One of my favorite new groups of 2012 that have “hit the ground the running” and emerged as a band I try to catch every time they play is PALMS. There are other groups that debuted this year that I knew couldn’t disappoint, like supergroup Zero Zero (who play with PALMS quite often!), but PALMS was an unexpected surprise at how great they were from the onset and how quickly they garnered my favor. Today, as a special Christmas present for all their fans, PALMS has released their new single “Dirty Little Knees” and today only, you can download it for free from their bandcamp site. The first time I heard them play this track live was at Crescent Ballroom some months ago, it was enough of a mind blower that I had to ask the band about it afterward. It was clearly one of the best songs in the set and thought that night was magical in and of itself, that song just stood out, perhaps because it was brand new, but more likely because it was just bloody brilliant. Additionally, this band just has an amazing chemistry, whether it is the brilliant rhythmic groove woven between Spike Brendle’s basswork and Derek Cooper’s drumming or the indie surf guitar work of Anthony Maniscalco or, of course the transplendent vocals of the otherworldy Melody Michelle, who I am convinced more and more is not from this planet–though that was my first impression anyway, when I watched them entranced at Long Wong’s the first night I saw them play live.
“Dirty Little Knees” shows off how far PALMS have come since their double sided single release of “Oasis”/”Coyotes” earlier this year–the playing is tighter, stronger, their sound a little more naturally forceful. There is a roar to the entire affair that causes a hurricane in your head, while Melody’s vocals hold you to the center of the storm as the maelstrom envelopes you. It’s clear to see, now hearing the recording, why this song was so powerful that evening at Crescent–it exceeds their beach pop template and lands them squarely into pure indie rock territory. It’s a little darker, a little starker and shows more depth than their previous releases, though like those songs, their signature sound is firmly embedded and the reverberating echoed atmosphere only serves to take you along for the ride in much the same way their live performances do. This is an amazing feat as their live act has far outshadowed their recordings…until now. Everyone in the band is giving their all here and it is too great effect, Melody’s vocals become an instrument unto themself, perfectly balanced with the cyclonic pounding wrapping all around them. Lyrically, it covers the reflections in the aftermath of a fiery, apocalyptic relationship, reducing each partner to “dirty little knees” –brilliant told in raw honesty, from the point of view of strength overcoming weakness. The perspective has a touch of bitterness, honed with brutal frankness, “Don’t tell me that you loved me, Don’t tell me that you cared, It was the real me that you couldn’t bear, We were never nothing, Just a little something, You didn’t mean much, You took up my time, Come on baby, You wanted some of me, Too bad we clashed and never really combined.” Absolutely brilliant.
“Dirty Little Knees” also happens to be the first single release since PALMS have signed with 80/20 Records and this is sure to be the start of what I certainly hope will lead to a magnificent album release in 2013, as they have been spending a fair share of time in the studio with Bob Hoag. PALMS are definitely one of THE bands to watch in the New Year, as their live shows only get better with each gig and clearly their recorded output will expand mightily. This is one of the bands on my radar, from whom, I eagerly anticipate witnessing each and every move they make. They are definitely a current highlight in the sounds around town that I’ve found alluring at ever turn.