It seems even The Gap has finally tapped into the marketability of the east side, of the East River. In an effort to keep 70-dollar jeans moving out of doors throughout the country, the store is molding hipsters out of Gapsters with a new line of “Williamsburg” skinny cut jeans. Williamsburg: you are running out of time.
Of course, judging by the lot of frustration and bitterness boiling over the brim on their latest record, All Things, Forests (Misra), long time power pop outfit Palomar would probably argue that the incubator of the current New York alternative and avant rock scene met its’ match a while back. Tracks like “You’re Keeping Us Up”, “Top Banana”, and “Whoa!” play like the band’s salty salute to the lot of deep pocket bands and comb over industry types who flooded the scene over the years. When leading lady Rachel Warren confesses on “Bridge of Sighs”, “This town is a drag and we’re never coming back”, it is easy to see her desire to escape all things Brooklyn and flee the over saturated streets for a more isolated place. I suppose when the fertile soil of the Williamsburg music community is turned over too many times, and it loses its’ ability to bare fruit of value, it is time to look elsewhere.
Except it is records like All Things, Forests that give gigantic reasons to continue to believe in Williamsburg. Ironically, in spilling all their displeasure, Palomar have created their most compelling work to date. Aside from the sweet sounding sway of “Bury Me Closer” and the dainty “Surprise Us”, All Things, Forests is an exquisitely crafted collection of solid songwriting that wants nothing more than to rock the hell out. “Our Haunt” and “How to Beat Dementia” are so ripe with single worthy hooks that it is hard to imagine the band missing out on some of the same successes many of their peers have enjoyed.
In the end, Palomar, by their very existence, challenge the notion that Williamsburg is nothing more than a magnet for pretentiousness and commercial cool. The Gap may have their jeans. But they can’t have the neighborhood that made the current, independent rock scene worthwhile.
– David Pitz