Palomar are one of those bands I can't believe I haven't written about yet! I absolutely love this band. They are a 4 piece from Brooklyn, and in my opinion they should have achieved more acclaim by this point. They write incredibly catchy yet bitingly smart songs. Rachel handles most of the lead vocals, though on occasion Christina takes over and on one song all 4 members switch off on lead. There are a lot of backing vocals, some call and response, some harmonies - all of this helps them to stand out a bit from other bands mining similar territory.
Another interesting thing is their evolution. The first record (which was incredibly difficult to find but can now be downloaded via their myspace page) was a good introduction with snarky and witty pop songs but the songs weren't as catchy as they were capable of writing. Rachel's singing voice has changed quite a bit over the years. This is definitely the least accessible record of theirs partially due to the vocals - an acquired taste sort of thing.
The second record finds them hitting the jackpot of melody, attitude, and fun! Probably one of the most all out fun records I own. It was incredibly difficult for me to pick just one song to post but the song I'm posting wins for this lyric - "I used to go to the punk shows, they're not like they used to be, no, they're different, and they're not getting better, no" - I think that the lyric sums up the attitude of the record. Musically it sounds similar to their first but a bit more polished and thought out - fast paced guitar driven pop that edges towards punk. The vocal take is similar to the first as well, but they are dialed back a bit. That being said, I have friends who still couldn't stand the vocals on this record. This is the last record with the rhythm section of Matt and Sasha.
Their third record was the biggest leap. All polished up, no abrasive vocals, more mature songwriting themes lyrically, and with the addition of Sarah and Dale in the rhythm section a much more solid (and much less ramshackle) base for the songs. (I love the second record and definitely am not knocking Matt and Sasha! It's just a noticeable difference.) All of this was announced immediately from the first song on the record.
I think that this record is their most solid - every song on this record is great. Their harmonies sound the best they've ever sounded and Christina's songs are just as good as Rachel's. I know I talk about this a lot but I'm most impressed when a bands sound evolves. Most bands are happy to stay in the rut of what works. This record proved that Palomar was not that band.
Their most recent record continued on in the mature vein. Lyrically it's the most mature thing they've ever done. For me though, the second and third records are Palomar at their best. I'm curious to see if they make another record - there's been some grown up stuff going on in their lives so I'm not sure how the band fits anymore. I'm certainly crossing my fingers though!