I'm too ignorant of the hip rock scene to even know all the references in the press release describing the Brooklyn band Parlor Walls, around for a couple of years now and apparently about to release their first full album (Opposites), but seeing "art punk trio" with a drummer playing keyboards with his left hand, well heck.
One of the references I do know is Yoko Ono, but I'm afraid my “appreciation” of her has not “evolved” one smidgen since 8th grade. But I (thankfully) never thought of Yoko Ono when listening to the big, bold, sometimes-on-key, sometimes-could-care-less-key vocals of Alyse Lamb (who also handles guitar beautifully, and less beautifully where it shouldn’t be). She’s expressive with a hint of bratty humor adding up to a sound that’s damn compelling. And if we’re going with old-man Yoko-era references (my comfort zone), she put me more in mind of a Velvet Underground-era Nico on steroids. Other things that came to mind at various times were Tyondai Braxton’s weirdly dazzling fusion of Battles, and Chris Mulligan’s powerhouse drums having a whiff of the epic When the Levy Breaks Zeppelin sound, cavernous reverb and all. In fact, you better like cavernous reverb if you want to enjoy this album.
And another thing that grabbed me in the PR – they’re a rock trio with one of them (Kate Mohanty) being a saxophonist. It might not be unique to have a rock trio with a third of the personnel on a monophonic reed instrument (think Morphine – oops, old dude reference again – with Dana Colley’s baritone and tenor sax), but almost. And it sounds like she’s more a fan of Ornette Coleman than Coleman Hawkins, but that certainly fits the band.
It's moody but highly charged stuff, and I’m pretty head over heels. They’re coming to the Empty Bottle here in Chicago on March 13th. I can’t go, but I hope somebody I know does and can let me know if Parlor Walls delivers as well in person as they do on “Opposites.” It’s a lot to live up to.
February 16, 2017
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