Fake Palms
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Fake Palms

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Noise




"Pitchfork Album Review"

There are no real palm trees in Toronto, but the city is seeing an uptick in tiki bars—the sort of bamboo-lined spaces with enough beach-scene murals and evergreen faux-fronds to make you think you’ve stepped into a Tahitian resort (at least after you’ve downed four flaming mai tais). But while scuzz-covered Toronto rockers Fake Palms hardly seem like the types to be strategically capitalizing on boutique cocktail trends, band founder Michael le Riche seems well familiar with the sensation of being caught between the world in which he exists and the one he wishes to inhabit.

Le Riche represents a bridge between divergent Toronto indie rock narratives. His former band, the Darcys, were signed to Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts imprint, and, prior to a lineup shake-up last year that’s cast the group’s future in doubt, were being groomed as the label’s next-gen art-rock lynchpins. But with his new full-time concern, le Riche takes a detour down the burning-embered trail blazed by local art-punk heroes Metz to join the freak scene at Buzz Records, whose name is as reflective of the label’s rising profile as its raucous roster’s overheated amplifiers. And yet, even as Fake Palms has evolved from le Riche’s bedroom recording project to a veritable Toronto underground supergroup (with Lane Halley of Hooded Fang on second guitar, Burning Love’s Patrick Marshall on bass, and long-time Slim Twig associate Simone TB on drums), the band’s self-titled debut still bears an intensely claustrophobic quality. Le Riche isn’t so much stepping out into the spotlight as fortifying the walls around him, finding sanctuary in noise.

Fake Palms are, fundamentally, a dream-pop band that plays with garage-punk aggression, subjecting pristine pop songs to bruising beatings. For them, distortion isn’t a weapon, but the inevitable consequence of a stringent, Dogme 95-worthy approach to recording that emphasizes live-off-the-floor authenticity and forbids overdubs. The in-the-red interaction of le Riche and Halley’s gleaming guitar lines, Marshall’s rhythmic rumble, and Simone’s thwack attack has produced a naturally corroding effect, as if all the sound bouncing off the studio walls formed a storm system that soaked the recordings in static.

That shrouding effect can make it hard to grasp exactly what le Riche is trying to express, though the underpinning ennui is easy enough to parse. On the hard-charging opener "Fever Dream", the only easily decipherable words are "my friends"—repeated at the top of each increasingly inscrutable verse line—but they’re delivered with enough audible distress to suggest le Riche is ready to ditch them. The few other soundbites on the album that emerge from le Riche’s foggy cloud of a voice—"I’m not here/ I never was," "Where did my life go/ It’s on the ground," "I need a change"—suggest the singer is trying to retreat from the world even as his band is trying to thrust him to the frontlines.

This tug-of-war tension permeates the songs’ very structural DNA, constantly yielding surprising shifts: the deceptively upbeat twinkle of "Sun Drips" dissolves into a stalking, slow-motion krautrock strut; the wistful, melancholic verses of "Melatonin" are upended by a stomping, storming midsection powered by a twinned guitar line that sounds like broken glass—sparkling yet dangerously jagged. But if Fake Palms’ obfuscating approach threatens to pummel more outwardly melodic, mid-tempo turns like "Estate" into sluggish sludge, the pin-pricked riffs of disco-not-disco thumper "Sparkles" and "YTMATLDPH" poke holes for their fetching "ooh wee ooh" falsetto hooks to waft through, like steam rising out of the punctured cellophane film on a microwave TV dinner.

Though these songs date back to 2011, Fake Palms has the slight misfortune of emerging mere months after Viet Cong showed us how you can translate similar inputs—goth-schooled brooding, shoegaze haze, needling post-hardcore guitars—into something more expansive and emotionally direct. The structural intricacies and melodic integrity of this otherwise raw recording suggest le Riche is capable of pulling off something similarly bold. But for now, Fake Palms’ ocean-sized ambitions are confined to a grimy fish tank. - Pitchfork

"Fader Video Premiere"

Toronto band Fake Palms signed to Buzz Records (along with fellow Canadian rock band Dilly Dally) this spring, and are releasing their self-titled debut on August 28th. The band blends post-punk and pop to make fuzzy, melodic tunes worth blasting through your headphones while wandering your city late at night. Above, check out the video for "Sparkles," the second single off their new album, which bandleader Michael le Riche told The FADER is "all about sanity or lack thereof." The track glitters with suspense, just like its accompanying video. As le Riche put it, "just like in real life, there aren't always clear cut answers." Pre-order their album here, and peep Fake Palms' tour dates below. - The Fader

"Stereogum EP premiere"

Last year, we premiered a song from Fake Palms’ self-titled Buzz Records debut. The LP was recorded mostly live, with very little overdubbing. However, after something of a facelift that saw WISH’s Kyle Connolly joining on bass, Fake Palms headed into the studio to record their brand new EP Heavy Paranoia, taking more time to work out the instrumental tones and to create space in the mixes, resulting in a more polished version of their sound. “Collar Bone” is the first taste of Heavy Paranoia, and it’s a slinking bass-driven punk number with a DIIV-esque guitar lead. Stream it below, where you can also find a quote from frontman Mike le Riche.

I can’t fully describe how afraid I am to live in the modern world. It is a frightening time to be alive and I often think that we’re living in the opening monologue of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. We’re setting ourselves up for collapse environmentally and economically, and have some of the greatest minds in the world warning us over and over again, but we’re obsessed with iPhone apps, memes, and cheap gas. Donald Trump will become president and open racism and hate won’t just be allowed it will be enforced. Where’s my own private island? I want the fuck out of here. - Stereogum


2015 - Fake Palms LP
2016 - Heavy Paranoia EP
2017 - Pure Mind LP


Feeling a bit camera shy


Led by singer and guitarist Mike le Riche, Fake Palms have progressed over the last 18 months from a collection of demos recorded in le Riche's Toronto bedroom, into one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the thriving Toronto music scene. Their self-titled debut LP was recorded in early 2015 after le Riche recruited several longtime Toronto music stalwarts including members of Hooded Fang and Slim Twig's backing band, attracting immediate attention from Buzz Records. Tracked in a series of stripped down, live of the floor sessions in keeping with the project's bedroom origins the LP, released on Buzz in August of 2015, garnered praise from Pitchfork, Stereogum, Fader, and Noisey among others and propelled the band into a prolonged stretch of touring with bands like Alvvays, Metz, Protomartyr, HEALTH and Destruction Unit, solidifying Fake Palms' reputation as a punishing yet dynamic live act.
The band are currently in the studio with producer Josh Korody (Dilly Dally, Weaves, Fucked Up) working on an EP to be released on Buzz in the Fall of 2016. According to le Riche, the new material is reflective of the time the band has spent together as a unit, and broadens the scope of their approach to production while maintaining a commitment to directness and clarity. 
"With the EP I think we've found our footing in something new, albeit a logical progression from the first record" he says. "In terms of songwriting and production we tried to be as economical as possible and everything feels very tightly wound. The recording process was quick with most conversations revolving around what was essential to the song. We've started to write more as a group as well, so everyone's influences and tastes are starting to come through a bit more than before. All in all, I believe it's more cohesive and I think of it almost more as a mission statement than just a new batch of songs." 

Band Members