About this time last year, my digging through Bandcamp’s Philadelphia tag on a regular basis led me to a captivating dream-pop outfit from State College called Sea Offs — and that opened up an even bigger rabbit hole of sorts.
Of the two singer-guitarists in that band, Olivia J. Price was the first to show up elsewhere on our radar in the band Queue and their Spotify hit “Frontier.” But her songwriting partner Rashmit Arora is equally versatile — these are folks rooted in Penn State’s music school we’re talking about here, it makes sense — and his other band Palmlines made the trip down to Philly to record a set of songs for this week’s Key Studio Session.
Where Arora’s work in Sea Offs is driven by tone and atmosphere, with hints of folk and dreampop commingling in a beautiful mix, Palmlines are a bit more complex. Bandmates Brad Sorman on guitar, Otto Kuehrmann on bass, Sebastian Goodridge on drums, and Jaren Angud on percussion play intricate arrangements that are refreshingly challenging in how far they venture beyond the trappings of standard 4/4 meter and verse-chorus-verse structure.
Take “Like Kites,” which they played live in their Key Session: it alternates between a Dismemberment Plan-ish push-pull, a simmering slowcore groove and bold, stratospheric Sigur Ros crescendos. The nimble “Dull Brights,” which opens the set, flexes a similar variety, with Aroroa’s elegant voice holding the center with warm and emotional melodies reminiscent of aughties Brit rockers Doves; check a video below of “Seagulls (Cemented)” for Palmlines as their poppiest, stream the entire session via Soundcloud, and give them a follow on Facebook for word on their upcoming Philly dates.