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Parlor Walls

Parlor Walls just hits different on Belly Up EP

photo by Michelle LoBianco

There’s a self-described “creative salad” take-out joint where I go to grab lunch sometimes when I'm working my day gig in midtown Manhattan (yes “The Deli” has a desk jockey job…so much for 24 hour rock ‘n’ roll hedonism!) and when I visited the other day and ordered my go-to order with spicy shredded chicken, warm grains, black beans, cotija cheese, avocado, scallions, tortilla chips, and marinated kale topped off with a drizzle of Mexican Goddess dressing I informed the “salad artisan” that while their menu is solid overall, this particular menu item is my fave and he sagely offered, “yeah, it just hits different” and I thought “wow, what an apt phrase for that certain je ne sais quoi that sets certain things apart in some difficult-to-articulate but undeniable manner whether it’s a salad or a sandwich or a song.” 

And so when I listen to the band Parlor Walls they remind me of this salad because their music just hits different in a way that’s hard to pin down—at once dread-inducing and ravishing—with pungent flavor notes like musically-marinated kale with cotija cheese and scallions as heard on their most recent EP Belly Up—an evocative title phrase that can mean either the act of sidling up to something appealing (“let’s belly up to the bar and enjoy a cold brewski”) or being in a state where one is hopelessly ruined or defeated (“my stock portfolio went belly up after the pork belly future market collapsed”) and it’s a paradoxical dynamic that's perfectly apt for the band.

Belly Up opens up with a tune called “In Knots” (shot off, limb for limb / just another day when / belly up, belly up / eyes are peeking, through your hands / it is in knots, it is in knots) that sounds like a sweater or a mental state or a lifetime of accumulated inhibitions just about to unravel but somehow remaining precariously intact for the durations of three minutes at least, a song that opens (and closes) with a few seconds of mellifluous vocal harmonies before launching into a buzzy sub-bass drone backed by tribal tom-toms and the sound of a smoke alarm with low batteries overlaid with thick gelatinous guitar chords smeared across the song’s surfaces.

So maybe you see what I mean by just hitting differently but if you don’t just keep listening. The next track “Work!” combines an undulating melody line with woozy, seasick textures and the titular exclamation to create an upside-down rewrite of “Whistle While You Work” updated for the neoliberal workplace while “The Lock” is chill-out music for paranoiacs and “Hour After Hour” is the perfect dance soundtrack for those same paranoiacs after ingesting a decent dose of electrolytes and vitamin C and who knows what else. Which are all just my own subjective song interpretations of course because Parlor Walls are likely to hit everyone a little differently you see… (Jason Lee)

For fans of: Guerilla Toss, Spirit of the Beehive, Portishead's Third

Parlor Walls are: Alyse Lamb: vox, guitar; Chris Mulligan: drums, samples; Andy Kinsey: bass, synth

Belly Up recorded at Marcata Studios & The Brick Theater; engineered and mixed by Kevin McMahon & Ernie Indradat

Upcoming live appearances: 6/23 Our Wicked Lady rooftop show
Live score for Nitehawk Cinema "First Nasty Women Feminist Shorts"


Parlor Walls release debut LP “Opposites” at Sunnyvale on 03.09

Experimental art punk trio Parlor Walls are set to release their debut full-length “Opposites” through Northern Spy records on March 10.  Recently released single “Birthday” (streaming below) initially presents a simple percussive pattern in disguised waltz tempo, underneath strummed trebly electric guitar, brass and reed woodwind pads and soft droney vocals.  All of that changes with an angular skronk cadence taking over to deliver vocals declaring “you wanted everything – everything, everything.”  Including saxophone as an integral sonic element suggests jazz influences, however the phrasing and jagged rhythms positions the instrument closer to John Zorn’s often dissonant avant-garde.  The percussion becomes more nuanced as instrumental segments progress up until vocals break in with the phrase “don’t you know I’m perfect!”  A fuller version of the opening progression returns before one final launch into an intensified stomp where the song’s meaning (and title) is ultimately revealed. The band will play a release show at Sunnyvale on 3/9 with The Dreebs & Arian Shafiee (of Guerilla Toss). - Dave Cromwell


THICK works on 2017 release + plays at The Footlight 12/9; Sunnyvale 12/14

This week, Brooklyn’s girlwave trio THICK take their sandpapery brand of surf rock to support two fellow bands’ album releases. On Friday 12/9, they will join Baby Acid at The Footlight in Ridgewood as the latter release their new LP Don’t Blush When I Rip You Open. "Trash jazz" rockers Parlor Walls and female-fronted five-piece Ex-Girlfriends will round up the bill. Then on Wednesday 12/14, THICK will perform with shoegaze group Lazyeyes and punk funk troupe Toyzanne in order to support post-punk quartet Journalism, who will release their brand-new single. THICK themselves have played a number of shows over the last few weeks in support of their new EP It’s Always Something (which you can stream below.) They have major plans going into 2017, but you can still catch them before the year’s up. Don’t miss out. - Will Sisskind

Parlor Walls releases "CUT" EP at Shea Stadium on 11.12

Last week we blogged about this 11.12 show at Shea Stadium, but for some strange reason we missed the fact that that very night another noisy local band called Parlor Walls will be celebrating the release of their new EP "CUT," released the day after on Famous Swords Records. Singer Alyse Lamb (of Eula's fame) says about her project: "The music swims between expression and restraint, nestling in the cracks of warmth and dissonance. We like to call it "trash jazz"..." Even though jazz elements (mostly in the shape of Kate Mohanty's saxophone) indeed have a place in Parlor Wall's music, don't expect to find jazz fans at the release, because the band's repertoire is predominantly a celebration of the drone (not of the flying kind). Preview single "Bloodsport" (streaming below) perfectly exemplifies that notion.  


Parlor Walls adds saxophonist to the mix and announces summer shows

Eula’s magnetic front woman Alyse Lamb and her musical partner/illustrator Chris Mulligan have added kickass avant-garde saxophonist Kate Mohanty to their project Parlor Walls. As great as their self-titled EP is to enjoy at loud volumes (not to mention free to download off Bandcamp), this is a band you really must experience live. Aside from rocking our favorite stages, they played a live score to a screening of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari in March. Their songs navigate through tense, distorted worlds with a driven voice, colorful brass howls and hiccups, and bouts of enthusiasm. Even if you hate moving your feet, don't be surprised if you've caught yourself with a case of bobble-head syndrome. Parlor Walls is playing a slew of shows this summer, beginning with: 6/2 at Shea Stadium, 6/5 at Big Irv's (381 Hooper St., BK), 6/10 at Alphaville, 6/25 at The Cake Shop, and Alyse's birthday show on 7/2 at Alphaville. Eula is playing Palisades 6/13 with Xiu Xiu. - Leora Mandel


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