Palms – Palms

Artist Palms
Album Palms
Genre Post-Rock | Post-Metal | Experimental
Buy/DL Bluecollar Distro | Itunes
Web | Facebook
Label ipecac
Release 25 June 2013
Rating:  Average

I’m in an interesting position here. This is a fairly big name group, consisting of members from two of my favorite bands, and yet, I wish it wasn’t.

If you don’t know, Palms is the new project from almost all of Isis (with the sole exception of Michael Gallagher) and Chino Moreno of Deftones, and lately, Crosses, fame. Heavy hitters, no doubt about it. Isis practically wrote the book on post-metal for christ’s sake! That’s why it’s so hard for me to write what I’m about to write.

Palms self-titled debut isn’t all that special. It has its moments of really striking beauty and mood, but I expected so much more than what I feel I got. To me, this is watered down Isis with Chino doing Chino over it.  I would have thought that we’d be treated to something groundbreaking or profound. Unfortunately it’s an interesting listen a few times, and that’s it. For a band like this, that’s just not enough for me.

Palms’ vibe is pretty slick, in an angst-ridden 20-something coming down off of molly at sunset in southern California way. In this, the album is quite effective. However, it was never stated that this was its mission. In fact, with all the hype around this project, not much was actually said about its substance.

Chino sings/caterwauls some cryptic phrases amidst the insubstantial songs, adding a melody or counter-melody. It’s interesting for a time, but honestly, the replay value is pretty low for me. Once again, let me stress, I love the Deftones, and I love Isis. I also find Chino’s side project, Crosses, extremely good, and fairly innovative in its amalgamation of elements. This, though…this is a letdown.

I try to judge everything I listen to in such a way that if a friend were to have made it, what would I say to praise and/or critique him/her? I don’t usually buy into the rockstarishness of things, and post- music is a great thing to be reviewing in this sense, as usually it’s the music that speaks, as opposed to the resume of the musicians.

While I do think Palms is worth a listen or two, in such a competitive market so full of diversity and choices, I don’t know if I could recommend this for actual purchase. This has nothing to do with the status of the players, because lord knows I own everything I’ve been able to get my hands on by the former bands involved, in multiple formats, and have seen them live as many times as I was able. It’s simply because there’s nothing new here, and the things that are here aren’t so well done that this is a keystone to the genres or “movements” involved. You get a semi-heavy third wave post-rock, with more laid- back Deftones vocals (all over…extremely prevalent) done less progressively then Isis has ever done.

Sonically, this record is produced well, but not exceptionally. There’s a lot of slow panning that gets repetitive and doesn’t really serve the songs (“Antarctic Handshake” is a great example of this) and many textures that have a hard time actually meshing, but are not dissonant enough to be exciting. The whole album seems to be mixed towards favoring the high end of the frequency spectrum, which becomes physically tiresome as well as aurally. Vocals are done in a manner that is very forward in the mix. Pulling them back would have added a little nuance and depth.

Everyone here plays music exceedingly well. There is no question of competency here. The songs are just tepid. I feel like instead of making love to an attractive, exotic woman, I just jerked off to some 90’s VHS Andrew Blake porn.