Illustration by Aubrey Nolan
This piece appears in AdHoc Issue 24.
The songs of Philly-based foursome Palm rarely end where they begin, taking on tricky time signatures and hairpin melodic turns without sacrificing hooks and songcraft. Their lyrics can be similarly hard to follow: the group’s dual vocalists embrace abstraction, with heavy vocal filters and inventive word games. Still, they get an awful lot across while saying very little—especially during their live sets, which can resemble a performed conversation in a private alien language.
Rock Island, their brightly lit sophomore full-length for Carpark Records, feels like a slight change of pace for the group; with Palm’s introduction of MIDI sampling and other electronic manipulations, it can sound at times like straight-up dance music. In advance of their record release show at Market Hotel on February 9, we chatted with guitarist and singer Kasra Kurt about the band’s ever-growing musical dexterity.
AdHoc: Palm spent time in New York before moving to Philly. How would you describe the difference between the music scenes there?
Kasra Kurt: Well, Palm has actually never been based in NYC. [Drummer] Hugo [Stanley] and [guitarist and vocalist] Eve [Alpert] have lived there in the past, but the “New York” in palmnewyork.bandcamp.com or firstname.lastname@example.org refers to the Hudson Valley, three hours north of the city, which is where we went to school and where we started playing together. I might be wrong, but I think we used New York in the Bandcamp link in the hopes that people would book us there...intentionally vague. It’s hard to stress how influential the scene upstate was on all of us. Bard had a really strong community of bold and adventurous musicians and artists. I’d go to a lot of shows, and my entire conception of music was being challenged all the time. I think it instilled in all of us a particular creative mentality, where nothing was off limits.
After college, we moved a little further upstate and spent a couple years writing and developing together. We started touring a little, but it was mostly an opportunity to retreat and figure out what we wanted to do.
Philadelphia is different. It’s a big city, for one, so it was something of a transition from country living. There’s so much happening—I highly recommend checking out Ada Babar and Old Maybe, for starters—and [so many] cool spots to play. To me, at least, it doesn’t feel competitive at all; people are supportive. Honestly, I don’t feel super comfortable talking about the Philly scene, because we’ve only been here a couple years and we’re away on tour so much of the time. But we love it here, and we feel really lucky to be a small part of the scene.Read More