Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's a misinterpretation of their name, but you can choose to hear it as an attempt at describing a superficial landscape. It's as if Bay area cousins Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme, of the duo Painted Palms, meant to portray something on the MGM Studios backlot or a rolling screen of scenery behind a moving car in an old movie - something fabricated, something that's there, but not really. The palm trees and the illusion of tropical times are just that - something to blow a kiss and a phony wave at, something to miss, without ever having been near them. Go into any gift shop in any of the Caribbean islands, California or Florida and you'll find tee-shirts bearing the name of the city, state or country that you're in, leaning against a sunset and an idyllic pair of palms, leaving you to sigh and wistfully dream of your time in said place whenever you're elsewhere. The palms are a symbol and a sign of the leisure and a vacationing life. Prudhomme and Donohue couldn't have been thinking along those lines when they were drumming up ideas for a moniker. They couldn't have been longing for these places they've never been, or been away from for so long that the thought of the trees made them drool, or yearn. They couldn't have needed even something like some fake trees, or sick ones that were spray-painted a healthier green to seem less lethargic and depressing. They seem to have the feelings of the warm coast solidified, buried deep within their veins and it doesn't sound as if it's ever been a worry. They deal with real palm trees and oceanic scenery that will send you into beautiful, panoramic cardiac arrest. They swim in the sorts of imagery that is the bedrock for the kinds of things that people can cite when they want to explain why an old man, or a not so old man, died happy. It could be that the old man was surrounded by every loving member of his family - those that he brought into the world and those he was soon to be leaving behind to fend for themselves - or it could just be that he was thinking about how the sand of a particular day, on a particular beach, in a particular year felt on the bottoms of his feet. He's remembering the air's sweet chill and the ravishing young girl who would wind up being his wife some short time later and he is feeling like he had it all, wrapped right up in that one crystalline moment. Painted Palms songs remind us about the easiness of getting "tangled up and dreaming," of being filled with simple, inspired emotion. They remind us that there's no goddamn time to sleep. There's just too much to do and feel and see before we're lowered into the ground.
Painted Palms Official Site
Secretly Canadian Records