Avant-garde adaptations of modern rock are difficult to come by. Oftentimes rock artists can easily be compared to those that came before them.
Palm, coming to Der Rathskeller at Memorial Union Friday, Feb. 23, is not one of those artists.
There are a multitude of descriptors that try their best to encapsulate Palm’s particular genre. Palm has been described as math rock, pop-rock and art rock, just to name a few. Eve Alpert, Palm’s guitarist and vocalist, understands genre identification is a hot topic.
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“I’ve thought about a lot of us as sort of the death of rock music in general, and how that’s such a conversation piece in the last few years,” Alpert said. “We are trying to embrace the genre, despite all of its problems and all of the regurgitation that occurs in the genre. We’re trying to celebrate it and twist it on its head.”
With such a mission in mind, Palm’s music often abandons the formulaic verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format, instead offering a more complex conversation between instruments that brings mesmerizing repetitions to the table.
Alpert and fellow bandmate Kasra Kurt sought to form Palm during their time at college, where they found local bands to influence their sound.
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“I think we got lucky we were able to see a lot of weird, uncommon music,” Alpert said.
Alpert said local no wave bands were greater influences on Palm’s sound during their formative years, as well as the likes of Sonic Youth and Stereolab.
Palm’s dense instrumentals and vocals seem to complement each other in a enthralling rhythm that functions and networks like a well-oiled machine — a machine that will grab your attention and charm it into staying a bit longer than it initially intended to.
It’s difficult to rival such a sense of captivation invoked by a multiplicity of sounds and rhythms that can be heard throughout a number of their tracks. This anomalous rhythm-making is what makes Palm’s music almost hypnotic in nature.
Alpert said Palm’s music could best be associated with the visuals of a skipping record, or the lines that appear on a paused VHS tape. Alpert described their music as “bright and colorful, but still really fragmented.”
Palm released their latest album, Rock Island, on Feb. 9. Since Palm originally formed in 2011, they’ve been carefully crafting a distinctive sound ever since. This record in particular is a notably intentional effort by the band, Alpert said.
“We’re all really happy with everything about it,” Alpert said. “It was much more of a conscious effort to make the songs cohesive. We were able to really think about the record as a whole and what it could be, so it’s thematically more intentional.”
That’s not to say that Palm’s previous releases are with any less merit, but Rock Island is markedly more aware of how it wishes to present itself. Even more to the point, even the title Rock Island denotes the hard work they’ve put into their new music.
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Distinguished from previous works by this strive to test their own limits and create a unified album, Rock Island has truly resonated with its band members. Alpert said that’s the signifying difference between Rock Island and previous releases like 2015’s Trading Basics.
“It first popped into our heads when we visited Rock Island, Illinois on tour,” Alpert said. “When we felt like we were really being productive in our basement, working really hard in this dank, dark, dungeon-like basement, we felt like we were on ‘rock island’ and really pushing it.”
Palm’s seeming constant upward sprawl into the world of innovative rock music has taken them to new heights that seem unfettered by the modern approach to songwriting. To see this band’s inventive take on rock music in action, find them performing at Der Rathskeller on Feb. 23 at 9:00 p.m.