Palaxy Tracks
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Palaxy Tracks

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"4 Bands With Great Things in the Works"

The fact that Palaxy Tracks hasn’t yet found a major audience or a major label is both unbelievable and incredibly sad. The band makes some of the most lushly beautiful indie-rock of any group out there, period, and in 2003 released one of the most gorgeous and heartbreaking records that nobody seemed to hear. That record is Cedarland, a plaintive little collection of songs that grows increasingly addictive the more times you listen to it. The band originated in Austin, Texas, and released The Long Wind Down in 2000 before pulling up stakes and relocating to Chicago. Brandon Durham, the group’s vocalist and principal songwriter, has a knowingness about his voice that inspires immediate trust, and songs that are deceptively simple and effortlessly catchy. The music on Cedarland ranges from the languid and countryesque to straightforward, wall-of-sound guitar rock, with a host of guitars, pianos, and vintage organs shimmering throughout. Evidence of this band’s greatness was made clear when, after seeing one too many aggresively fashionable bands tweak, twitter, and make formless noise at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York, Palaxy Tracks came onstage to play a lovely and completely unaffected set of songs - a potent reminder of just what kind of beautiful sounds can be made by a couple of guys with guitars and someone who knows how to write a good tune. Like a snapshot taken at twilight, their music is a photograph of a landscape caught at perpetual dusk. - Visionaire


"Best New Music"

Out of the silence, an organ gently swells. Moments later a ride cymbal washes over the mix, as the rhythm section falls into a pillowy groove. Guitars chime together in bittersweet harmony, and you’ve arrived. This is Cedarland: It’s a quaint and quiet community set underneath permanent cloud cover. Chance of rain: 100 percent. Your tour guide will be Palaxy Tracks’ singer/songwriter Brandon Durham, whose perfectly even baritone encompasses the essence of life in this town — calming, largely disaffected and remotely British. Taking a cue or two from influences like Joy Division and The Smiths, Durham then applies a post-rock aesthetic and ends up with distinctive aural architecture that places Cedarland, Palaxy Tracks’ second LP, somewhere between Chicago and London. The prominent vibe throughout these 11 tracks is one of wistful longing. Song titles like “Posthumous,” “The Awful Truth” and “Song About A Ghost” are justified with a moody production that features droning lap steel, singing saws and weeping Wurlitzers among other lush adournments. The vibe is so thick that even it’s most rocking, distorted moments come dipped in cough syrup. So while it’s certainly not the right place for a wild weekend getaway, it’s a great place to curl up with a good book, sip your afternoon tea or just take a nap. - CMJ New Music Monthy


"Recommended Show"

Home. A four-letter word as elusive as it is powerful. In many ways, the career of Palaxy Tracks, which formed in Austin in the late Nineties before relocating to Chicago in 2001, is an ongoing attempt to redefine the word. Their stirring 2000 debut, the recently reissued The Long Wind Down, built a loyal cadre of devotees behind the unique voice of Brandon Durham, whose smooth baritone is ensconced within a driving, effects-laden, dream-rock façade. Songs about discomfort and suffocation give the album a sense of losing touch with whatever it is that made Austin home. Durham says the band’s relocation to the Windy City, which happened after a triumphant last stand at SXSW 2001, was entirely personal. “I grew up in Austin,” says Durham. “I love it, it’s a great city, and I can’t wait to move back. But I could count on one hand the number of times I’d been out of Texas, so it was necessary in a way. And everybody else [bassist Keith Grap and guitarist/keyboardist Brad Murph] just kind of went along with it, except for [then-drummer] Nathan [Roberts], who wanted to stay around his family.” The Chicago era has produced a new drummer (Ben Kane), as well as an intimate new release, Cedarland, out on Austin’s Peek-a-Boo Records. The idyllic Cedarland is a homesick album, about “wanting to be back, wishing you wouldn’t have left,” says Durham, who named the disc after his true hometown of Cedar Park. Despite songs like “To the Chicago Abyss,” titled after a Ray Bradbury short, the band is by no means miserable in Chitown. “It’s not bad here,” offers Durham. “We all like it. It’s just total culture shock, coming from not only Austin, but growing up in the country.” Shocking as in finding out somebody was killed outside your own window, which happened at Durham’s seedy original Chicago residence. Make no mistake, when Palaxy Tracks follows labelmates Black Lipstick and the Octopus Project onstage at the former Mercury, they should quickly settle into the comfort zone that only comes with being home. - The Austin Chronicle


"Review of Cedarland"

Beneath the piano and cut-up drum tracks, creeps a low monotone: “A stranger in your own town; if everyone knew. …” The voice is Brandon Durham, who shepherded his band Palaxy Tracks to Chicago in 2001, uncertain of his and their place in Austin. “… the real you.” Oh, but we do. Those who soaked in the dewy screeches that radiated from the crummy PA at the Ritz Lounge know. So do those who bask in the warmth of their annual SXSW homecoming shows. Cedarland eliminates some of the starry electric effluvia of Palaxy Tracks’ 2000 masterwork, The Long Wind Down, spotlighting Durham, whose sensitive, Nick Drake-like sentiments and delivery are the stuff of dorm-room mopefests and teenage-girl sob sessions. An overwhelming sense of place, physical and emotional, pervades Cedarland, which still packs an effects-happy punch in the right places. The cheeky title “To the Chicago Abyss” adds an extra layer to this rumination on love, time, and the meaning of home. Brad Murph’s punchy riffs bounce off the well-timed electric wails of Durham, against a creamy backdrop of sculpted fuzztones that drop in and out of the mix. Ornate Pachelbel moments include opener “The Sediment,” unquestionably ripe wedding material, and “The Awful Truth,” an eight-minute mood-piece that breathes pastoral shoegaze. Cedarland expands Palaxy Tracks’ palette, balancing emotional Anglophiliac romps (“The Wasp,” “Girls on Bikes”) with gentle, otherworldly interludes (“Good Morning Nurse,” “Cedarland”). Palaxy Tracks’ real home? Your stereo. - The Austin Chronicle


Discography

Twelve Rooms, CD (2004, Peek-A-Boo Records)
Cedarland, CD (2003, Peek-A-Boo Records)
The Long Wind Down, CD (2000, Grey Flat Records)
The Family Tree, 7" (1999, Grey Flat Records)

Photos

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Bio

Palaxy Tracks formed several years ago in Austin, TX, evolving from singer Brandon Durham’s home recording project through various configurations to the current line-up, now residing in Chicago, IL. The name stems from claims about some distinctly human-esque footprints alongside dinosaur tracks in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas. Creationists believe these “giant man tracks” contradict the conventional geologic timetable, which holds that humans did not appear on earth until over 60 million years after dinosaurs became extinct. While this is an interesting story, our Palaxy men are responsible for a different sort of tracks, those left by guitars, pianos, vintage organs and layered vocals.
Palaxy Tracks’ first record, The Long Wind Down, was released by Chicago indie Grey Flat in 2000. A record alternately wispy and angular, swimming with shimmering hooks and shot through with searing starbursts of guitar, The Long Wind Down earned the band an avid local fanbase and was named the best Texas record of 2000 by The Austin Chronicle. Not long after its release, the band’s core members relocated from Austin to Chicago and began work on Cedarland, enlisting guests from such luminaries as the Sea and Cake, Archer Prewitt, Poi Dog Pondering, Okkervil River, and former Grey Flat labelmates Shearwater. The result further textures their supple grooves with such chamber-pop trimmings as mellotron, singing saw, lap steel, mandolin and Wurlitzer, creating a record with lush instrumentation and intimate, pillowy warmth.
Cedarland, a gentle, half-concept album about the ghosts of Durham’s hometown of Cedar Park, Texas, is a sleepy mix of crystalline pop and delicate instrumentation, an American rock record that channels — almost accidentally — the Spring rain melancholy of every British LP you clung to for dear life in the early ’80s. Cedarland recalls the depth of Joy Division with the quiet, ethereal luster of Galaxie 500, Texas’ own Bedhead and even Brian Eno circa Another Green World, while Durham’s overarching theme — it’s over, but still we cling — is calmly and resolutely worked out through the course of these 11 picture-perfect pop songs.
Durham’s terminally wistful croon mixes a timbre close to Ian Curtis’ with a smoother, breathier tone that recalls Neil Halstead. It is a voice that’s both distinctive and totally unaffected; his singing and lovelorn songwriting continually invite the listener into a profoundly personal space. But while these songs may be confessional in tone, they’re generous and inclusive, never self-absorbed. They’re tender and mournful, never angst-ridden. This isn’t a diary of personal pain, but universal emotions. Cedarland is a vision of rainy English skies from beneath Texas’ wide, blue ones.