Geoff Palmer - 'Pulling Out All The Stops' Album Review
(Rum Bar Records/ Stardumb Records)
1. This One’s Gonna Be Hot
3. I Like Murder Too
4. Giving In
5. Got The Skinny
6. We Can’t Do It
7. Everything Is Cool
8. All The Hits
9. Velcro Shoes
10. Walk Through
11. Paper Heart
14. Make It
15. Punker Than Me
16. That’s What You Do
See that Rum Bar Records tag after the album title, that should be your first reason for grabbing this album as it is synonymous with high quality. That said, Geoff Palmer has released a tremendous album of Power Pop goodness that is dripping with hooks, both musical and vocal. Palmer plays guitar in the equally brilliant band The Connection as well so this rabbit hole you are entering if you are not familiar with his work may take a little time (and money), but you will be richly rewarded. Palmer has been in and recorded with many bands and artists over the past couple decades. Let’s get back to this album though and why it may be the best Power Pop album you will hear this year.
Palmer brings in extra crunch when needed for this album and balances it with great vocal melodies that just stick to the listener like a glue trap to a shoe. There is no getting away from them. The two minute burst that gets the album started tells us ‘This One’s Gonna Be Hot,’ and that initial guitar riff buries a hook into the listener on impact. The vocals feel like one long hook quite honestly in the same way that the early Ramones songs were one big singalong. Lyrically, this one is lighthearted as Palmer tells us all about the party taking place. ‘Cha-Ching’ flexes some musical muscle but again pairs it with a killer chorus that features some great vocal interplay. It’s another two minute monster that needs to be played all summer long. Acoustic guitar introduces us to the ode to new romance that is of course titled ‘I Like Murder Too.’ This one has more time to flourish with its three minute running time including some nice layered vocals. Rounding out the first quartet of songs is the Paul Westerberg influenced ‘Giving In’ and quite honestly this song should be one of the most played songs on the radio right now.
‘Got The Skinny’ channels the commercial side of the Dwarves and the Queers as the song incorporates an addictive beat and some crunchy guitars with a sneering vocal and a ridiculously catchy chorus featuring the refrain ‘Oh well, she can go to hell.’ Things then slow down with the acoustic intro of ‘We Can’t Do It’ which unloads into a locomotive train with a simple lyrical refrain. The song is over before you know it though with the band hitting perfection in less than two minutes. ‘Everything is Cool’ reminds me in some ways of the Beach Boys by way of the Ramones with an extra side of snottiness. ‘All The Hits’ closes Side A with another instant winner where Palmer bemoans going to see bands that break out acoustic guitars, rarely played album songs, and long narratives. It’s like one of those Dwarves’ songs where they channel every commercial sensibility they have to create a friendly commercial Pop Punk piece of musical manna that reveals its venom in the lyrics. I am not sure what the number of views of the video are on YouTube now, but I am probably responsible for half of them in the past week or two.
‘Velcro Shoes’ continues the party to start Side 2. Any fans of Ryan Hamilton should also flock to this album as these songs pack amazing choruses like this one where I can sadly sing along about getting fat and getting old but somehow do it with a smile on my face. ‘Walk Through’ again takes a bit more time at nearly three minutes to create a Power Pop classic with a message of hope and perseverance. Write the lyrics down on a piece of paper, and you will have an incredible mantra for the times when life just throws constant crap at you. ‘Paper Heart’ reminds me more musically of the Ronettes filtered through with some Pop Punk. The guitar riffs pop out of the speaker in the perfect moments with the chorus being a bit more of a grower than some of the others here which has really helped with the depth of the album as a whole with all of the listeners I have already given it. Cranking up the oomph for ‘Donut’ gives it some more teeth, but this is still a huge slab of melody.
As we near the end of the album, ‘Speed’ unleashes a great hook with the guitar riff being as hooky as barbed wire. The opening piano notes of ‘Make It’ immediately make an impact as being different from everything else here. The song then takes off with the rest of the instruments and serves up a flawless nugget with multiple vocal hooks throughout it. It contrasts great with ‘Punker Than Me’ where we once again are reminded me of the likes of the Queers and Descendants. Acoustic guitars take center stage for closer ‘That’s What You Do.’ Ironically, it is the last song that has not really grabbed me yet. I cannot tell yet if that is more fatigue from the previous 15 songs or if it is just not connecting with me.
This album will likely be one of my most played records of the year and years to come for that matter. There is an honesty and sincerity to it that cannot really be conveyed by words. Palmer has assembled a collection of songs that play off one another to not only make a cohesive album but almost like a greatest hits record as well where the hooks are relentless. Not that you need another reason to get this album, but I will also add that the digital version of this album is extremely price friendly over on bandcamp.
‘Pulling Out All the Stops’ is available now.
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Bandcamp - https://geoffpalmer.bandcamp.com/
Review - Gerald Stansbury