“Forever” from Painted Palms Starts 2014 Off on a Bright Note

24 Jan

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San Francisco was arguably the birthplace of psychedelic rock in the mid-1960s. Now, the City serves as the launching point for Painted Palms, the latest musical act to dabble in the genre. Cousins Reese Donahue and Chris Prudhomme last week released their first full-length album, Forever, a 12-song set of energetic indie psych-pop that offers a really nice listen.

Painted Palms’ synth-based songs are reminiscent of a number of groups — from current bands such as Girls, Tame Impala or Animal Collective to legendary groups such as the Beatles or Beach Boys. The lyrics may be a little simplistic in places, but the tracks — while definitely having a “sound” — don’t all run together as is the case with many groups’ debuts.

Donahue and Prudhomme used to live hundreds of miles apart and they started their creative collaboration by exchanging music files via the Web. Even though they now live blocks from each other in San Francisco, they still write and record in the same way — building up songs layer by layer until they’re complete.

A good starting point for Forever is the opener, “Too High.” The track begins with swooshing synth sounds, then breaks into a bright, bouncy tune with calliope-like synth swirls and squiggles, chimes, and lots of sugary hooks. Think of it as a day soaring on the rollercoasters at your favorite amusement park.

The best track on the CD IMHO is the title track, “Forever.” After another distracting and unrelated 15 to 16 seconds of sampled noise between tracks, what emerges is the best-layered, psych-rock Beatles song since the Beatles. Perfect tempo. Great vocal harmonies. Strong synth orchestral feel — just an outstanding tune.

“Spinning Signs” is in the second half of the CD, which one reviewer felt was the stronger half, and I have to agree. The CD’s first single and video, it features a strong, triplet-based, stuttering rhythm and shimmering synths. There’s something of a 1960s or 1970s flavor to this tune as well. “Empty Gun” provides another warm, hooky melody that’s very Tame Impala-esque with synths, a plinking piano and prominent backbeat.

The closing number on the album, “Angels,” is a slower tempo track that opens with softer, strumming acoustic guitar and has high, rich reverbed vocals. It proves that Painted Palms can pull off a nice ballad whenever they want to.

While Forever probably won’t end up on many of 2014’s Top CDs lists, the album is ideal for when you want some pleasant music to play and put you in a good mood while you work or are getting ready to go out. Give it a spin.

 

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