The sound of an 80s prom in a war zone…located in the dead heart of country music, Nashville, TN.
That is the sound and spirit of Palm Ghosts, as far from the honky-tonks and pedal taverns of their adopted city as one can get. More at home in rainy Manchester or blustery Berlin, the quartet weaves early cinematic dream pop and new wave with brooding post punk.
Palm Ghosts has a long history, as Joe has carried the name since his Philly days when the project had an indie folk sound. But, it is the current iteration of the band that sounds more like a clap back to the sound for which Nashville is notorious. Embracing their 80’s idols, like New Order, The Cure, David Bowie, John Carpenter and even Divine, these Nashville transplants released 2018’s Architecture. With a steady stream of singles and EPs, the band has continued to write music that sums up the lot of their 80’s youth, but their most cohesive effort is now.
Like most bands in 2020 trying to stay sane, the band had to email ideas and tracks back & forth. Somehow that isolation fueled a new immediacy and energy in their songs that only a year of pandemic, protest and political turmoil could elicit. The fruits of that labor, Lifeboat Candidate, is a dark and dystopian effort, filled with confusion and dread, albeit with a bit of humor and hope. The album is a relentless statement, not giving a pause between tracks to breathe like the micro machines spokesman, yet as suave as Dean Stockwell in Blue Velvet.
Blind, the album opener, is about suspicion and paranoia standing in the way of truly seeing people, and consequently sounds like a comment thread of mired arguments over an underlying harmony. The frenzied Dead Inside is almost an extension of that theme, where the narrator is frozen in the space between self preservation and empathic change when becoming aware of a world bigger than their own, yet ultimately deciding to treat the epiphany as a con. Because we aren’t completely pessimistic, we thought you should also check out Carry the World, inspired by stories of family separation in scientology and the struggle against beliefs that make strangers of those closest to you. In the verses, one party pleads with the other to leave the belief and the chorus responds…favorably. See, we aren’t completely hopeless, but then this was before our city was bombed by a 5G conspiracy terrorist.
In 2021, we hope to scream and sing and dance in public again, but we will definitely be releasing a lot more music. We are relentless, with a lot left to say, but perhaps these people say it better:
Manchester’s Analogue Trash describes Palm Ghosts as “Achingly beautiful, fragile and majestic music. An intoxicating mix of Shoegaze and Dream pop, taking from the 80’s but not in debt to it”
South Africa’s Jangle Pop Hub has said the band has “An inimitable 80’s style dream pop that mixes the avaricious swirl of The Cocteau Twins, the atmospherics of The Cure and the grandiosity of Echo and The Bunnymen”
Palm Ghosts is:
Benjamin Douglas- Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Walt Epting- Drums, Percussion
Joseph Lekkas- Vocals, Bass, Keys
Jason Springman- Guitar, Vocals, Keys
Press for "Architecture"
“The commodified and codified 80s © are here to stay, from the fake consciousness pop culture nostalgia that dominates the virtual shopping aisles to recreated and reimagined movie memories that manipulate and skew the present. Saddled with the past, culture’s inertia offers up facsimile pap and zerox rock. However, hope exists, listen as true light continues to glisten, appearing through the cracks and haunting the NOW are Nashville’s Palm Ghosts.” – Music News UK
“Palm Ghosts offers a balanced blend of cinematic dream pop with dark indie, celebrating sounds from the most colorful of musical decades, the 1980s. The press material notes that Palm Ghosts sound like “Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance guest appearance with Alvvays”. I’d say that is a pretty accurate description, but would further draw parallels with French bands Phoenix and M83 – Palm Ghosts brings that same feel-good pop factor without any kitsch or repetitiveness that blur the lines between so many indie bands.” -Louder Than War
“A blend of gorgeously cinematic, dream pop meeting a more structured indie ethic of the sort that cool and imaginative left field musicians have been making from Cocteau twins to Alvvays and at every point in between. Throw in some wonderful vocal textures and an occasional wander into darker pop territory and you have an intriguing and beguiling proposition. The Crown and The Confidant in particular runs along the same mercurial commerciality that saw the likes of The Cure move from alternative, arty upstarts to arena favourites, The Hound takes more brooding ambient routes and Rhythm To Rage matches dance floor finesse with indie otherness.
A fantastic slice of all things that sit on the border of cultish and commercial, cool enough to appeal to the discerning tastes of the underground and hot enough to sell to the masses. Not only does that blend not come together very often, who’d have thought that you’d find it in the alt-country confines of East Nashville.” -Dancing About Architecture
“Nashville based Palm Ghosts have delivered their third album, Architecture. The nine tracks showcase the band’s own unique brand of dreampop and indie rock. Nashville is a songwriters town and any artist out of Nashville should rightly expect that a high standard be applied to their songcraft. This album stands out against such scrutiny with strength and style, as well as imaginative arrangements and interesting musical passages. Palm Ghosts show themselves to be a band with deep talent and a highly developed artistic sensibility. This album is an absolute must have.” -Floorshime Zipper Boots
“Tight in execution and filled with relevant ambiance, Nashville’s own Palm Ghosts deliver a solidly retro-modern album in the form of ‘Architecture’. designed with an electric style symphony of sound and a penchant for that left of center vibe that only comes with future masterpieces, Palm Ghosts give the masses an album rife with creativity and abound with aural astonishment. Bravo!” -Jammerzine
“Palm Ghosts have been around for around 5 years now and have a darkening goth/dream pop sound. They sound like they could be fronted by Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry such is Joseph Lekkas’ shadowy croon. Erica Whitney Wilkes provides a second vocal string adding a melodic counterpoint.
Backed by the rhythmic drive of bass and drums The Hound is lush and complex balancing the thrum of guitar with washed keyboards to conjure an epic and windswept vista. This is music of the darkening moors and portentous skies lit by flashes of spectral dreamwave.
From their album Architecture released on June 8th on Ice Queen Records, The Hound is a heady whirl of dream-haze gothic pop and the pick of the album. The influences are all there to be found, mainly 1980’s goth and coldwave bands from The Cure and Cocteau Twins to the art electronics of New Order and Peter Gabriel.
The Hound sounds ageless and evocative, an anthem for winter fire.” – Get Into This UK
“You sink joyfully into their simply rousing melodies, let yourself fall because you know you are caught, carried by an intelligent community. You feel transported back into the distant adventures of the screen heroes in a dream of greatness and justice. Sounds that are not so much 3AM pop, but rather driving keyboards and accentuated bass playing, with indie-pop glitter and the ups and downs of their complementary voices and lively moods, with crisp electronics and engaging romance from New Wave times.
If the world would end with Who Knew Me Better Than You, it wouldn’t matter and it would be wonderful in a surreal way. So this is rather a brand-new trip into the afterlife, dream gliding and unstoppable.” –guteshoerenistwichtig
“Ridley Scott trained as a set designer, Edward Hopper painted a whole series of esoteric buildings, Roger Waters and Nick Mason used their undergraduate studies in architectural design to build the seismic masterpiece Dark Side of The Moon. There’s something about architecture that inspires the artistic muse; simply look at Palm Ghosts newest work.
Sadness and happiness, just like a piece of architecture. It’s a fitting metaphor for vocalist/bassist Joseph Lekkas, who sketched song ideas in May 2017 on paper, rehearsed the songs with the remaining four Nashville based band members, found a interlink between the masculine and feminine facets (the male / female co-lead vocals throughout), musically raising the records with the caged drum sounds and keyboard/guitar duets of the New Wave records of The Cure, XTC and Peter Gabriel. Forward thinking, aware, stately and balanced – sounds like a piece of architecture to me alright!
Now, however pretentious that writerly metaphor is, Architecture is a corking synth rock album, with some arresting drumming and fine bass work from Lekkas (he plays the lead fills with the seduction and meticulousness of John Deacon and Peter Hook). The Crown and The Confidantand Rhythm to Rage are bright and buoyant, rhythmic and riff centred, the guitar licks are sprightly played by Benjamin Jason Douglas and Jason Springman. Red Horizon opens with a crackling electronic pulse, leading to a fast paced rock track that’s strangely danceable. If you’re a sucker to the delightful eighties soundscapes of eighties greats HeartBeat City (The Cars) and How Old Are You? (Robin Gibb), then Love In Winter is a particularly potent go-to track, a swampy intro played with zeitgeist zest and zip.
Lekkas has an ear for synth pop as The Hound demonstrates. A Cinematic Dream Pop tale of American dreams dying, this is an air of highways flying down the road, a rocker in the Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty school, but complete with 4AD dream synths and REM jangles. Who Knew Me Better Than You?, while a little watery in production, has that driving rock energy of seventies New Wave, sure to be a live favourite. A Lover’s Quarrel is the most contemporaneous, hip-hop drums and reverb mikes makes this a Danger Mouse/Damon Albarn type classic (it’s the best track on the album too!). Erica Whitney Wilkes sings with art pop ballast, rock heavy and hard hitting, but safe and sanguine too – they make a fine vocal pair!
It’s the building blocks to success and Architecture may have a title that would wet the lips of an academic, but it also has the rock sound of a great new wave band, bringing guitars and keyboards in an esoteric and exciting fashion.” -We Are Cult
“Music cannot exist in the soul unless it has a meaning, it must be a symbol, even a design to it that makes it stand out, that makes it impressive, no matter the form, no matter the immensity, if it has no plan, if it is written just for the sake of making a noise, creating a jumbled chaos that makes more of a statement about the artist, then there is surely no foundation, no Architecture in place that can make the blueprint that was poured over, worth a damn.
In tracks such as The Hound, Cortisol, Who Knew Me Better Than You, A Lover’s Quarrel and Red Horizon, Joseph Lekkas, Erica Whitney Wilkes, Benjamin Jason Douglas, Jason Springman and Rene Lambert, the combination of the feminine and the masculine introspection is as one, the same cry for help, for love, for a reason, is to be heard and in that softness a sense of the desperation abated can be maintained.
An Architect’s dream, a firm footing in which this new project can get underway, resilient and unyielding, this is the kind of musical building that fits in with its surroundings and stands out because it is born of symbolism; affirming and pleasing, Architecture is a new hope made real.” – Liverpool Sound and Vision
Press for 'Turn The Knife'
“Nashville dream pop designers PALM GHOSTS keep on shining. Only last June the group released their third, marvelous album Architecture, last month they launched new, fully-hearted single The Golden Age and now here’s another knockout. TURN THE KNIFE is a mesmerizing make or break love song that grabs your sonic attention instantly. Build again around a stellar melody, escorted by delicate layers of sparkling guitars, and elevated by the enrapturing effect of the rad duet vocals of Erica Whitney Wilkes and singer/songwriter Joseph Lekkas this special team turns up once more with something truly amazing. Feverish guitar pop at its very best. Catch the new terrific mixed emotions pearl right here…” –Turn Up The Volume
“Turn the Knife is a hook-driven bit of 80s post-punk that will recall New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and others but centered by the two part male/female harmonies, angular guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a bitter sense of betrayal and distrust.” – The Joy of Violent Movement
“Turn The Knife is the latest single from Nashville’s Palm Ghosts, and it’s beautiful. The dual male and female vocals set the tone for the track – very reminiscent of Johnny Cash/June Carter era, but set over an indie rock track. Musically, it’s super wide screen stadium indie. Hooky guitar melodies back by a solid and passionate rhythm section which back up the dual vocal feel beautifully.” -HYPE HYPE
Press for "Who Knew Me Better Than You?"
“Influenced by Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure and Dead Can Dance, Palm Ghosts’ new single’s groovy and psychedelic-like guitar lines set the song on an incredible cinematic soundscape with the help of dreamy instrumentals and a melodic beat.” –IndieCentral Music
“Nashville’s murky indie rock quintet Palm Ghosts dip their toes into cinematic soundscaping with their latest track, “Who Knew Me Better Than You.” Meandering guitar lines set the song up for success, combined with the brooding fervor of Joseph Lekkas and Erica Whitney Wilkes’ vocal duet. Despite its sunny instrumentals, the track takes on a bit of a melancholy tone, stirring up the deep introspection Palm Ghosts is famous for. This single is the precursor to the band’s upcoming third album, Architecture, promising more electronic ambience and some 80s rock flare.” – buffaBLOG
“Who knew me better than you” was the first song written for the new Palm Ghosts record “Architecture”, out June 8th on Ice Queen Records. It signaled a change for the band from the electro-laced dream pop of former singles to more darker post punk leanings, a la The Cure and early Dead Can Dance.” – Northern Transmissions
“Joseph Lekkas is the brains behind Palm Ghosts. With his song “Who Knew Me Better Than You?” he effortlessly pulls off an indie classic as we used to only hear in years gone by. We immediately remember The Shins or the Shout Out Louds.”- We Love That Sound
“The laidback indie-goth tone of this track shines outside the norm. The mix of both of the lead vocals adds a unique aspect to the track that allows it to stand out.” – Highlight Magazine
Press for "Love In Winter"
“What a sound! This is what dream pop at its best should sound like.” – Audiofuzz
“The thrumming synthesizer, driving percussion, baritone male vocals, and strong female vocals will pull anyone back into warm, excellent nostalgia for the ’80s. The jubilant chorus melody is just great.” -Independent Clauses
“This is the perfect winter track. The cold but bright sound harkens a brisk winter morning while the melancholy vocals refresh the soul like the perfectly placed holiday. The five piece indie-alt act from Nashville will remind many of The National, while mixing in a more ‘80’s based aesthetic on their latest single. The result is something special and one hell of a love song. As they prep a full album, which this will be a part of, we hold our collective breath for more tunes like this.” – Ear To The Ground
“This track is deep. Deep in it’s almost 80’s synth heart and swimming in emotions. I love the aesthetic here, love the boy/ girl vox.” – American Pancake
“Love In Winter is the new single from Nashville based Palm Ghosts. The track is stylish dream pop, with plenty of twangy guitar lines, interesting synth pads and a nice doubled male/female vocal. The song has a Duran Duran type of instrumental vibe and the whole thing makes you move. Good individual tracks are nice for what they are, but always leave us wanting to hear a proper EP or album and we’d surely like to have more from Palm Ghosts.” – Floorshime Zipper Boots
Press For "Greenland"
“I love this album. The music has that Americana sound to it, processed through an urban yet deserted existence. There is an innate sadness to the album peppered with a sense of hope, slight though it may be. This is great music for early evening or dawn when you feel a little blue and like that feeling.” – Audio Fuzz
“Dawes-esque Americana meets REM-style ’90s guitar-rock jangle in the sonic equivalent of a well-worn, trusty jacket. You may not have heard this song before, but it will feel familiar and great as soon as you do.” – Independent Clauses
“East Nashville Americana project headed by Philadelphia native Joseph Lekkas drops its latest album, which calls upon the jangle of R.E.M., the limpid folk of Simon & Garfunkel and lots of country- and folk-rock touchstones.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Palm Ghosts is a creamy rock project influenced significantly by Americana. ’70s brit-blues and ’60s beat permeate the soundscape delivering music in which the listener can delightedly lose all track of time. From the most recent LP –Greenland (available on bandcamp) – the third of the fifteen, Audra, is my pick of the release.” –Emerging Indie
Press for "Palm Ghosts s/t"
“Elegant and Sweeping Pop” – WXPN’s The Key
“Folk loves its sadness, but this beautiful song is warm nostalgia in song form. It is hard to put together an album that holds a consistent instrumental palette, melodic thrust, and overall mood without getting repetitive. Palm Ghosts has accomplished this difficult task on their self-titled record. Palm Ghosts lives in a warm, relaxed space with just a touch of ominous haze on the horizon, carving out a space for itself next to artists like Damien Jurado.” – Independent Clauses
“A balance of singer/songwriter styled pop that walks along the indie rock border and comes together with a more traditional country base and carries you over a dusty trail rhythm, this is truly a combination that the Philadelphia based group can call their own.” – One Stop Country
“Some of the music I listened to on this album transported me to a feeling of peace, relaxation, comfort – like everything was going to be okay. So, I hope whatever you’re going through, you take the time to enjoy music, because that’s what really gets me through the tough times.” – Spec Blog
“Singer-songwriter Joseph Lekkas demonstrates that Americana music can sprout and bloom anywhere, including Philadelphia.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Palm Ghosts is the new band/project created by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Joseph Lekkas who was previously in the band Grammar Debate. After that band dissolved Lekkas took some time off from the world of music…only to realize a few years later that creating music was “...necessary to beat his anxieties.” Thus, the band now serves two purposes. To beat the anxieties of the musician…and to relieve anxieties in the minds of those who hear it. Recorded in an old warehouse during an intensely cold winter, this self-titled album presents intelligent songs that are inspired and real. These tunes remind us somewhat of Starflyer 59 except the overall feel is somewhat more folky and reserved. Lekkas has a great voice and a real knack for knowing how to put the pieces together. These tracks are resilient, personal, and reflective. Our favorite cuts include “Dr. Tiger,” “Airplane Jane,” “I Know You Won’t Break My Heart,” and “All My Life (I’ve Been Waiting.).” – Baby Sue