At The Pier we love discovering new artists and music. And, we love sharing these discoveries with fellow music lovers and fans. So, as we continue in our never ending search of good music—not just rock-reggae music—but, good music, we’re going outside the boundaries of the genre.
We feel this is important for lots of reasons. First, going outside the genre is like cleansing your pallet, but for your ears. And, with a lot of the rock-reggae genre becoming increasingly watered down and sadly repetitious, the time couldn’t be better to find some new sounds. Second, pushing the boundaries of our coverage helps us be better listeners and music consumers. Lastly, there is a whole musical world out there and we can all benefit from exploring it. Okay—enough with the soapbox and on with the music.
For this round of Artist Radar we decided to jump into the world of folk-rock. Now, we’re not talking about your parent’s folk music, like Leonard Cohen or Dave Von Ronk. We’re talking about folk-rock with an edge, with grit and a little New York City swagger. We are talking about Andy Palmer’s version of folk-rock. Palmer is a former New York City public defender whose work in the trenches of Brooklyn’s criminal justice system provides inspiration for his songwriting and gritty sound. Palmer has one of music’s most unique voices. It’s deep, scratchy, and authentic and has been compared to Tom Waits. In fact, it’s his voice that sets him apart. Fans will have to listen for themselves to truly understanding what we are talking about. And, we’re confident you won’t be disappointed!
Artist Radar: Andy Palmer
The Denver, CO based singer songwriter has released two studio albums, a live album and most recently a single and b-side. Palmer’s studio albums include 2011’s Sometime Around and 2013’s Hazard of the Die. Both releases were met with glowing reviews from Denver media and national music bloggers. In late 2014 Palmer released the single “Storm’s Not Coming”, including b-side “The Hill” via Immersive Records.
“’Storm’s Not Coming’ and ‘The Hill’ really capture the direction I’ve been seeking for a while. Storm is just kind of nasty and driving—kind of reminds me of some of Steve Earl’s stuff — but grittier,” explains Palmer. “Storm’s Not Coming” is a bird’s eye view of events around our nation and the world beyond. The song drifts into environmental concerns and even power differentials between the haves and the have nots. “’The Hill’, for me, is new and exciting because it’s all me—totally exposed, singing a cappella. And the tune is fairly emotional for me. It’s really an ode to our parents, who cared for us through thick and thin, as best they could. And I rely on the spiritual tradition in this tune, which adds a certain weight to it and a well of intensity from which I try to draw when I’m singing it,” continues Palmer.
Like many musicians, Palmer’s influences come from a variety of places. “When I was younger, I listened non-stop to reggae and jam. That lasted for years until I discovered Tom Waits,” reflects Palmer. As a music listener, he tends to fully immerse himself into one band or genre for an extended time, “almost to the point of overkill,” laughs Palmer. Following the reggae and jam immersion, folk and rock became Palmer’s sounds of choice. “I listened to almost nothing but Waits for over a year. Other artists trickled in, of course, and there was always an undercurrent of Dylan and more folky guys like Greg Brown.” he says. Palmer is currently on an all locals kick via Open Air and Colorado Public Radio so he can learn about what’s going on in the local scene. “Oh, and I’m always up for a good Beck album,” adds Palmer.
Palmer doesn’t attempt to spoon feed his listeners with messages. His songs are often filled with metaphors, imagery and purposeful abstractness. “I hope that listeners discern messages for themselves. I try to write songs that contain a few different messages, which can be interpreted different ways,” Palmer explains. His songs often include some type of social commentary, whether its social injustice or environmental issues, Palmer tends to identify with the human struggle.
Palmer’s songwriting process has evolved and shifted over the years. He’s progressed from “whenever-the-muse-comes-calling to sit-your-ass-down-and-write a few times a week,” says Palmer. He starts by writing down phrases that pop into his head. When Palmer sits down to write he starts by flipping through a notebook to see if any grab him. “Or, I’ll just let a phrase germinate in my head for a few months until its importance or usage reveals itself.” Palmer adds, “And nine times out of ten, I write my lyrics and melody and most the guitar parts somewhat simultaneously.”
Palmer finds that most people initially gravitate towards songs that have a certain instrumentation or vocal quality that is appealing to them. Only later do most listeners really “listen” to the lyrics and decipher their meaning. “Lyrics are hugely important to me. I’ve had ‘favorite’ songs in my lifetime, only to later discover that I never really understood what the singer was saying or what he or she intended. So I operate from that starting point—find an interesting sound and unique vocal quality first,” shares Palmer.
Music Video Premiere for “The Storm’s Not Coming”:
The Pier is excited to Premiere Andy Palmer’s music video for his new single, “Storm’s Not Coming” on February 12, 2015. The video was directed by The Pier’s own Tage Plantell and features killer visual effects, several interesting characters, along with a 6,000 gallon water truck to make it rain—literally. Come by next Thursday to view the Video Premiere!
Download a FREE MP3 by Andy Palmer with the song “Grrr” that’s available inside our MP3 Massive section by clicking HERE!
Watch: Andy Palmer – “Storms Not Coming” (Directed by Tage Plantell)