When you see something described as pop, you might be thinking of the Taylor Swifts, the Miley Cyruses and Christina Aguileras of the world. That simple onomatopoeia comes laden with associations: hooks, choruses, verses, usually characterized by a catchy earworm melody and some sing-along vocals.
When I first saw the two simple descriptors on Joe Palumbo's Everyone Forever, 'pop' and 'North Carolina,' I thought to myself, "Okay, here we go. So more club-infused indie pop for me to try and say something nice about." Palumbo is taking serious liberties with the pop tag, as there is not a word let alone a sing-along hook on this collection of avant-blues guitar meditations.
Palumbo played in a lot of surf rock bands around NYC in the early 2000s before departing for the more idyllic environs of Central North Carolina. It is this dichotomy of New York City, at the vanguard of cutting-edge society with the more rural and traditional North Carolina countryside,that creates the fertile topsoil for this strange and beautiful album to spring forth.
Every track on Everyone Forever was conjured using only an electric guitar and a couple of pedals and laid to tape with a microphone. The end result lies somewhere between the blues, folk and new age music in a way that is indebted to the past, while looking towards the future.
Palumbo mentions the mighty Loren Mazzacane Connors in the press release for Everyone Forever and I would like to bring up the folk styles of John Fahey to add to the conversation, as these two are some of the only musicians to extend the vocabulary of the guitar to include both traditional styles and technology.
This is the folk music of the future - make no mistake - as Palumbo's playing seems rooted in the soil, while illustrating various dream states and sci-fi vistas. Take, for instance, on "Beekeeping," which sounds like one of Fahey's solo guitar explorations, but overlaid with zapping sci-fi lasers.
This combination of the traditional and the futuristic corrects some of the weaknesses inherent to each genre. Traditional folk can be dangerously nostalgic and offensively simplistic, glorifying people and their way of life without struggling to understand what they're going through or where they're coming from. And technology is great, unleashing nearly unlimited amounts of creativity and letting us spread it with people all over the globe, but it can too often be at the expense of hard work, care and dedication. It's too easy to draw in some squiggles, make some random noise and put it out five minutes later. You can do that, but no one will care, trust me.
Even people living in the country can dream of the future. Even people in the city have roots. Joe Palumbo makes music for both, and for neither, for a place that doesn't yet exist. Except in our imaginations.
Highly recommended! Killer stuff.
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