Led by singer/songwriter, producer and Ice Queen Records founder Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins to when Lekkas resided in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing, recording and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area.
Lekkas initially started Palm Ghosts as a solo recording project — and as a creative outlet to cope with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety. During a long Northeastern winter, he recorded a batch of introspective songs that at the time, he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the project’s full-length debut. After a short tour in 2013 to support the album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene.
Palm Ghosts’ third album, 2018’s Architecture was a bit of a change in sonic direction for the project with Lekkas writing material influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order, The Cure, and others. A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about the Nashville-based Lekkas, but as it turns out the JOVM mainstay has been busy. Much like countless acts across the world last year, the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, political and financial turmoil and protest fueled an immediacy and energy in the songs Lekkas and company had been writing.
The band’s fourth album, Lifeboat Candidate was written and recorded remotely with the individual bandmembers emailing song ideas, instrumental parts, lyrics and melodies back and forth. Slated for a March 19, 2021 release, Lifeboat Candidate is a fittingly dark and dystopian effort, full of confusion, fear and dread — but with a bit of humor and hope. Interestingly, Lifeboat Candidate‘s first single “Blind,” was the one of the first songs written and recorded last summer. Centered around tribal drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios and slashing guitars, “Blind” is one part Peter Gabriel 3 and Security-era Peter Gabriel, one part Joy Division and one part Gang of Four. It’s an uneasy and tense song that’s about the suspicion and paranoia that stand in the way of truly and honestly seeing people that seems all too suited for the age of QAnon, NewsMax and OAN.
The recently released video for “Blind” is a paranoid and uneasy fever dream using rapidly flashing collage artwork that evokes a dystopian hellscape in flames. Does it feel familiar, yet?