Palisades: Bellingham’s golden boys

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Over the last couple years, Palisades has been generating some buzz around them as a must-see live band. The group, which consists of four members, has been playing shows all down the I-5 corridor, from Bellingham to Portland and has been featured on the Stranger’s music blog as well as countless other online and print publications.

Part of their appeal is the grassroots, frenzied house show regimen that they have kept up, as well as the release of three EP recordings. Palisades will be upping the EP count with their newest release Mr. S’s Memory, which will come out via Bandcamp this month.

Peter Coward, bassist for the band, said they eventually plan on releasing a full-length album.

“It is definitely a dream of ours,” Coward said. “But, we are all really perfectionists when it comes to our recordings.”

The new EP is the first release from the band since the EP Map Distance/ Ground Distance came out in August of 2011. When considering that their newest EP is five songs and clocks in at only 17 minutes, it becomes quite apparent that they are indeed perfectionists, and the addition of a new band member didn’t help either.

The band consists of Coward on bass, Luke Hogfoss on guitar and vocals, Noah Magen on drums, and new member Toby Reif also on guitar and vocals.

Hogfoss said that the addition of Reif really changed the dynamic of the band and it took a while for them to settle in together and start recording again.

“Every time we have played live with Toby, we have been told that we sound different now,” Hogfoss said. “I think we still have the same sound, but it just sounds fuller and more dynamic. But, no one has said we sound any worse, so that’s a good thing, I guess.”

The sound of the band is a tough one to describe. It was equal parts dreamy, reverb-heavy, and somewhat surf-ish, art pop; and raucous, driving post-punk in the vein of Fugazi and Joy Division.

The addition of Reif in the band has also brought a more professional demeanor to the band’s practice and recording sessions, according to Hogfoss, Coward and Magen.

“Toby definitely brings a more mature, sophisticated attitude towards the band,” Coward said. “Usually, when we practice, we’d just come up with a song and play it, but Toby really likes to dissect songs and break them down and change them.”

All of the band members live together on a house on Ellis Street, which immerses them in the music, Magen said.

“It’s like, I can hear Luke playing something by himself, and then I’ll jump in and start playing along with him, and then we have a song or at least an idea for one,” Coward said. “It’s like the opportunity to create is always present.”

The new EP was recorded in the basement of Andrew Nickerson, who is perhaps known these days as the front man and guitarist for “Uh-Oh,” one of the great new-ish bands in the Bellingham scene. Nickerson’s basement on F Street is located right next door to a house where Death Cab For Cutie recorded their album, Coward said.

“We got to play a show at that house before,” Coward said. “We watched this documentary about Death cab where they said it was the best sounding living room they’d ever played in, and I would totally agree with that. The place just sounded awesome. We ended up recording right next door shortly after the show, so we always joke about being next to that house. I mean, if there is any big band to look up to in Bellingham, it is probably Death Cab.”

The album was mastered by Reif, who also happened to record the Palisades’ very first recording way back in 2010.

“It is funny having one of our band mates mastering the album,” Coward said. “Usually, you just let someone else do it, and then you listen to it and decide whether you like it or not. But, because Toby is so invested in it, he masters and re-masters it constantly. It’s like a 24-hour-a-day thing for him.”

The band has yet to announce an official record release show, but will be playing at the Shakedown on Jan. 18 with Kithkin and Specters. The EP will be available for free download at thepalisades.bandcamp.com, and there will be physical copies on cd available at the show, according to the band.

“We always give away our music for free,” Hogfoss said. “When considering all the illegal music I download, it just seems like good karma to have our music be free. But, it is nice when people give us money for it. It is pretty awesome to get paid.”

Check out thepalisades.bandcamp.com or follow them at facebook.com/PLSDS and see them live at the What’s Up! Awards Show on Jan. 26 at the Wild Buffalo.