For my first Heatwave feature, I am writing about one of my favourite bands. The only band I could possibly write about, of course, is Little Mix.
Only joking! They’ve got one or two decent pop songs, but that’s for a discussion in the pub on a bleak Wednesday evening. I’m envious of their dance moves. My own are questionable at best.
In all seriousness now, the band I’m going to write about is a 4-piece from Manchester that is probably one of the best bands up there. Manchester was and still is the home to some amazing bands. Some bands you’ve never heard of yet and some that probably calmed down your teenage hate. The bands that come from this city have something about them that others may lack. This observation is no insult to other places, but anything from the North is always going to be a little tougher and have more grit behind it. Would The Smiths sound like they did if they were from London? Probably not.
Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali (PALBMA) is named after a shop in Manchester that you pass on the way to the city. I’ve gone past it many times and it is sort of a landmark to knowing I’m there. It used to be ending up in Salford and going around the roundabout several times before admitting we were lost, but adulthood has kicked in and shops are now a point of reference.
PALBMA is fronted by Mark who is also in Brown Brogues. If you’re familiar with Brown Brogues, you will know that they’re quite rowdy for two guys. So has Mark created something louder or is it just the same? Neither. PALBMA has a solid garage sound that is brilliantly distorted in the vocals. Kim is probably one of the best bassists I’ve ever heard, and the way they all move on stage is a strong indication that this band mean business.
They’ve so far only played one London show. They recently went out on tour with PINS and they’ve generated some strong interest from the crowd, and it firmly backs my theory that you should always check out the support. Mark holds the guitar like a machine gun and directs it at the crowd whilst snarling out the lyrics. I always find that live shows bring out the best in bands, like you can really connect with the music and work out what a band is about. What I took from PALBMA’s live performance was this raw energy that you always find in new bands. They don’t need to flail themselves about on the stage in order for you to know that they’re enjoying themselves. It is much more subtle than that, and I think that’s what makes them so easy to treasure.
Their EP is due for release towards the end of the year. It is a collection of 6 songs that will blow your mind to pieces. The fury in the songs is so refreshing to hear, and it will make you think you’re listening to a band not from now. In some respects, you can tell they are a new band but when you listen close you pick up on pieces of songs that sound like they easily could have flowed out of New York City in the 1960s/1970s. Their garage side reminds me of bands I love, such as The Gruesomes and The Vagrants, but there’s urgency to the music that catapults them to 2015 Manchester.
The first track on their EP, “Lord,” has a slight psychedelic feel to it. It’s in the way Mark hypnotises you with his vocals and Dale lures you in with the keys. Calum calmly beats the crap out of the drums and Kim eases you in with the bass. It’s the perfect song to kick off the EP and make ready for the rest of the record to just smack you in the face. They are truly worth the trip to Manchester to see, especially if you cannot wait for the EP to come out on 11 December.
Bands should be fearless and make the kind of music they want to hear. There is nothing worse than a band full of people pleasers. I guess it is easy to lose sight of who you are, whether in a band or not. Music being such a universal thing it is important to have bands that could be seen as rebels or underdogs– the kind of band that no one else has caught onto yet. Their recent set on Marc Riley’s show was sort of like a proud parent moment for me. He’s the closest person we have to John Peel on the radio now, and for him to constantly be on the lookout for new bands to feature and end up hosting a live set from PALBMA at half 7 in the evening is pretty good going.
Every band has a stand out track and “Mean Like A Snake” is PALBMA at its best. The guitar sounds like a thousand bullets aimed for your guts and the drums are almost egging the guitar on to meet its target. Sound wise the band is pretty much perfect. They are everything I look for in a band. Their live shows bring it all to life, the music sounds like a few bands that have already established a place firmly in my heart (and record collection). You can pick up on a real sense of rebellion in their sound, which is exuded perfectly in “Mean Like A Snake.” I remember them doing this song live and it was the highlight of their set. You could tell that they all loved playing it without going over the top.
PALBMA makes the kind of music that would sound ideal in a dodgy horror film. You know exactly who is going to be toast first and you probably know who the culprit is instantly, and the blood is tomato ketchup that has evidently been bought in bulk from Lidl. The soundtrack is usually better than the film, and that’s why you keep watching.
I don’t know how anyone else works, but when I listen to a band for the first time (regardless of if they are new or not) there are certain feelings I want to be stirred. This want changes on the type of music and sometimes on my mood. For the most part, I want to hear something that is going to make me feel like my brain is being fried and I’m being kicked in the smacker. PALBMA does all of this and more, which is part of my reason for being a huge fan. They remind me of being a teen and discovering Velvet Underground for the very first time. Much like bands similar to Bad Weed and Kuken, PALBMA’s distinctive and new sound is what keeps me on the hunt for new music. I can be at my desk at work on my lunch break or on the tube to work, and I’ll always be looking for something new in which I can lose myself. PALBMA is one of those bands that does not happen very often, and I really don’t think any band in the UK sounds like them. If I wasn’t aware of who they were, I’d probably assume they were a rebellious lot from the mean streets of Berlin.
Their live shows are louder than on the record, and that’s again something for which I look. I want the gritty and unapologetically loud racket that would probably annoy housemates, loved ones and neighbours. They are for the faint-hearted, but go in at ease. See them live whenever and wherever you can and buy the EP on 11 December. Buy a few, treat your pals this Christmas. It’s better than a shit pair of socks.
By Olivia Cellamare