New Music | Friday Roll Out: Palm Ghosts, Body/Dilloway/Head, Snake Mountain Revival

There are moments when listeners have to wonder if where a band comes from is indicative of its own style. Considering Virginia isn’t known for just one thing, it may be the one place to start fresh for a group to deliver its own brand of music. After a couple of EP releases the past few years, the Virginia Beach trio Snake Mountain Revival just released its debut full-length release with Everything In Sight (Rebel Waves Records). It’s a study in psychedelia and while the band flirts with influential desert rock, the album brandishes a flux of heaviness, fuzzed-out guitar riffing, and a good amount of experimentation. Of course, the band sets its sight throughout with trippy rhythms & soaring guitars. “Moon Baron” for example, rides on crescent waves of heavily distorted guitars, but never falls prey to metal, instead, moving with stoner rock fascination. It’s sludgy but with distinct grooves and singer Ryan Chandler’s echoing vocals. But then the ethereal “Just Feeling” moves massively as Chandler’s voice resonates across valleys & plains. But it’s the psych-rock of “Pheremone” that’s expansive without pouring too much into the song itself. The band cleverly maneuvers through an array of heavy rockdom, never definitively aligning itself with one particular style but rather encompassing many.

There are things that make one wonder sometimes, wonder as to what some are thinking at times. Body/Head is the experimental collaboration between Kim Gordon and Bill Nace but here we have Body/Dilloway/Head, the inclusion of the Michigan-born Aaron Dilloway, experimentalist and former member of Wolf Eyes. The trio has released its 3-song, 30-minute debut (Three-Lobed). The band plays with empty space, guitars, and loops throughout the release, beginning with the 17 minute+ of “Body Erase.” Given there isn’t much to go on here considering it’s filled with sparse tape loops playing in the background. Art for the sake of art? Many will be left with uncertainty leaving with the idea of clarity in the abuse of recordings, running the course into nothingness. It’s ominous, a tale of discomforting gloom & shadow, leaving devilish murkiness behind. The atmospheric “Goin’ Down” holds much more appeal as melodious guitars hum in the distance, are toppled by guitar notes & feedback in the foreground. This could well be the soundtrack to our lives, stuck on repeat, never-ending, and beautifully captivating. The group’s closing 13 and a half minute “Secret Cuts” runs the gamut of measuring equal amounts of guitar and tape loops, along with Gordon’s voice in the background. The three run across unknown terrain in The Upside Down, searching for an escape. Which direction Gordon, Nace, and Dilloway eventually find themselves is in an odd, diluted, alcoholic pool of their own making.

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Continuing to ride on the haze of Lifeboat Candidate released earlier this year, I’m left a bit confused here. While the album delivered music through goth inspiration, the band has slightly shifted its direction here. It isn’t so drastic as to leave the group a mere reflection of its former self, that’s not the case here. What we do in fact receive is something endearing. What does that mean? Well, I’m trying to make sense of where Nashville’s Palm Ghosts fits within this musical spectrum of sound.

Just when I thought I had a handle on the group, the band releases The Lost Frequency (Ice Queen Records). I think I was too quick to expose the group bringing back an “era of dark clothing, thick eyeliner, and polished black fingernails. But yes, the band still evokes goth expressions through an 80s kaleidoscope although there’s more to the band. Joseph Lekkas proves himself a vocalist with versatility; he’s never expressing himself the same way twice. It’s possibly because “But Under the Tenuous Ether Rest Soundly” has me hypnotized with both his delivery and the band’s interplay within the music. The ghost of David Bowie lingers around this track but I’m not sure from which era (Whatever, at least we can all agree Bowie was timeless). There’s a pop sensibility throughout as keyboards linger all the way through with guitars accentuating the rhythm section’s sensible beat.

“Nightsong” hits with an ethereal vibrancy & fervor as bass and guitars find a happy median along with Walt Epting’s drums. It’s fantastic & hypnotizing all at once and Lekkas’ melancholic distant vocals evoke loads of emotion here. It’s haunting, deeply tugging on heartstrings. While the band may flirt with nostalgia, Palm Ghosts doesn’t have a one-track mind and isn’t a one-trick pony. “Toy Mind” & “Young Empire” heads into darkness with a post-punk edge, casting away any weak comparisons or spirited mimicry. Skimming through “The Painful Truth” would be a mistake, fooling listeners with its whirling keyboards and heavily thumping percussion. It’s the track that breathes life all around; from beginning to end it never lets go of its infectious groove. Now, if you’re going to name a song “John Carpenter” it better be John Carpenter. And actually, it could be. It’s dark and twisting but there are no knife-wielding villains; they’re replaced with haunting ghosts that lure listeners in. If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m all in on The Lost Frequency but there’s nothing lost here unless you count your very soul after constant spins.

This seems to be the year of ghosts, Palm Ghosts to be exact. Releasing a total of three albums, which includes the group’s Singles + B Sides, with The Lost Frequency, this is the literal icing on the cake. Strong with melodicism, nostalgia, and complexities anyone and everyone can get down with.

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