Soft Palms – S/T [Color Vinyl] – New LP
“My goal was to create something that sounded like a mental hug, a sonic embrace,” says Julia Kugel (The Coathangers/White Woods) about the self-titled debut album by Long Beach duo Soft Palms. “Everything can feel so wild and out of control, we really wanted to create something you could sink into and use to calm those emotions.” To achieve this goal, Kugel and her husband and partner Scott Montoya threaded together sock hop rock n’ roll, scrappy dream pop, and ethereal torch songs into a sublime journey towards brighter horizons. Though the album’s eight songs were written in fits and starts over the course of nearly a decade, Soft Palms ultimately came together over a two-year period as an extension of Kugel and Montoya’s broader musical ventures. Together they book the Happy Sundays music festival, run the non-profit Studios for Schools, and organize the events calendar Long Beach POP—all in an effort to celebrate, promote, and produce art and music through community and positivity. In the moments when the wife-and-husband team aren’t elevating and empowering other artists, they’ve channeled their passion into Soft Palms. Album opener “Baddy” sets the tone for the album by laying down a simple guitar line with a grandiose vocal melody run through Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound production. The vibe continues through “Rainbow” where Kugel’s lilting voice floats against a backdrop of hypnotic upbeat instrumentation and Montoya’s dubbed out studio effects. The album continues to be a feast of rich sounds and simple, comforting melodies—from the heavenly country waltz and cosmic slide guitar on “Oh Then Then” to the gentle fingerpicked guitar and string swells of the closing ballad “Not Love.” The entire album gives off an aura of intimacy while also creating a broader, pastel colored world—a duality achieved through Montoya's unique and meticulous recording process at the couple’s home studio the Centre Of Mental Arts (COMA). But more than anything, Soft Palms captures Kugel and Montoya’s unflappable positivity and energy and serves as yet another outlet for their ongoing work to make the world a bit brighter.