! for a moment. Trust me.
Let’s go waltzing back in time, with Ramones. Long time back, when Ramones formed – and first toured America – everywhere they played, up sprang miniature, slightly mutated copies of themselves. Most of them were immediately forgettable, some were cynical brazen attempts to cash in on a prevalent sound, some were fine indeed… and one or two were god-Given genius. I’m sure you know who I’m thinking of:
My point being, better to have Ramones as your template than The Clash. Or Radiohead.
Flash forward several decades, to Vivian Girls and nufuzzworld, or whatever the hell it was Tamsin called it. Femme-pop. Reverb-drenched ennui. Gorgeousity. Crush upon crush upon crush. The entire world reduced down to a delirious deluge of two chords and over-saturation. As I wrote in Bust a few years ago:
The dudes are really floundering now. Vivian Girls sparked a whole flurry of gorgeous ennui-, sun- and reverb-drenched femme-pop with their debut a few years back. Like the cool girl’s Ramones: everywhere you turned, it seemed that suddenly everyone was admitting to a lifelong infatuation with Ronnie Spector AND hardcore punk AND tattoos AND kittens. Drums clattered, guitars bubbled over in excitement at being thrashed so rapturously. (Review of Share The Joy)
So many bands, so much inspiration, so few worthy to follow on and carry the flame themselves. A few just cynical brazen attempts to cash in on a prevalent sound. (Oh, you’ll never guess who I’m thinking of here.) Some are fine indeed. And one or two are god-Given genius. Case in point:
If you can’t immediately spot the yawning cavernous divide between this and the new stuff from Dum Dum Girls (say) then I would humbly suggest that you’re probably at the wrong website. (Flash backwards 30 years once more: it’s the crucial difference between Shop Assistants and The Primitives.) I’m not denying that a band can fluke a good song. And that’s fine. The more good songs, of course the better. But sometimes I just want to have something to believe in. Especially when it comes to music that forms such a crucial part of my heartland territory.
The sound is only part of it, of course.
Summer is on the horizon, and Burnt Palms are just about the most perfect band to spend it with.
*They didn’t have one made yet, but said they’d been meaning to, and asked me which song I preferred. So I nominated the upbeat charmer ‘Yours Not Mine’. But I almost prefer the plaintive ‘Ghost Love’, which nails those dissonant harmonies so brilliantly you begin wondering why EVERY band can’t. Or the pleading, subtle ‘In My Mind’. Or the Shop Assistants-esque ‘In The Sand’. Or ‘Just For Me’, which could be from Oly WA circa 1987. Or…
I think you get the idea.