Kendall’s genre-bending, postpunk shoegazers Palomino Blond tore onto the scene in 2018 as one of the emerging music hotbed’s hardest-working and most laser-focused upstarts.
But not even a lauded debut demo, a reaffirming vinyl split EP release with fellow locals Las Nubes, or being hailed as one of Miami’s best new bands in 2019 could safeguard the four-piece from the devastating blow the coronavirus pandemic dealt the music industry in 2020.
“We had all this momentum built up that literally exploded upon a brick wall,” says guitarist and vocalist Kyle Fink.
Nearly a year after touring ground to a halt (the band had recently graduated from local gigs to regional, out-of-state tours), Palomino Blond dropped its Midheaven EP in early November, with an accompanying live video recording. The gritty four-track session was recorded from guitarist/vocalist Carli Acosta's home and originally aired as part of the Fest That Never Was, a virtual version of the annual Gainesville music event the Fest.
“We never intended it to be released as an EP, but we had this audio from that stream we did for Fest that we just thought so highly of, so we thought why not shake it up and just put it out there,” Fink says, adding that Midheaven is “like a cute little teaser trailer for what we have planned for the coming year.”
Mixed by Jonathan Nuñez (with whom the band is currently working on its upcoming record) and mastered by Cody Engstrom at the Guild Live, Midheaven includes three previously recorded tracks plus a new song, "Lovely," which will appear on the band’s upcoming studio record.
In addition to the Fest That Never Was, Palomino Blond played the Underground Halloween Bash, a livestreamed event at Electric Air Studios that served as a fundraiser for Camillus House.
“Just like everyone else, we've adapted to the way things are now,” Acosta says.
Still, Acosta concedes that the pandemic has been a massive blow for a once-constantly gigging band just hitting its stride.
In February, Palomino Blond was finishing up its first full-length record and had begun pitching it to labels when the first whispers of the virus began sweeping the U.S. When COVID started to disrupt everyday life across, it really hit home how “the future is so uncertain and, sometimes, the world is going to throw the randomest of wrenches at us,” Acosta says.
For the sake of both their mental health and the quality of the music, the group has adjusted by taking things at a “more realistic” pace, spending time with family, exercising, and playing video games to blow off steam when they’re not making music.
Aside from the pandemic, Palomino Blond has also had to contend with a major shift in its lineup. Though founding members Fink and Acosta remain core to the group, original drummer Jake Karner and bassist Raven Neto both left Palomino Blond in the last year over “personal reasons” and to pursue other paths.
“We really didn't want to lose steam when that happened,” Acosta explains.
Acosta and Fink forged ahead, tapping Acosta's cousin, multi-instrumentalist Michael Arevalo, to play drums, with Peter Allen stepping in for bass.
Since they had all played together a few times before, “there was already a sense of familiarity and chemistry there right from the get-go,” Fink assures.
The changeup signals the beginning of a new direction for the band that Fink says he and Acosta have been waiting for.
“It was really bittersweet,” he says, “but we embraced the change, and after two-and-a-half years of being a band, I think we’ve found our strongest stride yet.”
The year 2021 seems ripe for a long-awaited full-length debut from one of the city’s most promising young rock acts.
“I think our fans are definitely craving a release, and their response to the live streams and Midheaven reflect that,” Acosta adds.
As the group hammers away at recording the new studio album, Acosta admits she has yet to give touring much thought and is just “trying to navigate the present as well and attentively as I can.”
Hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine will become readily available in the latter half of 2021, Palomino Blond is optimistic.
“The vibe right now is refreshed and excited — we spent the summer honing the new songs, and our sound has never been this tight,” Fink says. “I think a lot of things we took for granted about pre-COVID life are gonna be new and exciting again, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what that looks like.”
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