Palma Violets’ House, London, Saturday April 21
OK, yes, you might think we at NME have a tendency to get over-enthusiastic about bands sometimes. But listen: we’ve been down here, to this strange house in south London, a few times now, and kept our mouths shut for a couple of months. We wanted to make double sure that Palma Violets are all we thought they were.
They are. And it’s time to get very excited.
Here’s the sketch: you locate a nondescript building not far from Elephant & Castle tube station, pull the bit of rope attached to the door, go down into a dangerously stuffed, low-ceiling’d basement. Soon, no-one can get in or out, and your ribcage is squeezed from all sides. Some guy shouts “PALLLLMA VIOLETS!!!!’ like he’s onstage at Wembley and the room erupts with an enthusiasm that suggests everyone here is already in on this, totally sold on the four pretty boys in front of them.
What we’re all falling in love with in here is a sound centred around echo-laden guitars, Spiritualized-style Farfisa organ and basslines picking out instantly euphoric, simple chord sequences. Oh yeah, and singer Sam Fryer’s voice – Ian McCulloch, Jim Morrison – and the way it rises into ecstatic shrieks that launch the band into similarly ecstatic psych-garage freakouts. There are already five or six awesome songs – direct, clever/simple, totally fresh’n’new-sounding fired-up rock’n’roll of the type we’ve been waiting for. They finish with a cover of Eddie Cochran’s ‘I Remember’, and then everyone screams, so they play another tune that goes, “I’ve got a brand new song, I’ve got a brand new song”. Except literally everyone here knows all the words already.
Palma Violets are smart, too. They haven’t put every available tape of them tuning up/making cups of tea up online. In fact there’s only one song you can hear – on our mixtape. And we literally had to beg them for it.