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Archive for the ‘Palberta’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PALBERTA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #210 (May 18, 2021).

Palberta has a great name (even if they are not from Alberta).  They are an underground Philly band.  I saw them a few years ago, and this attitude of relaxed yet frenetic fun was evident then as well.

While many of us have gotten better at using technology to feel close to our friends and collaborators over the past year, there’s still no replacement for being in the same room as someone who you swear can read your mind. That’s what it feels like to watch punk band Palberta, whose music makes magic out of repeated phrases sung in tight harmony and charmingly zany pop hooks. For its Tiny Desk (home) concert, shot on a MiniDV and a Hi8, the band crams into Nina’s Philly basement for a set that’s a testament to the group’s tight-knit collaboration and playful exuberance.

The band plays six songs in fifteen minutes (including the time it takes to switch instruments).  Five songs are off of their new album Palberta5000.

The guitar-bass-drums trio is made up of Ani Ivry-Block, Nina Ryser and Lily Konigsberg, and each member sings and plays each instrument. Here, they trade places every couple of songs.  The songs aren’t over-complicated but still manage to surprise at every turn – a true Palberta specialty.

The “frenzied opener” “Eggs n’ Bac'” has a wild instrumental opening which jumps into a faster indie punk sound for most of the song.  All squeezed into less than 2 minutes.  For this song Nina is on bass, Lily on guitar and Ani on drums.  Their sound reminds me of early Dead Milkmen.  Is this a Philly thing?

For “No Way” Nina stays on bass, Lily switches to drums and Ani takes the guitar.  Nina sings lead with the other two giving great tight harmonies.  For these songs the bass lays down the main melody and the guitars play a lot of single note melodies that run counter to the bass.

For the “queasy-yet-sentimental” “The Cow” it’s the same lineup but Lily sings lead on the first verse and Ani sings leads on the second verse.  The staccato guitar style on this song is so unusual.

For the “anxious and melodic” “Big Bad Want” Lily stays on drums and sings lead, Ani switches to bass and Nina gets the guitar.  Ani plays some chords on the bass and you can really see how the guitar plays a repeated pattern while the bass takes more of a lead role.  The call and response for this chorus is really tight.  Nina even plays a guitar solo.

“Sound of the Beat” (from 2018’s Roach Goin’ Down) is “a sweet testament to grooving” and gets a full lineup switch.  Nina sits behind the kit, Ani is back on guitar and Lily is on bass.  This song is really catchy–surely the catchiest thing in this set.  It has a feeling like early Sleater-Kinney.  All three sing harmony lead.

They end with “Before I Got Here” with same line up.  It’s one of their longer songs at over three minutes.  Ani and Lily switch off lead vocals for the fast verses.  After a minute or so, the tempo shifts and the last two minutes are a slow instrumental jam with Ani playing a guitar solo while Lily keeps the melody on bass.

It’s tempting to try to see if one of them is “better” at one instrument or another, but they are all clearly very comfortable on each instrument.  This leads to endless possibilities for songs.

[READ: May 1, 2021] Weird Women

“Introduction” by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

Why summarize when they say what this book is about so well

Any student of the literary history of the weird or horror story can hardly be faulted for expecting to find a genre bereft of female writers, at least in its first two centuries. …

Yet there were women writing early terror tales—in fact, there were a lot of them. During the second half of the nineteenth century, when printing technologies enabled the mass production of cheap newspapers and magazines that needed a steady supply of material, many of the writers supplying that work were women. The middle classes were demanding reading material, and the plethora of magazines, newspapers, and cheap books meant a robust marketplace for authors. Women had limited career opportunities, and writing was probably more appealing than some of the other avenues open to them. Though the publishing world was male-dominated, writing anonymously or using masculine-sounding names (such as “M.E. Braddon”) gave women a chance to break into the market. It was also still a time when writers were freer than today’s writers to write work in a variety of both styles and what we now call genres. A prolific writer might pen adventure stories, romantic tales, domestic stories, mystery or detective fiction, stories of the supernatural—there were really no limits.

Spiritualism—the belief that spirit communication could be conducted by a medium at a séance, and could be scientifically proven (despite continued evidence to the contrary)—was widely popular, and so one might expect to find that many writers of this period were producing ghost stories. But ghost stories were just one type of supernatural story produced by women writers at this time. Women were also writing stories of mummies, werewolves, mad scientists, ancient curses, and banshees. They were writing tales of cosmic horror half a century before Lovecraft ever put pen to paper, and crafting weird westerns, dark metaphorical fables, and those delicious, dread-inducing gems that are simply unclassifiable.

ELIZABETH GASKELL-“The Old Nurse’s Story” (1852)
Gaskell wrote primarily about social realism, but she also wrote this creepy story.  The set up of this story is fascinating. A nursemaid is telling a story to her new charges.  The story is about their mother–from when the nursemaid used to watch her.  The story seems like one of simple haunting–strange things are afoot at this mansion.  But there’s a lot more going on.  I love the way everyone is so calm about the broken pipe organ playing music day and night.  Way back then, the children’s mother saw a girl outside and went to play with her.  But it was winter and when they found the child, alone, under a tree, there was no evidence of anyone else being there with her.  That’s when we learn the history of this house and the way the owner treated his daughters.  The ending gets a little confusing, but when you unpack it, there’s some wonderful deviance at hand. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 18, 2018] Old Maybe

I had never heard of Old Maybe before this show, although I understand that they have been playing together for a while. (Their earliest demos are from 2014).

The band consists of Jazz Adam (guitar and vocals), Ricardo Balmaseda (bass and vocals) and Nina Ryser (drums).

The only person I knew in the band was Nina Ryser whom I had seen on this very stage when she played with Palberta a year or so ago.

But this band belongs to Jazz Adam on vocals and guitar.  She invited anyone of color or non-cis to the front of the audience before the show began.

I didn’t know much about her, so I have learned that

in 2015 Adam began playing solo shows, performing most songs a capella, creating vocal layers with looping and effects pedals.  Adam attributes her lack of stage fright to her background in theater and stand up comedy. “I am able to be myself onstage,” she says. “And I am aggressive.” [Quote from The Spark).

Adam has been pushing that belief in Philadelphia via All Mutable, a booking collective she started with Nicki Duval and Robin Meeker-Cummings. The mission of the collective is to “diversify lineups sonically and racially,” she says. “Our focus is to book lineups that represent and attract those who are under-represented in this music scene, including (but not limited to) POC, queer identified, trans identified, and those who identify as non-binary. We also hope to sonically diversify lineups, and represent genres that are not often recognized in this culturally homogenized city.”

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 24, 2017] Palm

I saw Palm open for Dilly Dally last year and I enjoyed their set a lot.  I instantly found their bandcamp site and downloaded Trading Basics (Ostrich Vacation is a bit more out there).  This show at PhilaMOCA was ostensibly an album release party for their new EP, Shadow Expert.  But when I asked the bassist if that meant the were going to throw confetti he just laughed.  Later Eve Alpert said she was really blown away that so many people came (it was sold out).  So it was cool to be at that show.

I was really excited to see them in such a small place and I planted myself right up front to watch what they were doing (those chords!).  After about four songs someone came thundering in from who knows where and started slam dancing (she was the only one), and I wound up pretty far back after that, which sucked.  It was also really really stupid hot in there, but Palm transcended the scene and played an awesome set.

They played most (but I don’t think all) of the new EP.  It even sounded like they may have thrown in some brand new songs too, but I’m not sure.  They started with “Walkie Talkie” and the opening strange chords and notes of the EP–it’s so interesting to watch them play this stuff.  And the fact that they are perfectly in sync and never miss a beat is just outstanding. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 24, 2017] Palberta

For Palberta, I came down from the balcony because the room had cleared out some–it was really hot so people headed outside for a mew minutes.  I grabbed a spot pretty close and then just before the band went on a tall fellow with artificial flowers (that seemed like he was going to give to the band but never did) stood on front of me.

I’d only heard of Palberta after seeing that they were going to open for Palm.  They have gotten some write ups in some pretty major publications (in Feb they were mention in Rolling Stone as 1 of 10 new bands to get to know).  In that article, Rolling Stone says

sing disjointed playground punk that embraces both dissonance and innocence, trading instruments as quickly as they change ideas: A good 80 percent of the songs poke and scurry off before two minutes are up. “At this point writing short songs feels more intuitive for us than intentional – it’s the natural way,” says Nina Ryser. “It kind of reflects the song writing process itself: frenzied, fast, kind of jumbled.”

And that’s a pretty apt description of the band (I’m fairly surprised that they were mentioned there at all).

And the band says: (more…)

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