Title: The Girl You Knew
Artist: Burnt Palms
Release Date: 2014 May 26
Genre: Indie Pop
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: We Were Never Being Boring
So, I’ve said that I keep running into new labels out there in cyberspace, and this is a new one for me yet again. In this case, We Were Never Being Boring is a collective of artists that appears to have branches in the U.S. and U.K. With forty releases available they aren’t really a new label, and it wasn’t easy to choose a release to start with. But, I finally settled on Burnt Palms The Girl You Knew, and I think you will be happy I did.
We Were Never Being Boring
The collective is really interesting. They have a very simply stated goal / mission (from the WWNBB website):
We want music to never turn into something boring for us. It would mean that we have become boring. Because music does not die with mp3?s or copyright: boredom is what brings it down, when it becomes a habit. All we need is a small do-it-yourself collective, as tiny as a simple smile.
And, gauging by the releases I’ve listened to, I would say they are succeeding well in meeting this objective as I will talk about now.
The Girl You Knew
Burnt Palms is a trio from Seaside, California lead by singer and guitarist Christina Riley, with Clara Nieto on drums and Brian Dela Cruz on bass. They recorded a self-titled début release shortly after forming. Their second release is The Girl You Knew.
The first thing that strikes your ear when listening to the opening track ‘The Girl You Knew’ is this is a group with raw energy. Opening with strong, throbbing guitar rhythm backed by straight pulsing bass and drums sets the mood really well. And then you there is a bit of a surprise: Christina’s vocals have an almost dream-like quality floating over the throbbing pulsing rhythm. It’s an immediately alluring combination.
Progressing through this release, the overall sound is very consistent. But there is more, there is a power in the hooks of the songs, and the writing is sharp and focused. This isn’t the kind of pop that is flabby around the edges: the songs get to the point and don’t wander past it.
And then there are the lyrics. It seems that each song is very specific in lyrical content. For example on ‘Open My Eyes’: “Open my eyes to see you’re long gone / Open my eyes and see you are moving on…” It’s a breakup song, very straight to the point. There isn’t much introspection in these lyrics, but there is a conclusion. (“Open my eyes to see I was so wrong…”).
But not all the lyrics are quite this simple. My favorite song on this release is ‘My Future, Your Past’ which starts with the line: “I see you in my future / Like you see me in your past / I see you in my future / But I guess you want me less / I guess you want me less.”
Many of these songs center on relationships that don’t work on one level or another. But they aren’t about wallowing in self-pity, this isn’t a confessional album. It’s an album about moving past the relationship, moving towards something in the future.
And that’s where this release works so well. Christina vocals carry the dream like emotion in her lyrics, while the throbbing and pulsing bass and drums conveys the movement. You feel like you are traveling on the open road in a convertible. Speeding down the highway to the next adventure.
They say the sophomore release for most groups is the most difficult. If that is the case, Burnt Palms slayed the second release dragon on this album. It’s a tight head-long rush down the highway with a very tight-knit ensemble, and excellent writing both lyrically and musically. The girl you knew is not the girl you know now.
This is a great summer release with an extremely high energy feeling of the open road. It’s a celebration of freedom. Highly recommended.
NOTE: a bit of an oddity regarding the licensing on this release. We Were Never Being Boring maintains two stores: U.S. and U.K. (I presume this is for pricing in US dollars versus pricing Euros.) In the US store this release is marked as being full copyright, instead of being a Creative Commons release. The U.K. store lists the release as carrying a CC BY-NC-SA Unported license. I didn’t realize that there was this discrepancy until I was well into writing this review. I’ve linked the U.K. store above as that was where I acquired the release.