On the radar: Palace

Artfully airy indie heirs feeling Fahey

On first listen to London group Palace’s debut album, So Long Forever, you might clock the airy influence of label-mates The Maccabees, the crisp clarity of Jeff Buckley or the hypnotic quality of My Morning Jacket – you may not, however, notice the nice thick slab of Thin Lizzy…

I’m constantly harping on about John Fahey to the band and trying to get everyone into him

“It sounds ridiculous,” acknowledges frontman Leo Wyndham of his unlikely inspiration. “When we were younger me and [co-guitarist] Ru were in to quite rocky [twin-guitar] stuff. One day we decided to sneak it in and see how it fitted with our sound and it really works. Those weaving parts, they’re kind of integral to the sound.”

Stranger tunings

You can hear the harmony approach at play on early EP track, Ocean Deep, while elsewhere the duo channel acoustic influences in their inter-locked melodies and unusual tunings.

“Basically all of our songs are in strange tunings, John Fahey-style,” explains Leo, citing the US fingerstyle wizard as a major influence. “I’m constantly harping on about him to the band and trying to get everyone into him. Then John Martyn with his amazing style, it’s something that Rupert and I have taken on and nicked – that noodly, riffy style.”

It’s not easy to get this sort of painstaking, entangled guitar playing to work in an electric setting, but Ru and Leo have two tricks up their sleeves: the first is a long friendship and playing history, the second is a knack for a glassy, crystalline tone that lets each layer rise and fall in its own space. 

“I use a Fender Deluxe and a Tele and Ru uses a DeVille and Hondo Paul Dean,” explains Ru. “But the key thing to our sound is that we both use Holy Grail pedals. Once we found those we were set.”

“It’s kind of minimal, really,” concludes Leo. “We’re always quite careful to keep it quite true and traditional to the guitar playing. It’s us doing all the work, rather than the effects pedals!”

(Image: © James Pearson Howes)
  • For fans of: My Morning Jacket, The Maccabees
  • Hear: Bitter
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