In September 2011 if you wanted to hear the most exciting new band in Britain, rather than searching online you knocked on a tall black door off the Lambeth Road. Part art studio, part squat– Studio 180 was where south London’s thrilling rock’n’roll four-piece Palma Violets were holed-up writing songs their friends could dance to and throwing celebratory, ecstatic parties about which word quickly spread.
The opposite of the last significant developmen tin English guitar music when the Arctic Monkeys became the first "Myspace band", harnessing the power of the internet and prompting BBC documentaries and convulsions in major record labels, the Palma Violets’ rise has been notable by their total avoidance of the worldwide web. In fact until a couple of months ago, they had no online presence, no music recorded, and no press team working for them, this wasn’t the product of some fiendishlycounter-intuitive marketing strategy, it was because all they cared about was playing shows.
“We didn’t want to put ourselves on Facebook,Youtube or the internet because we hadn’t recorded any songs,” explains singer Sam Fryer. “We were making this noise together in a room for fun and that’swhere you had to experience it.”
“The best way to see a rock’n’roll band is to go and see them play live,” elaborates bassist Chilli Jesson. “That’s all we wanted people to do.”
Palma Violets’ debut album ‘180’ - produced by Steve Mackey (Pulp) and Rory Attwell (Test Icicles) and released on Rough Trade in February earlier this year – is named after the studio where the band’s story began and captures the live energy of these formative shows. NME declared it to be ‘the new soundtrack to your life’, Q ‘one of the best debut albums ofthe decade’ and The Quietus simply ‘fucking brrrrilliant’. The lead single‘Best Of Friends’, a raucous and exhilarating blast of primal rock’n’roll,featuring Jesson singing the lead, was named NME’s Track Of The Year in 2012, with the magazine calling it ‘one of the most instant singles to ever be released. Atotal barnstormer of a tune with a chorus as big as they come.’ It’s worth noting that this was released as a cd single – partly because no one else does that anymore and partly because it carries echoes of the Modern Age EP, the first Strokes release.
And Palma Violets are a band who deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Like that band, they’ve arrived fully formed – as anyone who is lucky enough to have experienced their live shows or heard ‘180’can testify.
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