31 July 2013

Palms - Palms

This is a project I did not see coming or hear anything about.  Formed in 2011, this is a side project for Chino Moreno from the Deftones with Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer from Post Rock legends Isis.  After Isis split up in 2010, Caxide, Harris and Meyer decided they still wanted to make music, Moreno had been noted as an Isis fan.  This album was produced by the band themselves and released on the Ipeac record label. The band have admitted that they wanted to move away from what they were know for before (especially with Isis) and to make an album which communicated more than their previous works, I'm guessing that they wanted to be a bit more accessible to an audience as Isis could be very hard work.  Also, Moreno's last side project - Team Sleep - had been viewed as a failure in some quarters and this was a brave move for him as the Deftones had been making new music, but were still in a flux situation in regards to their bass player Chi Cheng being in a coma at the time of this album being made (and he sadly passed in 2013).  So what is this album - is it ambition over the strengths of the people, or is it a marriage that helps mend the people from within.

First things first, when ever Chino sings, your automatically gonna have your prevailing feelings for the Deftones come to the surface.  He has one of the most distinctive voices in modern rock/metal, so this will make your decision on this band easy I feel; for me I have always had a love/hate relationship with the Deftones,.  Sometimes they have rocked my world to the core; other times they have made me so bored that I have been tempted to reach for the pencil headphones.  However, I have always enjoyed Chino's vocals, he is a good singer in my eyes and to Palms, he brings a certain warmth to the band which brings depth, yet slightly hinders it too. I do wonder how this would have work with a different vocalist (or even if it could have worked).  Songs like "Shortwave Radio" are very well put together, but it could have as easily been off the last Deftones album.  I don't really know if this is just me hearing Chino and making assumptions, but there is a lot more Deftones on this than Isis. 

But then again it is a lot different to DT.  This playing from Caxide, Harris and Meyer is really tight and powers each song along.  "Patagonia" and "Mission Sunset" are wonderful pieces, as is "Tropics" with the almost hypnotic guitars - in fact "Tropics" is the albums stand out track, perfect for a summers day be it rainy or sunny, just beautiful.  I can see where the band were coming from when they said this sounds nothing like Isis in a way, the mood is a lot lighter and more approachable.  But when I say approachable, you have to remember this is a six track album and the shortest song is just shy of seven minutes long.  But it is hardly challenging on the mind or ears - and I think that is the problem here for me.  Well, that coupled with the fact I cannot help but feel that the Deftones shadow falls on this too heavily for its own good.  By three quarters of the band trying to do something different from their past, they have strayed a little bit too close to the other members day job in certain way, especially their more ambient moments. If you are a fan of either band there is stuff here to be interested in, especially if you’re a Chino fan.  However, I feel there is more to come from these guys.  They sound good together and maybe with a little kick in the right direction they could be amazing.  But for now, they are just a shadow of what they could be and it is of their own making.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can visit the band's website here

You can listen to the album here on Spotify

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