1) Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Parquet Courts transcends what music should be and who it should appeal to. They’ve gone from a little indie band who got their start in 2011, releasing a completely obscure and barely listenable album entitled American Specialties (on cassette only, no less – the vinyl wasn’t released until 2012, and there was never even a CD, to my dismay), to having Ellen Degeneres get the audience on their feet this year to dance along to the irresistible title track of their new record as they performed it on daytime TV. Go to one of their shows. You’ll see preppy frat guys with Sperry’s on their feet and button down shirts next to punk girls with nose rings and Black Flag patches on their vests. Meanwhile, the four guys on stage are wearing off-brand polos and old t-shirts, not giving a shit. They’re not rock stars. They’re first class musicians, and they have mastered their craft (pun intended, if you know the Light Up Gold record). I’ll even go as far as to call their style completely unique. It’s very accessible, but I dare you to try to give me a sturdy comparison for a RIYL.
Total Football kicks this record off, and it’s absolutely the best track you’ll hear all year, off of any release. That bass riff is indie rock goodness to die for. Before The Water Gets Too High is a biting social commentary on the mess our environment is in. Or is it someone else’s job, until the rich are refugees?, A. Savage ponders. Preach brother! The title track was already mentioned, and it’s wonderful – just put that thing on and dance. Grab your kids and swing-em around the room and laugh your head off. Quick little sub-two-minute indie rockers like NYC Observation and Extinction only add to the question marks that will be rising out of your head as you wonder how you’ve gotten this far in your life without this record.
Man, I love the double-header of Almost Had To Start A Fight / In And Out Of Patience. Semi chaos gives way to tight guitar work and a staccato rhythm, and it’s just outta control. Who knows what goes on in the heads of these four guys? They’re talented in a way that I know I can’t even wrap my mind around. What’s my proof? They put out an experimental EP in 2015 entitled Monastic Living, and I kid you not – it’s 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, as it’s truly one of the most awful things I’ve ever heard in my entire life. It makes their debut record (the one I called barely listenable at the beginning of this review) sound catchy. But they somehow cared enough about those ideas to go into a studio, record them, and press them to vinyl. Somehow, I believe that without the ideas/fireworks that must go off in their brains that could cause such terrible sounds, they wouldn’t be able to hone the rest of their creative output and give us the perfection that is Wide Awake! FYI: There really is an exclamation mark at the end of that title. I’m not simply trying to sound excited, even thought I am! (I meant that one). Go buy this, or stream it on Spotify if you have to. You won’t find a better full-length this year.
Listen To: Total Football, Before The Water Gets Too High, Almost Had To Start A Fight / In And Out Of Patience
Rough Trade, May 18th, 2018