Burning Palms
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Burning Palms

Tucson, Arizona, United States | INDIE

Tucson, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Garage Rock

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The scene is on fire, and the smoke is worth huffing. Believe me, just huff it. You’ll drift in psychedelic euphoria to a place called the Church of Ra. Burning Palms will walk you in. They’ll show you pyramid walls, crumbling from the weight of overdriven gospel songs. Seriously, you’ll hear the hiss of desert wind between each thundered thump of the tribal toms. Wait, maybe that’s just the hiss of lo-fi recording. Either way, you’re going to be glad Burning Palms welcomed you into their unholy sound.

“Pyramids” starts the album quick and aggressive – punk influenced songwriting while maintaining ethereal vocal harmonies. The established gospel-in-the-garage sound shifts at the album’s halfway point, to a lull of down-tempo prayer in the song “Church of Ra.” This is the most dynamic, and interesting piece of songwriting on the album. It ends with a heavy outro worth sinning to.

The last song, “Thedious,” slows the march of an otherwise epic album. I expected Burning Palms to offer one bloody final sacrifice. Instead, the final showdown ends up being not as strong as the 13 minutes that led into it. It strays away from the aesthetic the rest of the record built up, in both lyrics and guitar-work. Luckily, a weak song by Burning Palms is still amazing.

The clumsy finish doesn’t get in the way of realizing that Burning Palms is doing something original, and engaging. Sure, by identifying themselves as “Egyptian Temple Lo-Fi,” they may be pigeonholing their future into a single set of imagery and lyrics. But for now, the concept is working. They’re combining gospel with garage, and it sounds like heaven. Wait, maybe it sounds like hell. I can’t decide. Either way, I’m praying in the Church of Ra.
- jalph.net


Music is an escape, or at least, that's what we're told. You see a lot of people live pretty hectic lives, and a lot of us can't appreciate what music does for us at any given moment. Not every artist has this ability, but those that are able to whisk us away from the mundane or terrible lives we lead are worth keeping around, because the ability to do such a thing is hard in its own right. Sometimes its because of the fun atmosphere a song can convey, and sometimes, its a magical, almost ethereal quality a band can produce that transports you away from our chaotic world and into one much more respectable. Burning Palms seem to harness this power with Church Of Ra.

Hailing from Arizona, it seems Burning Palms have taken the magic the states desert landscape displays and harnessed it in their music. Fun, but spooky, Palms play a psychedelic form of surf-based-indie rock that many people try to harness nowadays, but almost none seem able to master. They are able to have their sound stand out because of these 'magical' qualities, and it's a refreshing reminder that maybe you can still beat that dead horse with a stick afterall, so long as that stick is a little different.

"Maze", with its simple yet catchy guitar riff and reverberated vocals, takes the cake on this album. It's one of the more energetic songs they play here, and though it doesn't have anything musically that really stands out above the others, what it does is manage to mold all their sounds together in one neat little package just right. It sounds a bit Best Coast-ish, but comparisons are going to happen, especially in this genre. "San Pedro" is equally impressive, but really feels more psychobilly than anything else.

"Drag" doesn't live up to its name and delivers a pretty strong, but methodical, tune. It's slower, but the chord progression is excellent, and the overlapping vocals really add another level to their already impressive sound. "Pyramids" and "Thorns" continue to almost seemingly non-stop assault of good music on this album, delivering short but memorable songs that live up to these guys expectations. It's nice they try to vary up speeds as well and don't try to stick with a quick, punk-as-fuck approach or a slow, drugged out of your mind approach.

About the only blotch on the album is "Church Of Ra", the title track. It holds true to some of the same style points that define these guys, but there's something really missing here for me. I would not go as far as to say it's a horrible track, but it didn't seem to garner the same powerful imagery the others were producing, and when a band like Burning Palms work so well at creating moods, it's a bit of a let down.

Church Of Ra really impressed with its ability to transport you away from everything, but considering the songs were great on top of that, it really made it stand out. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and when you're slinging a similar sound a million other bands are trying to, you'd better be damn sure you find the niche that carves you a piece of the fame cake. Burning Palms have found there niche, now its just a matter of time before they get their cake. - Shane


-This release is able to be heard on bandcamp, but it is actually a cassette release, which you can buy from Lolipop Records. Here's the bandcamp link: http://lolipoprecords.bandcamp.com/album/church-of-ra-cass - Shane Fraiser


Two years of work comes together for Simone Stopford as Burning Palms' debut is released this month
by Joshua Levine



By the time the Sex Pistols played their final shows in 1978, Johnny Rotten had changed one of the famous lines in "Anarchy in the U.K."—"Don't know what I want but I know how to get it"—into the much more assured "I know what I want and I know how to get it." Simone Stopford understands. After unveiling her band, Burning Palms, publicly in February, the past six months have been a whirlwind of activity that has culminated in an album to be released Sept. 17 on Lolipop Records and a reputation as Tucson's most exciting new rock 'n' roll band.

If any of this was apparent to Stopford during the last two years, when she was at home writing and recording the songs that would become Church of Ra, Burning Palms' otherworldly, fantastical, and dazzling debut album, she won't be the one to say. Obsessed with mysticism, mystery and myth—all of which reside at the core of Burning Palms' music—Stopford prefers ambiguity over direct statements, and open interpretation over facts. She also has a tricky, insinuating sense of humor, which further breaks down what's real and what's false.

Stopford, a native of England, was a longtime veteran of the music industry, working all around the globe for "various record labels, management companies, P.R. and MTV," she says. About two years ago, she decided it was time to sit in the artist's seat, and she started writing songs. "I was writing all of these songs and recording solo, kind of hermitlike, in my bedroom," she explains. On Apple's GarageBand software, she was putting together the tracks that would later end up on Church of Ra. After writing in Sydney and Los Angeles, she finally settled down in Tucson and continued composing, but raised the stakes for herself.

"When I first came to Tucson, I realized I needed other people to collaborate with in order to take the music from my laptop to the stage," Stopford says. "I wanted to experiment and explore what the lineup would consist of, whether it would be myself and a drum machine, or me and an orchestra. I had no idea. I tried working with a variety of different people and then got lucky and found the perfect lineup. Burning Palms is a collective. It's a family."

While Burning Palms' initial incarnation first appeared on the radar with a music video in February, it wasn't until June that the current group coalesced. In addition to Stopford singing lead and playing guitar, Burning Palms now includes Chris Sauer on guitar, Julia DeConcini adding vocals and percussion, Nate Gutierrez on bass and Elliot Silva on drums. As Stopford tells it, "I had an initial concept (of Burning Palms), but as I started to perform and develop the songs with the band, and have them bring their own layers and personalities, it all really developed." By the time the members solidified, she "felt fantastic. It's a lot of work but I feel it's very worthwhile."

There was another important obstacle to conquer, however: The normally focused and self-assured Stopford was suffering from crippling stage fright. Intrigued by all things in the realm of the sub- and unconscious, she "had to go to hypnotherapy to perform. I was really petrified of performing." She points to her past in the music business as the possible culprit. "Seeing so many amazing, talented artists made me debilitatingly nervous" about her technical ability on the guitar, but "bizarrely enough, it really worked. (Now) I really don't give a damn."

It's telling that Stopford also counts visual artists Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette as full members of the band. Presentation is integral to the Burning Palms collective approach. "We're all into magic and the unknown," she says. "We've looked at (ancient) Egyptian symbolism, the history of the pyramids, different Egyptian gods. We've studied the films of Kenneth Anger.

"We see ourselves as being pretty theatrical, and we don't want to bore people with our show, which is why the songs are all under two minutes and the show is under 20." Musically, "we want to have a soundscape going through the show and have people hooked in ... to keep the momentum going."

It was these shows that attracted the attention of Matt Rendon, leader of the Resonars and drummer for both Freezing Hands and Lenguas Largas. Rendon also runs Coma Cave Studio, and offered to record the group. According to Stopford, "Matt approached us; he was a big fan. I was very taken aback by that because I'm a big Resonars fan and I also love Lenguas Largas." Although she has a very distinct vision of how Burning Palms' music should be presented, recorded and performed, the two im - Tucson Weekly


Two years of work comes together for Simone Stopford as Burning Palms' debut is released this month
by Joshua Levine



By the time the Sex Pistols played their final shows in 1978, Johnny Rotten had changed one of the famous lines in "Anarchy in the U.K."—"Don't know what I want but I know how to get it"—into the much more assured "I know what I want and I know how to get it." Simone Stopford understands. After unveiling her band, Burning Palms, publicly in February, the past six months have been a whirlwind of activity that has culminated in an album to be released Sept. 17 on Lolipop Records and a reputation as Tucson's most exciting new rock 'n' roll band.

If any of this was apparent to Stopford during the last two years, when she was at home writing and recording the songs that would become Church of Ra, Burning Palms' otherworldly, fantastical, and dazzling debut album, she won't be the one to say. Obsessed with mysticism, mystery and myth—all of which reside at the core of Burning Palms' music—Stopford prefers ambiguity over direct statements, and open interpretation over facts. She also has a tricky, insinuating sense of humor, which further breaks down what's real and what's false.

Stopford, a native of England, was a longtime veteran of the music industry, working all around the globe for "various record labels, management companies, P.R. and MTV," she says. About two years ago, she decided it was time to sit in the artist's seat, and she started writing songs. "I was writing all of these songs and recording solo, kind of hermitlike, in my bedroom," she explains. On Apple's GarageBand software, she was putting together the tracks that would later end up on Church of Ra. After writing in Sydney and Los Angeles, she finally settled down in Tucson and continued composing, but raised the stakes for herself.

"When I first came to Tucson, I realized I needed other people to collaborate with in order to take the music from my laptop to the stage," Stopford says. "I wanted to experiment and explore what the lineup would consist of, whether it would be myself and a drum machine, or me and an orchestra. I had no idea. I tried working with a variety of different people and then got lucky and found the perfect lineup. Burning Palms is a collective. It's a family."

While Burning Palms' initial incarnation first appeared on the radar with a music video in February, it wasn't until June that the current group coalesced. In addition to Stopford singing lead and playing guitar, Burning Palms now includes Chris Sauer on guitar, Julia DeConcini adding vocals and percussion, Nate Gutierrez on bass and Elliot Silva on drums. As Stopford tells it, "I had an initial concept (of Burning Palms), but as I started to perform and develop the songs with the band, and have them bring their own layers and personalities, it all really developed." By the time the members solidified, she "felt fantastic. It's a lot of work but I feel it's very worthwhile."

There was another important obstacle to conquer, however: The normally focused and self-assured Stopford was suffering from crippling stage fright. Intrigued by all things in the realm of the sub- and unconscious, she "had to go to hypnotherapy to perform. I was really petrified of performing." She points to her past in the music business as the possible culprit. "Seeing so many amazing, talented artists made me debilitatingly nervous" about her technical ability on the guitar, but "bizarrely enough, it really worked. (Now) I really don't give a damn."

It's telling that Stopford also counts visual artists Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette as full members of the band. Presentation is integral to the Burning Palms collective approach. "We're all into magic and the unknown," she says. "We've looked at (ancient) Egyptian symbolism, the history of the pyramids, different Egyptian gods. We've studied the films of Kenneth Anger.

"We see ourselves as being pretty theatrical, and we don't want to bore people with our show, which is why the songs are all under two minutes and the show is under 20." Musically, "we want to have a soundscape going through the show and have people hooked in ... to keep the momentum going."

It was these shows that attracted the attention of Matt Rendon, leader of the Resonars and drummer for both Freezing Hands and Lenguas Largas. Rendon also runs Coma Cave Studio, and offered to record the group. According to Stopford, "Matt approached us; he was a big fan. I was very taken aback by that because I'm a big Resonars fan and I also love Lenguas Largas." Although she has a very distinct vision of how Burning Palms' music should be presented, recorded and performed, the two im - Tucson Weekly


Discography

Cassette release on Lolipop Records:
BURNING PALMS- "Church of Ra" (CASS)
CRAZY COOL EGYPTIAN TEMPLE LOW-FI DESERT ROCK FROM TUCSON, ARIZONA!!! RAD TASTICAL!!!
100 white/pink cassettes pressed ?

Includes immediate download of 7-track album in your choice of high-quality MP3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
1. PYRAMIDS 02:23
2. SAN PEDRO 01:55
3. MAZE 02:15
4. CHURCH OF RA 02:22
5. THORNS 01:54
6. DRAG 02:41
7. THEDIOUS 01:57

released 17 September 2013
@ LOLIPOP RECORDS 2013

http://lolipoprecords.bandcamp.com/album/church-of-ra-cass

Photos

Bio


BURNING PALMS are a Witch Rock quintet out of Tucson, Arizona fronted by two White Magic priestesses and backed by three boy demons. They've played with Pink Mountaintops, INVSN, The Resonars, Jeffertittiies Nile... and others. June 1 saw the release of their self-titled album on Lolipop Records.
They are currently on the Lolipop Records West Coast Caravan Tour with The Mystic Braves, Corners and The Electric Magpie

Band Members