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Polk Palmer - Here in the Deadlights
CD Album 2015 | Silber 192
9 tracks, 31 minutes
$12($18 international, $5 download)
: Listen to the track The Call
: Press Release
: Listen on Bandcamp
Down the River
Better in the Books
Embryonic Language Pilgrims
Cool moody modern pop that creates atmospheres. This album is connected with two of our favorite things: the Silber label and the city of Savannah, Georgia. Not surprisingly...we love the hilariously-titled Here In The Deadlights. According to the press release that accompanied this album, Palmer is influenced by artists like Joy Division, The Church, Echo The Bunnymen, Bauhaus, and others. This album lives up to expectations. On these nine tracks Philip Polk Palmer effectively combines the trademark sound of the Silber label with the totally groovy vibes of the city of Savannah. If you've never been to Savannah you owe it to yourself to visit this most remarkable city. But if you can't make the physical trip, Here In The Deadlights will provide the perfect mental trip. These songs manage to convey the sights and sounds we associate with all those great old buildings, swaying live oak trees, fantastic old cemeteries, and drooping Spanish moss that sways in the breeze. Recorded by Brian John Mitchell (except for the track "Apparition" which was recorded by Andy Baker), this is easily one of the best releases we've heard on the Silber label. Killer tracks include "Down The River," "Frog Strangler," "Joyride," and "Goodbye." Recommended. Top pick.
Philip Polk Palmer draws from a wide variety of styles on the kaleidoscopic, psychedelic rhythms of “Here in the Deadlights”. Disoriented and dazed, the songs exist in a surreal haze. Nicely drawing from goth, folk, with tinges of the Doors thrown in for good measure, much of the album has an ancient ceremonial aura to it. By opting for such an approach the pieces positively teem with life. Over the course of the album the haunting melodies and resonant vocals come together as one. Through this approach, the songs manage to permeate themselves deep into the mind.
Setting the tone of the album is the economic mechanical groove of “Down the River” which plays akin to a bluesy chant given eerie undertones. The sleepy attitude continues the journey of “Better in the Books”. One of the truly strangest pieces on the album is the highlight of “Frog Strangler” where the vocals conjure up the best of Jim Morrison’s dry poetic delivery. Poppy in nature is the rather spirited “The Call” with a melody that lingers in the mind long after it is over. Kept to the essentials the piece has a hallucinatory quality to it. Driving rhythms are employed to great effect on “Joyride”. Rather mellow in temperament is the spacious atmosphere of “Seeing Stars”. Aptly named “Goodbye” ends the album on a tender note.
With “Here in the Deadlights” Philip Polk Palmer opts for a cryptic sound, one that feels timeless.
~ Beach Sloth
Pretty evil. This is a slab of considered rock noir stylings. Obviously, the pretty people are quick to invoke Nick Cave, but less pretty people who have had a couple of drinks are equally quick to mention early Pink Floyd, albeit the Floyd who were the house band at some mescaline on draught roadhouse.
This means that there is lots of shimmer, lots of drone, guitars that scrabble around the edges of the mix like crippled spiders, portent laden vocals that sound like incantations from the blacker of the black monks, but turn out to hold some genuinely dry, wry and funny words. The downside is that it's all brilliant, so when you press 'play' you kind of can't leave it. That said, we go for "The Call" as the alpha track, a spiky, more driven thing that has both a beautifully understated quitar and a sublime, spot on bass riff.
Very fine, a dark chocolate, for adults thing, but poppy as hell as well, you can't hide hooks and they don't. Burn the labels, "Here In The Deadlights" is simply a great record.
Here In The Deadlights is the new album from Philip Polk Palmer on North Carolina imprint Silber Records. The 10 tracks are dark and murky, with a wonderful Chis Isaak and Nick Cave feel. Palmer has a sound that is compelling, with back alley guitars whose twang raises the hair on the back of your neck like hearing footsteps in the dark. The album is a sonic tribute to Savannah, Georgia, Palmer's home town. This album is a must have.
~ Floorshime Zipper Boots
An album of dark, smoky, cinematic music somewhere between post-punk and intelligent, sophisticated pop. Better in the Books is a smouldering, atmospheric piece bringing together aspects of Wild West movie soundtrack, goth, shoegaze, and a fractured take on 1960s easy listening music. Apparition is largely instrumental, save for ghostly wordless vocals. It incorporates more of that twangy Wild West guitar, and sounds like incidental music from a bleak and eerie movie set in the 1950s. The Call is dark dreampop with a nod to the post-punk era, in which an on-edge urgency bubbles under the woozy surface. Seeing Stars is brooding, melancholic and atmospheric underground pop. An exceptional album from an artist I'm keen to hear more from.
~ Kim Harten, Bliss/Aquamarine
I nearly got this review very wrong. For about a week I had it filed as Here In The Headlights, a result of my basically not reading the title properly but also, I decided, a result of Philip Polk Palmer‘s own brand of wordplay tricking me into the sort of mistake I always think I’m too experienced to fall foul of. Everyone knows what headlights are, but ‘deadlights’, well, those are entirely the invention of Mr. Palmer, and when I did eventually correct the error, as I began writing the review and listening to the album with my reviewer’s ear, I thought myself somewhat wary of the album’s musical content, lest there were other traps awaiting the uninitiated contained within it. Music writers will always make mistakes, and Philip Polk Palmer is one of those musicians that get a lot of things right.
Hailing from Savannah GA, Here In The Deadlights is a record that has taken Philip Palmer several years to both record and release, a personalised response to his hometown that draws influence from his own declared influences and likes, and while his website lists over forty bands and other musicians whose work has helped to shape his own, there are one or two of these that appear to figure prominently on the album. There is the purposed minimalism of Low, the keening guitar pyrotechnics of Pylon, the archly turned phrasing of Wall Of Voodoo, and though they aren’t actually among the bands mentioned directly, there is definitely the influence of the earlier music of The Cure, particularly in the first half of the album.
As opening track “Down The River” brings us a tale of a – probably metaphorical – riverboat journey gone awry, it does seem that Philip Polk Palmer’s main intention is to lead us, much like the mythical boatman Charon, into a Hades of his own devising. Although it’s a boat you’d best stay aboard as “The banks are lined with wicked things / They are looking for a feast,” Palmer tells us in a voice of modulated clarity, unlike the throaty rasp you may have come to expect whenever boatloads of souls destined for purgatory are the matter of song lyrics. The music is mid-tempo swamp blues, weighty bass notes jostling with sharply phrased guitar licks. It’s certainly a smoothly played and produced sound and “Better In The Books” (a caustically worded jibe at someplace that gets too many tourists) and “Frog Strangler”, which takes as its theme the phenomenon of fish and other unusual objects falling from the sky during storms, these three songs very much share a similarity of tone and musicality. Then “Apparition”, a short instrumental, signifies a change of pacing in the music and fifth track “The Call” is a quite different kind of song, with less emphasis on the mordant themes of mystery and the supernatural and a more conventional approach to songwriting, really. Palmer mentions The Psychedelic Furs as an influence and there is more than a tinge of Richard Butler’s caustically dry phrasing about “The Call”, while the addition of a synth and some electronic percussion provide a suitably post-punk ambience.
The probable album highlight, following on from another short instrumental “Embryonic Language”, is “Joyride”, a song where, yes, there is a definite nod to The Cure’s “A Forest” in the phased guitar that features throughout the song but also, it’s perhaps the most focused and purposeful moment on an album that doesn’t ever really lose its corrosively determined grip, either in the songwriting or the musicality. “Seeing Stars” takes a lighter tone at least musically with its chiming guitar notes and more subdued backline although the words are losing none of their archness; “I saw you last night / And you weren’t a pretty sight,” sings Palmer and we can only hope that he and the object of his scorn have made it up since the song was recorded. Lastly, “Goodbye” doesn’t sound a lot like anything else on the album, it’s just Philip Polk Palmer and his guitar saying goodnight to everyone and with a tone of benevolence that it needs to be said is missing from much of the rest of the album. “I wish you well / We made some memories,” sings Palmer, before sending us off to our rooms, our brains addled with images of ancient terrors, of things that live in the swamp and of record stores that stock our favourite albums and that are never actually open.
Not everyone is really going to like Here In The Deadlights. Its persistent gloom seems somehow contrived and even in its less dark moments the songwriting and its weighty themes can detract from the often skilfully realised musicianship. This isn’t to say that listening to Here In The Deadlights will have its audience reaching for the sleeping pills and bourbon though, it is a far too finely crafted work to be written off as an unremittingly depressive and unforgiving experience. Best listened to after dark though.
~ Jon Gordon, Delusions of Adequacy
C’č la pioggia, c’č la notte, ci sono le strade di Savannah, cittā nel sud degli Stati Uniti a cui questo album č dedicato, ci sono Nick Cave e in particolar modo Ian McCulloch (Echo and The Bunnymen) come modelli di riferimento, nei nove malinconici brani di Here In The Deadlights di Philip Polk Palmer, pubblicato da Silber Records.