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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 203 - 03/27/13

Palma Violets
Rough Trade

Palma Violets were one of the big hypes in England last year. The quartet hails from Lambeth, London, and their debut single "Best Of Friends" (which is 180's opening track) was voted 'Song Of The Year' by NME, and at the NME awards (held in late February, some weeks ago) they were awarded 'Best new band in Britain'. "No way! This is amazing! I can't believe it! Thanks everyone at fucking Rough Trade", bassist/vocalist Alexander 'Chilli' Jensen bursted out, before he jumped on-stage first before shouting "Free Pussy Riot!" as he left with the award.

The quartet - the aforementioned Jesson (vocals, bass), Samuel Thomas 'Sam' Fryer (vocals, guitar), Jeffrey Peter Mayhew (keyboards), and William Martin Doyle (drums) - play rock with a bratty, cocky attitude and a 'garage-ish' expression, but they're not without nuances. This is not the '1-2-3-4-go!' thing. Palma Violets heavy use of keyboard in their sound/songs, pull them away from many a regular bratty, cocky rock band. 180 was produced by Steve Mackey (of Pulp) and Rory Attwell (once part of the now defunct punkster combo Test Icicles). I guess that could be a reference point as well, if one could imagine Pulp and Test Icicles crisscrossing each other. In musical style Palma Violets follow a long line of bands from the 1960s, throughout the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and up to the present, such as: The Who, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, Ramones, The Clash, Iggy Pop, (only slightly) Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and later on Spiritualized, The Strokes, The Libertines (plus Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things), Glasvegas, maybe even The Vaccines and The Arctic Monkeys should be listed.

180 opens with their debut single "Best Of Friends", and it's sort of like a slogan, a motto, or an emblem for the band. It's a cool and energetic song, and I can understand why (and how) it propelled and launched the band in their homeland. Even though the British music papers have a long tradition of hyping their local bands to the skies and above, they sometimes make a hit with their foreseeing. The keyboard driven "Step Up for the Cool Cats" is where Spiritualized (and The J&MC) shines through. "All the Garden Birds" comes as a surprise, and I'm almost recalling The Feelies in parts of the song. The Feelies meets The Strokes. Well, namedropping aside; it's a bad habit, or a bad sign for a band being reviewed, dropping names all the time as a description of the music. Sometimes it's hard to avoid, and sometimes I guess it's an honour for a band to be compared to possible faves/heros/models.

Palma Violets do have their own expression as a band, and 180 is enjoyable listening. Nevertheless, in my view I think they should've trimmed the album a bit; maybe cut away a couple of songs and presented a dynamite half hour. Anyway, 180 is cool. They do sound 'for real'. Come on do the Lambeth walk!

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