Palberta - Roach Goin' Down - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Palberta - Roach Goin' Down

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-15
Palberta - Roach Goin' Down
Palberta - Roach Goin' Down

At thirty-seven minutes for twenty-two songs, Roach Goin’ Down, the new album from Wharf Cat label artist Palberta is a sampler platter of the band’s concise, fluid, dynamic, and free form musical style.

The trio of multi-instrumentalists from New York favors the unique over the predictable, which, depending on one’s mood can be engaging just as easily as it can be off-putting. Opener “Surfing With Berry” is a sqwanky surf instrumental that’s followed by the title track “Roach Goin’ Down,” a stomping do-wop number that hints at The Slits in it’s frenetic, almost-jazz like structure. This is a theme running throughout.

There are a few artists that come to mind when listening – the lyrical speed of The Minutemen, the punk ethos of The Slits, and hints of other indie bands that strive for some originality within the constraints of songwriting (The Hinds) were mine – but the beauty of what they’re doing is that they’ve added a ton of things to their musical brew, so the comparisons are superficial at best. This is a band calling their own shots and gleefully thumbing their nose at the categorists.

There are a lot of instrumentals tossed in haphazardly over the 22 songs, but the way Palberta works vocals in is in itself just another jarring, off-kilter ingredient. Songs have sliding, twangy riffs, golden-era-of-radio choral singing mixed with shouts of punky fervor, a sense of child-like abandon that echoes in everything, and schizophrenic stylistic changes that keep you on your toes even as you’re not always sure which was to step. Without doubt, this is unsettling music in the sense that you want to find a way in, yet the band confounds you at every turn. Part of you wants to write it off as self-indulgent noodling from barely accomplished musicians trying to cover up their obvious flaws with the blanket of “art.” But then, that’s what critics said about punk and even rock and roll. That latter cynicism is what you need to shed in order to appreciate Palberta.

Their reputation has been built on their live performances, and their music sounds as if it’s the soundtrack to performance, which admittedly makes it sound a bit like it’s missing a key element in order to work completely. That said, however, the band’s music is challenging and compelling at its core, and those are qualities that earn the badge for artistry. While one could go down the road of artistic debate, and Palberta certainly works amongst the outer orbits of art, the fact is these quirky numbers will worm their way into your head and you’ll find yourself humming atonal riffs or murmuring their repeated choruses as you go about your day.

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