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The single most pretentious piece of music journalism I ever witnessed occurred following the death of the bass player out of Chic when one hack lamented ‘now I know how you all felt when Kurt Cobain died’. A preposterous statement (although these were my thoughts exactly this week following the death of Richard Briers). The serious music press likes to think itself above the ‘populist’ yet knows it has to fall in line when it comes to up and coming popular bands - a slagging never looks good when the band then goes on to worldwide success.
The Palma Violets have very quickly become the new next big thing and the press is charged with attempting to turn itself inside out trying to ascertain what the musical merits of them are. I’m delighted to report that the Palma Violets debut is no abomination - we all remember The Others for a good example of how press hype was followed by a collective shrug and the band soon disappeared.
It is also my duty to advise caution that this is no second coming, no life changing band, no Smiths, no Stone Roses...or whatever. The band has been thrust into the limelight quickly and it shows. They have one foot in a kind of Question Mark and the Mysterians organ driven ‘60s fuzz pop and the other is firmly in The Vaccines singalong guitar pop for the masses. The singer has a voice which is the most foghorn-like since the days of Noddy Holder. He shouts throughout at the top of his voice like a particularly rambunctious toddler.
They borrow tunes left right and centre ‘Step Up for Cool Cats’ is ‘I Am A Believer’ as performed by The Stranglers, ‘All The Gardens Birds’ is exactly the same song as The Feelies ‘Higher Ground’ (this can’t be intentional) before ending with a vocal lift from The Kinks ‘All of My Friends Were There’. ‘Rattlesnake Highway’ sounds very much like some early Clash song or other and ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ is less Ronnie Hazlehurst and somewhere between The Velvet Underground and The Strokes.
But the sorta familiar songs work to the bands advantage in that they are instantly familiar, it’s like a patchwork quilt of other peoples music performed with enthusiasm, the monochrome gritty, reverby production gives you the impression that they are performing in some darkened dive to hundreds of sweaty onlookers. Nothing new to see here but it does the job.
7/10 Jackson Customer review, 29th August 2014
Ordered this LP a couple of weeks ago after being intrigued by the single 'Best of Friends' and, after seeing them live just a few days ago at Leeds Festival (sadly, I was too busy seeing bands to pop into the store), they really lived up to their 50s-inspired indie rock status. The jangly guitars and clean tone, reverb-soaked riffs worked well for the more sing-along tracks, such as 'Chicken Dippers' and 'Last of the Summer Wine', although this style became a little repetitive towards the end of the album and their attempts to diversify their sound with 'Three Stars' - a cover of the 1959 Tommy Dee song - lacked the vibrancy and excitement shown on side A. However, Palma Violets' youthful charm was redeemed on the final track, '14', with a chorus you simply can't help but imagine the hoards of sweaty teenagers belting out the words to at every gig.
Overall, a decent album with some interesting influences and even more interesting sounds. An absolutely brilliant band to see live (which I highly recommend), I feel like these guys could be at the forefront of an indie rock resurgence. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future. Thank you once again, Norman Records!
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