Every week, I’ll share an album I’ve been listening to. Feel free to list your favorite recent releases in the comments below.
Tweet your current favorite albums to @SeanMPhipps or email them to email@example.com.
Parquet Courts, "Light Up Gold"
Hear a sample here.
The first “proper” release from this New York band is full of Texas transplants. "Light Up Gold" is a DIY underground record with excellent lyrics provided by members A. Savage and Austin Brown. Its punk essence is heavy, but so is its heart. As the band says, this record is for "... the over-socialized victims of the 1990s, 'you can be anything you want,' Nickelodeon-induced lethargy.”
What the critics think:
“Light Up Gold” was officially released on Jan. 15 and is thus far receiving universal acclaim. The Guardian says, “Parquet Courts have produced a debut that's both instantly addictive and lastingly rewarding: a smart, snappy concoction of worldly wisdom and garage-rock gratification.” The publication compares the band in a positive light to The Modern Lovers and The Feelies, with their “tightrope walk between two-chord fundamentals and lively detail.” Continuing on the list of comparisons, All Music Guide hears Pavement and Sonic Youth, but “all these disparate influences don't show up in a way that feels jarring or derivative, which is perhaps the great strength of 'Light Up Gold,'" they say. The typically irascible Pitchfork gives the album a strong 8.0 score, saying, “Parquet Courts are high as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. [They are] stoned, starving and maybe just a little bit irritable..,” which makes for interesting music. Pitchfork has the best summation of the band, saying, “... They're smart, but they don't always act it. They could probably play these songs a little better if they wanted to. They're very funny, but not the kind of funny that makes you laugh much. They contradict themselves constantly. They probably wait until the afternoon to shower.” And with that, we have Parquet Courts.
What I think:
I think I would really hate to be in a room with Parquet Courts, but I really like this album. The Pavement influence is the one that sticks out to me most when listening to "Light Up Gold." I can hear similarities in the comparison—especially the early Pavement records, like "Slanted and Enchanted" and "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain." The pleasant surprise from Parquet Courts is the quality of the lyrics. These songs, played in a sloppy warble, are brilliantly crafted. "Borrowed Time," for example, starts off like this: “I was feeling nostalgic for the days when my thoughts dripped onto my head from the ceiling. I remember the feeling of the muse-less existence, of the drunk, bored and listless, endless waiting for something that I knew wasn't coming. And it seems these days I'm captive in this borrowed time.” Well, that pretty sums up the feeling of my early 20s. The song "Careers in Combat" is a middle finger to the job market and right-wing America: “... There are no spots left for park ranger 'cause there are no bears left to save you from, but there are still careers in combat, my son.” The Pavement influence is most noticeable in a song called “Tears of Plenty,” a song that sounds as if Stephen Malkmus himself joined the session. The song “Donuts Only” reminds me of Tonetta. There are moments on “Light Up Gold” where I want to come through the speakers and shake these guys, but at the same time, I understand why so many people can relate to this record. Americans are pissed, especially those people who are young enough to want to do something about it. Parquet Courts hits a raw nerve with youth across the board. We’ll be singing these songs all year.