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Apropos of its motto — “The City of Subdued Excitement” — Bellingham, Washington has, over the past two decades, quietly carved out a unique sonic niche independent of its grunge and indie-pop-oriented neighbors to the south in Seattle and Olympia.
From large-scale success story Death Cab for Cutie to lesser-known acts like noodly instrumentalists Rooftops, this most earnest of mid-sized Northwest music towns has long punched above its weight, and upstart Bellinghamsters The Palisades certainly uphold that tradition.
Listeners nostalgic for the measured catharses of late-1990s Midwesterners Braid, Cursive and others synonymous with the Polyvinyl and Saddle Creek labels will find lots to like about the jagged twin guitars, gravelly vocals and tour diary-style lyrics on the group’s third EP, Mr. S.‘s Memory.
Yet where those bands wallowed in their early-20s frustrations, The Palisades inject tension-and-release workouts like the hard-charging “It’s Symbiotic” and galloping “Rapture” with major-chord choruses and spirited “whoa-oh”s akin to popular present-day emo-punks like Vancouver’s Japandroids and Olympia’s RVIVR.
While Memory‘s trebly production and between-song conversational fodder makes it feel more like a demo than a proper release, it’s clear The Palisades say what they mean and mean what they say, and these five focused, fun tracks strongly imply they’re just getting started.
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