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Palma Violets

Anthemic punk bands from the UK are so few and far between it’s quite enlightening that one act finally shines through post 2010s. Named after a brand of confectionary or “sweeties” (Parma Violets), its hardly surprising their sound draws a line through psych/garage, NEW YORK DOLLS, SUICIDE, punk of ’77, The STROKES and BABYSHAMBLES. Favourites of the NME, if not anyone else within the industry, London’s love-hearts PALMA VIOLETS might not have longevity in mind, but for now, they’ll do.
Formed in Lambeth, school friends Samuel Thomas Fryer (vocals, guitar), Alexander “Chilli” Jensen (vocals, bass), Jeffrey Peter Mayhew (keyboards) and William Martin Doyle (drums) all met at the 2010 Reading Festival and decided there and then to form a band. After a year of shaping out the feasibility of the act, 2012 saw them rehearse and duly move in to the purpose-built house at Studio 180. Surrounded by other like-minded creative sources from the burgeoning art and music scene, it was not long before A&R people were salivating over the prospects of the capital’s next big thing.
Rough Trade won the bidding war for their signatures in a similar pattern to The STROKES from a dozen years back; and the hype was on for the debut double A-sided single, `Best Of Friends’ (b/w `Last Of The Summer Wine’), but it was no hit – just an NME song of the year!
If the Britpop factor was the only missing link then the securing of PULP’s Steve Mackey (and Rory Attwell) to produce their debut album was significant. Buoyed by another one-that-got-away `Step Up For The Cool Cats’, the band aimed a maximum 180 (2013) {*8} as their chart bid and, despite some sour reviews (including Record Collector: 1/5*!?), it struck No.11. `We Found Love’ – B-side a cover of The Rivieras’ `California Sun’: made famous by RAMONES – was another to fall short of download requirements to hit the chart, but Britain’s angelic re-starts came up with the goods on `Rattlesnake Highway’, `Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’ and the concluding 8-minutes of `14’.
Their marmite effect was always going to make that difficult, but much anticipated, sophomore album more uneasy with steadfast fans of The LIBERTINES, BABYSHAMBLES, The VACCINES et al. Bombastic, rambunctious and rebellious, producer John Leckie was ready to roughen up – not sharpen – their edges on the Top 30, DANGER IN THE CLUB (2015) {*7}. Verging as close to The TRASHMEN on a night out with the RAMONES, `Hollywood (I Got It)’ was the Violet’s show-piece here, while `Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better On The Beach’ was very much in The CLASH mould. The fact that the set came across as some karaoke punk party maligned their gung-ho fervour, but it didn’t detract that `Secrets Of America’, `Gout! Gang! Go!’, `English Tongue’, the title track single and the BLUR-esque `No Money Honey’ were incredibly infectious.
PALMA VIOLETS called it a day the following year; Jesson re-surfaced in autumn 2018 when his band, Crewel Intentions, dispatched debut download single, `Youth In Overload’.
© MC Strong/MCS May2015-May2019

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