Review: Palomino – We Were Doldrums

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Of late, there has been much derisive commentary written about hipsters and indie bands. These individuals/bands are relatively easy targets owing to their ‘don’t look at me please look at me‘ dress code and forced air of nonchalance, something that we as a species disdain.

What can be easily forgotten is that the roots of this movement are based on a lot of bands, who went places that no-one else was going at that time; Joy Division were not “Yes!” by any means, but their feeling and atmosphere has carried on to legions of musicians; myself included.

The Smiths put great emphasis on song craft, wire-baring lyricism and highly adept arrangements. The Stone Roses were, and are, hugely influential(as evidenced by their recent return) and enjoyed in the mainstream by thousands, boasting a boss six stringer by way of John Squire, who himself has been an inspiration to many.

That these roots will and have been watered down is inevitable, as has occurred with every prevailing musical genre throughout the ages. Some bands, however, are capable of seeing past the terrace boorishness, the loutish connections and the po-faced self-importance of this extremely broad genre’s dark side, and embracing the dream-like quality of much of the music.

Palomino are one such group. Despite the brevity of their tenure (at least in their current incarnation) ‘We Were Doldrums‘ is an EP replete with commendable aspects. The instrumental intro is extremely well measured, neither outstaying its welcome nor inviting pretension. The vocals are far from being exacting soul exaltations, but in this wonderfully human context they are exactly what is required. ‘Price We Pay‘ contains some very edgy refrains, particularly redolent of U2’s ‘Unforgettable Fire‘-era, but do not think for a minute that this is an homage.

Palomino have something that is definitely their own on this release, as their guitar lines remain extremely interesting, whilst not biting off more than they can chew, but played for all the world to like; they are the very voice of the band.

A special mention must go to the backing vocals on ‘Gone‘, which are exceptionally organic and, though the word is often misconstrued in this context, beautiful. There is a weight to the vocals-only section that allows the listener a true glimpse into the core of the band.

Lyrically, the story told on ‘Trapped’ (where Tom Verlaine’s mercurial guitar rears its head) is an all-too familiar one of not only peer pressure but also the insistent nature of Madchester’s original culture. Don’t take pills, it states emphatically, even if everyone is telling you to do it to be part of something.

I must confess to truly loving the bass tone on the final ‘A.A.U.U.I.D.M.‘, plunging, grinding, rasping and purposeful. Good chorus too, which is a must for a band of this nature. My only criticism is that it isn’t long enough – the end comes and I want to hear more of it. That being said, as criticisms go. it is a liberating one.

This is a great release by a young band with a good dollop of potential. If encouraged and supported, these guys will pull out some serious stuff in the months and years to come; and I genuinely look forward to where they’re going. Fans of Spiritualized, U2, The Charlatans and Gang Of Four will find much to like here, and nothing should stop you hitting play below to see exactly what I mean.

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