Thursday, 13 December 2012


If you haven't already heard it, I heartily entreat you to listen to this song. It's a real doozie and it's from London boys - Lambeth, to be precise - Palma Violets, who take their name from the iconic British sweets: Parma Violets. The song is called 'Best Of Friends' and it's got a completely throwback sound that smells very much like punk: brazen, energetic, frustrated. In fact, it sounds very much like what The Jam were doing in the late 1970s/early 80s, with regards to maintaining that "angry young man" mentality of their punk contemporaries whilst dressing in suits and incorporating a whole lot of mod-adored rock into their sound. I'm saying it sounds like that, not that it is that, just so you know.

I've chosen to share their performance of this song on Later... with Jools Holland because it is not only the first place I heard it, but - having now listened to the recording - I think it's actually a better quality version, going more hand-in-hand with their slapdash punk/rock sensibilities. Being live, the energy that the band put into their music becomes a lot more evident than merely hearing it on a record - they throw themselves about, embellish instrumentals with shouts and yelps, and generally put every fibre of their being into playing every note, shouting down the microphone, or smashing the hell out of the drums.

Indeed, guitarist Sam Fryer has said:

We want people to really feel it - we want the bass to rip through people's bodies, the bass drum to go straight inside your head.

Here we have distorted chords thrashed out and left hanging in the air whilst the vocals for the verse come out in a slur, before the booming chorus with all the oi-type yelling and shouting as a vessel for the simple, yet heartrending refrain "I wanna be your best friend, I don't want you to be my girl". It's a quintessentially British 'thing' - from their name, to the style of music they play (and how they play it), along with other British nuances like another, slightly strange song of theirs called 'Last Of The Summer Wine', named after a comedy series about a bunch of mishap-making old people in the countryside. These guys are already on the rise (they won NME's Track Of The Year award with this song), which is a fabulous thing; whoever said guitar music is dead? Because, judging from what I can hear, it isn't. And if it is dead, then Palma Violets are carrying it on their shoulders.

And of course, if you haven't, listen to the official, album-quality version of 'Best Of Friends'. Their debut album will be released on 25th February 2013.

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