Fist & Palm

by Bellows

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about

"Fist & Palm", the third full-length album by Bellows, documents the dissolving of a friendship. The album's narrative trajectory is an anti-narrative, beginning and ending in the same place: in the backyard of a shared house, on the night of a petty argument. The circularity of the album's timeline underlines an overarching theme of the record -- the realization that when the satisfaction of a real resolution is denied, beauty and meaning can be found only in its pursuit. As I pursue happiness and the discovery of beauty, I find that satisfaction exists for me only in a perpetual sense of 'going', of always moving forward, and accepting that although some goals can never be achieved, and some failures are guaranteed, there is "beauty in the certainty of never reaching what I'm after."

"Fist & Palm" was written and recorded by Oliver Kalb over the course of two writing periods. The first was a month-long song-a-day project in October 2014, from which 7 of the 31 songs written for the project were kept for the final album, and a certain sonic template was mapped out for how the record would develop the sound of Bellows as a recording project. After a heavy year of touring throughout 2015, the album was completed between October 2015 and January 2016, in a several month long fit of anxiety. James Wilcox (JCW) produced, sequenced and sampled drums on several songs, Felix Walworth (Told Slant) recorded live drums throughout the record, Gabrielle Smith (Eskimeaux) contributed violin and choral arrangements, and Jack Greenleaf (Sharpless) mixed the record and added final arrangements.

credits

released September 30, 2016

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about

Bellows Brooklyn, New York

Bellows is the bedroom recording project of songwriter and producer Oliver Kalb.

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Track Name: You Are A Palm Tree
Can you be kind?
Walk with me to the corner store
Yellow cans of 24’s
We’re fighting in the yard
That’s what it takes to be your bud

Can you be kind?
Remembering your simple smile
Upper lip that shrinks inside
Behind the crooked glow
The parts of you I cannot know

And if you show your face, I won’t be afraid
Nothing’s hidden now in the dark
And if you show your face, I won’t be afraid
If you show me who you are

Cause you are a palm tree, like me, not quite shady
A palm tree, like me, not quite shady

Can you be kind?
And do you fit these changing clothes?
The parts of me you do not know?
And can we let it go, the limping life we sing at shows?


And if you show your face, I won’t be afraid
Nothing’s hidden now in the dark
And if you show your face, I won’t be afraid
If you show me who you are

Cause you are a palm tree, like me, not quite shady
A palm tree, like me, not quite shady
Apart, we start, we race in dark rooms
Apart, we start, we race in dark rooms
Track Name: Orange Juice
Drinking orange juice from a tonic water bottle
I hate the way I always lose my cool
To be the way I wanted, but half of what I wanted was confused
Something cruel, I kept inside my pocket
I always end up sounding like a fool
End up running through a mess of bad behaviors
I’m lashing out whenever I’m with you

At the Palisades, with the tonic water bottle
The second band is saying that they’re through
So we move, but I wanna keep sippin’
I’ve always been a little bit aloof
Drinking orange juice from a tonic water bottle
You turn to me and ask me if I’m through
And I laugh at you, but I throw away my bottle
We pile up with Henry, Jack and Sue

Not so cool to have trouble saying sorry
Becoming what I never wanted to
Going blue, I’m having trouble breathing
So nervous whenever I talk to you
Drinking orange juice from a tonic water bottle
I brought it here to share the thing with you
And I knew that I was being careless, so sorry if I wasn’t very cool
Track Name: Thick Skin
Staring out your car window I feel my size
Hudson Palms, The Catskill Gulf Stream
The world’s alive!

I knew your fullness from the start, I felt your size
And I saw an ending in your face, your arms, your bed at night

And what’s better than looking for it, something you won’t find?
I’ve grown so thick skinned lately, but I wanna cry

You couldn’t see the way I let go
Surfaced from sorrow and sunk into something more gross
Cause I still fear the unknown
Don’t wanna leave the earth even for a moment


Cause what’s better than looking for it?
What’s better than lost time?
I’ve grown so thick skinned lately, but I wanna cry

So will you hold me close, then open your arms?
I want to feel you missing, to feel your warmth

Cause what’s better than looking for it, something you won’t find?
I’ve grown so thick skinned lately
But I want to cry
But I want to cry
But I want to cry
Track Name: Bummer Swells
Can you remember me, strong like I pretend to be
A twenty-year-old’s fantasy of impressing you with songs
But I got lost in bummer swells, noisy pops and MIDI bells
And before I had the chance to yell I’m losing once again

Four o’clock the waiting ends, F connecting to the M
Waiting for a text to send, “are you finished with your mom?”
Four o’clock the waiting ends, J connecting from the M
Myrtle-Broadway once again, rising with the sun

Sweet soft city light, always sad in summer time
Sleeping off too many drinks, lying on the ground
But he will never rise again, smiling to greet his friends
And he will never turn around or come this way again

Sweet soft city light, always sad in summer time
Sleeping off too many drinks, lying on the ground
But he will never rise again, smiling to greet his friends
And he will never turn around or come this way again
Track Name: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
You saw me as the purest form
Naked against the window pane
I cannot see you tonight
I saw you in black and white film
Naked against the wallpaper
I could not unsee that shot
And I would like to see you tonight

Through spring, summer, autumn into winter
I can see how time has passed
I haven’t been myself
Bleak obsessions, bully dogs in dresses
When you don’t pick up the phone I make up what you said

I want to hold your thought
Every last edge of what I want to think you are
It’s just what you’re not

Saw you in black and white
Naked against the backdrop of a thought that I had long kept inside

Through spring, summer, autumn into winter
I can see how time has passed
I haven’t been myself
Bleak obsessions, bully dogs in dresses
When you don’t pick up the phone I make up what you said

Spring, summer, autumn into winter
I’m not comfortable at home
Or relaxed around my friends
A weird ending, bully dogs and weddings
There is beauty in the form, purity and warmth
Track Name: O Joy!
At the corner of your street
A different image of your street ingrained in me
Perhaps I pause outside your place
Perhaps I stop to catch my breath, perhaps I speak:

O Joy! How glad I was to feel my mood turn
O Joy! How glad I was to see your full form

And at a different time we meet
Though perhaps we meet this time differently
And maybe I had overthought
And maybe you pursued this thought to other means

O Joy! How long it takes to feel I’m not home
O Joy! How long it takes to feel I’m far gone

I want to share a thought with you
That there was something I had lost loving you
If we had touched with more than skin
If there was something deeper within

O Joy! How quickly I put out this fire
O Joy! How quickly there was nothing at all
O Joy! How long it took to milk the venom
O Joy! How long it took the snake to squirm

Don’t want to fight in the yard tonight
You bring so much joy into life for me, it’s true
When I bring my fists up, you just reject the very concept of fisticuffs, I knew
And I find myself wondering how to be a better friend when I’m wandering between
How it’s frustrating to be there for you, and to resent the very fact you weren’t there for me, it’s true
And I compare how you fight me in silence
And how I want a bit more than that from quiet

O Joy! Forever
Track Name: A Sordid Ending
A sordid ending to a bad rock song and I am bored
And your father doesn’t yell anymore
But he pretends to his friends you weren’t born
Or at least that your band is on tour
Or that you don’t ask for money anymore


We fell asleep in my mini-van watching stars
I never once asked how tired you are
Or if you ever said sorry to your mom
You don’t deserve to be treated like you’re dumb
Even if you’ve been hurting everyone

What can be said inside a peaceful stare is how I want
To disown the friendship we forgot
To never ask you something you won’t confront
To never yell at you again in the yard
Or to hear that I don’t know things are hard
Track Name: Bully
The perfect thing you wrote, bonfires in my fingers
You were not alone, I could feel what you were feeling
In that song I wrote, I felt so close to leaving
You were holding tight, spoke without me hearing

A message on your machine, lost in cellphone speakers
You know what I mean, though you’re not close enough to hear it
Somehow I’m not here, always hooked on endings
I broke that off this year, but I lost track of how it felt

And if it really was so awful
And if I could have known you for real
He got so drunk and high, this sparrow
That he went crashing through the window

Spring comes in like teeth, chewed up, thawing ice
He’s hurtling through the trees
I can’t see your body
But I can feel your might, lost in autumn breezes
You are something wild
I almost believe it


Though you couldn’t be my friend all last year
I couldn’t be there for you either
You had to black out on some liquor
To not confront the basic idea:
We feel the same thing just as awful
We feel the same pain just as awful
And as convinced I was you hurt me
That I was nothing more than a bully
Track Name: Beauty
Everything I thought was beautiful is spoiled
Everything I thought was pure has come to harm
Everything I thought was magical is ordinary
Somehow I need you in my life

I can feel your arrogance consume me
You can feel my rejection of your space
Everything I loved about you now annoys me
A squirrel hole, a slap in my face

At your show I was hiding in the bathroom
Overwhelmed with desire just to leave
And though I’m drunk I just drive away without you
You come through after I fall asleep

There is a vulture circling our little stream in the desert
The blooming of the marigolds, the flight of the frightened deer
There is beauty in the way we bloom and fade together
Beauty in the certainty of never reaching what I’m after

You invite me in for a bump in your apartment
Creepy home we lived in once upon a time
I find it easy to confide in any stranger
I’m lonely, angry all the time
Unavailable to everyone I care for
Unconcerned for the people that I love
Unadorned you are crying in the corner
I’m wasted and I can only shrug

(Say something beautiful and just disappear, or hate how you’re living like everyone else her)

I do not comfort you at all or dignify your failure
Was I expecting something better, something straight from the gut this time?
And I could shout, “why won’t you look at me?” as you turn your shoulder
Beauty in the certainty of never reaching what I’m after


There is a vulture circling our little stream in the desert
And diving to the shore it eats the flesh of the dying deer
There is beauty in the way they bloom and fade together
Beauty in the certainty of never reaching what I’m after
Beauty in the dirty snow that settles in the dead of winter
Beauty in the evidence that you and I are tied together

Driving home through the country in the nighttime
There is peace in the nothingness I like

And then the conversation turns to what we thought was ending
A friendship that years ago felt right
A love we wasted every time
And I’m ashamed to have put you through this fight
And I just rage at what became my life
That making something beautiful was not
Enough to raise you up out of this rut
Track Name: Dark Heart
At the start I held your heart
An armored guard, a vault of money
What your secrets are
The hope that you would keep me dreaming
There’s a secret in the woods
There’s something out there, I can’t see it

Nothing’s so sincere
Lost in something out of reaching


An unbroken thing, a dark star
I woke up and you weren’t breathing
A hardened thing, a dark heart
I am here and you are speaking

As scary as you are
As deeply as my love is hidden
I will kiss you in the car
While the band is getting wasted
There’s a secret in my heart
There’s something in there, you can’t see it
Nothing so obscure
The part of me I know you needed

The unbroken thing, the hard heart
You woke up and I was bleeding
The hardened thing, the dark heart
I am here, I’m almost weeping

I want something more than life
Eyes closed, hiding nothing
I want something more than life
Eyes closed, hiding nothing
I want something more than life
Eyes closed, hiding nothing
I want something more than life
Eyes closed, hiding nothing

The unbroken thing, the dark heart
You woke up and I was sleeping
The hardened thing, the hard heart
I am here and you are speaking

The unbroken thing, the dark star
Waking life that feels like dreaming
And baring here this hard heart
I was something more than living
Track Name: From The Palms
In the yard, I see you smiling
Broad, some time ago
Odd, how long I lasted
Angry, full of hatred

In the snow, we looked so crazy
Wrecking balls, our every footstep crushing
And oh, I finally see you
Closer, broad, expanding
A white sheet, no more haunting
The wrestle, fist & palm
The cold
My home

From the palms, your broad arms
Open your hands
Open your….

In the yard, I see you smiling
So why am I so sad?
Sometimes in moments of quiet
I remember your face and I feel unhappy
How did I make it so hard to love me?
And why is it so hard?
Why is it so hard?
To care for you?
To love you