I had a bold and ultimately fruitless idea for this piece, one that seemed possible till I set down to write it. I wanted to capture Palm, the Philly math rock four piece who, late last month, released their third album Nicks and Grazes. And not just in the journalistic sense, but really capture them, the way they sound in all their disjointed, haphazard, impressionistic, bold, frenetic, improvisational, boundary-pushing, joyful madness. I wanted to write a piece that read like they sound. I wanted to tell their story in the way they might. I wanted to give you, the reader, a sense of what this band sounds like live. I wanted to bombard the senses and overwhelm expectations, the way Palm so often does. I wanted to, but I couldn’t because, well, nothing but the specific kaleidoscope of noise that is Palm could possibly do them justice, and therein lies the beauty of Palm.
Palm have been playing music together for a long time now. Dual guitarists and vocalists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt started playing together back in high school, eventually rounding out the band with Gerasimos Livitsanos on bass and Hugo Stanley on drums, both of whom met while attending Bard College in upstate New York. Palm is a band that came out, while maybe not fully-formed, more coherent and focused than most young bands. Their debut record Trading Basics displayed many of the traits that continue to make them as fascinating as they are impenetrable. After only a few years of collaboration, the band had developed a sonic language all their own, one that allowed them to play off each other’s strengths with preternatural ease. Jazz, post-punk, and math rock fall together in lock step behind a driving, ever-present rhythm, giving their sound both hard borders and endless possibility. This pattern continued throughout the 2010s, as they honed their sound, eventually releasing a second full-length, Rock Island, in 2019.