Parquet Courts


(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Light Up Gold (2012) , 6.5/10
Sunbathing Animal (2014) , 5/10
Human Performance (2016), 7/10
Wide Awake (2018), 5/10
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New York's hippie-punk band Parquet Courts, fronted by vocalists and guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, paid tribute to an idiosyncratic set of classics on Light Up Gold (Dull Tools, 2012). Neither the speed nor the tone are hardcore. This is softcore punk-rock, easy digestible by the masses. The fundamental element is good old-fashioned rockabilly, packaged as nostalgic revival in Master of My Craft (with echoes of spaghetti-western soundtracks) and as post-puberal effervescence in Light Up Gold II (with echoes of the Sex Pistols). Johnny Thunder's Heartbreakers should tbe the reference point. Borrowed Time, instead, is charming enough to recall the adolescent frenzy of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers. The range of role models is vast: Stoned and Starving borrows the hypnotic strumming of the Feelies, and Donuts Only relies on a shouted melody reminiscent of Kim Carnes' Crazy In The Night; and there are also a couple of acid lullabies, Caster of Worthless Spells and Picture of Health.

Sunbathing Animal (What's Your Rupture, 2014) marks a disappointing step backwards as the best numbers are blatant imitations: the Cramps-ian fever of Black & White; What Color Is Blood, which is de facto a tribute to the Velvet Underground; Always Back In Town, whose boogie rhythm they may have found somewhere on Kevin Ayers's Shooting at the Moon; etc. The standouts, in fact, are two festivals of chidish banging and strumming, Sunbathing Animal and Ducking & Dodging, that hark back to British pub-rock of the late 1970s (Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe, etc). The limitations of the band come to the surface in the two longer songs (six and seven minutes, respectively), which are beyond boring. There was a time between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s when "revivalist" bands like this one popped up everywhere. Parquet Courts would have struggled to be heard.

Austin Brown and Andrew Savage also recorded under the moniker Parkay Quarts the EP Content Nausea (2014) that contains one of their best, Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth, their best impersonation yet of Lou Reed.

The EP Monastic Living (2015) contains some of their most daring experiments, notably Elegy of Colonial Suffering, a chunk of Lou Reed-ian "metal machine music".

Human Performance (Rough Trade, 2016) benefited from all those experiments. Beside the trivial ditties (Outside, that harks back to bubblegum-pop of the 1960s, the catchy folk-rock of Keep It Even and the calypso rap of Captive of the Sun), the album boasts the mournful but visceral Two Dead Cops, the dissonant Captain Beefheart-ian blues Paraphrased and especially Pathos Prairie, that sounds like a jovial country-rock version of Suicide. Even better is the odd pathos that is secreted in Dust by combining a sinister tribal Native-American beat and alienated Lou Reed-ian vocals. They now specialize in this kind of hybrid songs that assimilate the classics while negating them. Berlin Got Blurry weds Duane Eddy and Bob Dylan. The litany of Human Performance falls somewhere between Jonathan Richman and David Bowie. And so forth, epically forth.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Pierluigi Napoli)

La band hippie-punk di New York Parquet Courts, guidata dai cantanti e chitarristi Andrew Savage e Austin Brown, rende omaggio ad un idiosincratico insieme di classici su Light Up Gold (Dull Tools, 2012). Ne’ la velocita’ ne’ il tono sono hardcore. Questo è un punk-rock softcore, facilmente digeribile dalle masse. L’elemento fondamentale e’ un rockabilly in vecchio stile, confezionato come revival nostalgico in Master of My Craft (con echi delle colonne sonore spaghetti-western) e come effervescenza post-puberale in Light Up Gold II (con echi di Sex Pistols). Gli Heartbreakers di Johnny Thunder dovrebbero essere il punto di riferimento. Borrowed Time, al contrario, ha fascino a sufficienza per richiamare la frenesia adolescenziale dei Modern Lovers di Jonathan Richman. La gamma dei modelli da seguire e’ ampia: Stoned and Starving prende in prestito lo strimpellio ipnotico dei Feelies, e Donuts Only si affida ad una melodia gridata che ricorda Crazy In The Night di Kim Carnes; e ci sono anche un paio di ninnenanne acide, Caster of Worthless Spells e Picture of Health.

Sunbathing Animal (What's Your Rupture, 2014) segna un deludente passo indietro, in quanto i numeri migliori sono imitazioni sfacciate: la febbre Cramps-iana di Black & White; What Color Is Blood, che e’, de facto, un tributo ai Velvet Underground; Always Back In Town, il cui ritmo boogie devono aver trovato da qualche parte in Shooting at the Moon di Kevin Ayers; ecc. In pezzi migliori, in realta’, sono due festival di  battiti e strimpellare infantile, Sunbathing Animal e Ducking & Dodging, che si rifanno al pub-rock britannico della fine degli anni ‘70 (Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe, ecc). I limiti della band vengono a galla nelle due canzoni piu’ lunge (sei and sette minuti, rispettivamente), che sono piu’ che noiose. C’e’ stato un periodo tra la fine degli anni ’70 e l’inizio degli ’80 nel quale band “revivaliste” come questa saltavano fuori dappertutto. I Parquet Courts avrebbero fatto fatica a farsi ascoltare.

Austin Brown e Andrew Savage hanno registrato anche con il moniker Parkay Quarts l’EP Content Nausea (2014) che contiene una delle loro migliori, Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth, finora la loro migliore imitazione di Lou Reed.

L’EP Monastic Living (2015) contiene alcuni dei loro esperimenti piu’ arditi, soprattuto Elegy of Colonial Suffering, un pezzo di "metal machine music" Lou Reed-iana.

Human Performance (Rough Trade, 2016) ha beneficiato di tutti quegli esperimenti. Oltre alle canzoncine banali (Outside, che rimanda al bubblegum-pop degli anni ‘60, l’orecchiabile folk-rock di Keep It Even e il rap calypso di Captive of the Sun), l’album vanta la lugubre ma viscerale Two Dead Cops, il blues dissonante in stile Captain Beefheart Paraphrased e soprattutto Pathos Prairie, che suona come una gioviale versione country-rock dei Suicide. Ancora meglio e’ lo strano pathos che e’ secreto in Dust combinando un sinistro battito tribale da nativi americani e canto alienato a la’ Lou Reed. Ora sono specializzati in questo tipo di canzoni ibride che assimilano i classici negandoli allo stesso tempo. Berlin Got Blurry sposa Duane Eddy e Bob Dylan. La litania di Human Performance si colloca a meta’ strada tra Jonathan Richman e David Bowie. E cosi’ via, epicamente avanti.

Il commentario sociopolitico Wide Awake (2018) cerca un sound piu’ ampio.

Milano (2017) was a collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' vocalist Karen O.

The sociopolitical commentary of Wide Awake (2018) tried a broader sound, but not even remotely related to punk-rock. At best, the album offers the harmless garage-rock of Total Football. More often the songs ape the Byrds (Mardi Gras Beads) and the Moody Blues (Back to Earth). There are half-sung mid-tempo numbers that betray a lack of both skills and inspiration. Their attempts at faster material yields the embarrassing Normalization and NYC Observation, that would have been B-sides on Devo's singles. There is even an incursion in funk music, Wide Awake.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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