Toronto’s Century Palm have announced their debut LP, ‘Meet You,’ and have also premiered the album’s first single, King of John St. Recalling acts like Psychedelic Furs, New Order and Gary Numan’s early work with Tubeway Army, the track introduces the more pop-oriented side of the band’s synth-inflected post-punk, constructing a wall of electronic textures around vocalist/bassist Paul Lawton’s melancholic reflections on traversing one of the Toronto’s more charmless corridors shortly after moving to the city. Take a listen to King of John St via YouTube below.
As Lawton says, “‘King of John Street’ is about moving to the city only to be surrounded by sacred giants – buildings, people, ideas, history – and struggling with the realization that individuality does not count for much. After moving to Toronto from a smaller music scene in Alberta, I walked up and down John Street every day for a couple years, under the CN tower, feeling completely isolated and anonymous, and kind of giving up on myself for a bit. This song is about trying to shake out of a very specific kind of rut in a big city, and coming to terms with how small you are in comparison.”
More about Century Palm? Century Palm was initially formed by vocalist/guitarist Andrew Payne in 2014 following the dissolution of Ketamines, a cult favourite garage-pop band founded by Lawton that featured 3/4ths of the eventual members of Century Palm (Lawton, Payne, Penny Clark & Jesse Locke) in one or other of its various iterations. Comprised of long time fixtures of the Vancouver and Calgary music scenes, with members playing in bands like Tough Age, Zebrassieres and Dirty Beaches, the group reconnected in Toronto after independently relocating to the city, and quickly began to capture the interest of local audiences, appearing on bills with bands from the thriving local post-punk scene like Casper Skulls, Fake Palms and Vallens, and touring acts like Nap Eyes and Ultimate Painting.
Following a self-released cassette EP and a pair of early singles the band attracted the attention of Deranged Records (White Lung, Tenement, Pleasure Leftists et al), who released the band’s ‘Valley Cyan’ 7 inch in late 2015, and then set to work on an LP for the label in sessions that would eventually become ‘Meet You’. It was recorded over approximately 6 months, with Lawton acting as engineer, before being mixed by Vancouver musician Jay Arner and mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control, and according to Payne, the band workshopped the songs relentlessly, cycling through different arrangements and feels without a clear notion of a fixed end point.
“We wanted to take our time on it and we did a lot of experimenting,” he says, “it was very open-ended, and we re-tracked some of the songs multiple times, which I think is an element of our process that had a really positive impact on the end result.”
The album reflects the time spent, engaging with a wide range of compositional concepts and sonic ideas while remaining anchored by a clearly realized aesthetic, exploring, over its ten tracks, the driving rhythms of Krautrock acts like NEU! and Can, the expansive guitar work of Televisions and Wire, and lighting on the nostalgia-tinged New Wave of Psychedelic Furs and OMD, as filtered through the foreboding atmospherics of Gary Numan and Siouxie & The Banshees.
Payne describes the record as being about “getting to know another layer of yourself,” and says that it in part concerns his return to playing in a band after becoming disenchanted with making music.
“The album is about the subtle tones of despair that arise just from existing: the loss of friends, relationships, your past self, and the difference between what you wish you were doing and what you are doing,” he says. “You think you know yourself but as you get older you realize more and more what you are really like and what you really want to do. In my relationship to making music I think I stopped doing it because I was trying to be a grown up. There’s almost this pressure as you get older that making art is somehow childish, and this band and this record was the byproduct of me realizing in my own life that that is not the case. In a sense the album is, both thematically and by existing at all, a repudiation of that idea.”
1. Reset Reaction
2. Trapped Here
3. Then You’re Gone
4. These Walls
5. Sick of It
6. New Creation
7. Walk Forever Blind
8. King of John St
9. Another You
Check them out on tour across Canada in support of the album.
03/02 Toronto, On @ The Monarch Tavern
03/03 Montreal, QC @ Turbohaus
03/04 Ottawa, On @ House of Targ
03/09 Sudbury, On @ The Tennis Dome
03/10 Thunder Bay, On @ The Apollo
03/11 Winnipeg, MB @ The Handsome Daughter
03/14 Lethbridge, AB @ The Owl
03/15 Nelson, BC @ The Royal
03/16 Abbotsford, BC @ Carpark Manor
03/18 Vancouver, BC @ Astoria
03/19 Victoria, BC @ The Copper Owl
03/22 Edmonton, AB @ The Buckingham
03/23 Calgary, AB @ The Palomino
03/24 Regina, SK @ O’Hanlons
03/25 Saskatooon, SK @ Vangelis
03/30 Peterborough, ON @ The Spill
03/31 Toronto, ON @ The Monarch