Alan Palomo is one of those names you can’t seem to hear in a sentence without the mention of Chaz Bundick or Ernest Greene; members ‘The Chillwave Super 3’, if you like. Although, this year has seen them separate themselves from that annoyingly overused chillwave tag and define themselves as separate artists. Bundick went funk, Greene emotional and Palomo has surprisingly stayed true to his roots apart from delving more into lo-fi production.
Neon Indian’s debut Psychic Chasms seems like an uncovered treasure. Although it received some attention, it feels like there was so much potential and enthusiasm that went unnoticed by many emanating from this one man who happened to create incredibly catchy and electronically progressive songs. Aside from the fact Neon Indian should be more popular than he is currently; his sophomore effort is different to earlier offerings. Once past the original shock of the lowering in production of some of the songs on Era Extraña, it feels like the accessibility and spark generated from Psychic Chasms has been toned down and Palomo has honed in on some more guttural electronic roots.
Within the first seconds of Era Extraña, there is already some icicle sharp experimental synth that sets a noisier and highly chaotic atmosphere. “Heart: Attack” is just one part of a three part instrumental instalment featured on the album and proves that instrumental music is still highly enjoyable amongst a set of pop songs, and this is a brilliant gauge to set the tone for 37 minutes of electronic in its purest form. After one of the more chilled out moments on the album, “Polish Girl” wakes you up like a shot of espresso with its upbeat melody and high-pitched synth that sounds like 80s disco distorted through an old computer, Palomo’s smooth but distorted vocals gliding with ease through a happy pil- induced alternate universe.
Although, there are some ‘wtf?’ moments on the album, “Blindside Kiss” sounds like garage rock gone soft and “Suns Irrupt” brings hypnotic and firework fizzling synths with a woozy synth background as Palomo whisper-growls “Suns irrupt / I wake up I wake up” repeatedly, seeing Neon Indian sounding sinister but also at their best ever. There are more highs and lows on this album than most but with an album that’s so varied, it’s not expected that every song will hit the mark. Era Extraña does not flow as smoothly as Psychic Chasms but the influences are in all the right places and it seems that Alan Palomo is wearing them proudly on his sleeve.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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