2017 February

Human Performance by Parquet Courts

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Notable new releases this week are completely overshadowed by the Sunday digital release of Radiohead’s 9th studio album (could it be their last?) “A Moon Shaped Pool”.  This is all I’ve been listening to all week in the car, and it’s a pretty incredible piece of work.  It’s a moody, mellow effort and loaded with the most intricate aural effects and sounds – extremely well-crafted.  If you’re already a fan you’ll love it, if you’re not a fan you may still want to check it out.  I’m still absorbing it almost one week in and discovering new things in the music each day.  So it’s great if you want to sit and just fully concentrate on absorbing the music, but it would also work well playing in the background.  It’s not something you throw on to listen to while working out or exercising though.  The amount of devotion/obsession shown by their fanatics online is beyond crazy though.  These guys are treated like deities by their fans, and to a ridiculous level in many cases.  Hey, I’ve been a big fan of the band for 20+ years and I have all of their albums, but c’mon people, get a grip.  Yes, they are an immensely talented band and create some very unique music, but there’s no need to get overly carried away by it.  Anyway, I’m not featuring Radiohead this week and may not ever, they get plenty of attention on their own.  But if you’d like me to highlight some music from their latest album, let me know and I can put something together in a future email.  Other releases to note this week include the third album “Nattesferd” from Norwegian metal maniacs Kvelertak, Chance the Rapper’s self-released follow-up to the acclaimed “Acid Rap” – “Coloring Book” featuring a slew of guests, and a new single from Manchester legends the Stone Roses just came out Thursday.  If you’re not familiar with the Stone Roses, then go seek out a copy of their S/T debut album which came out in 1989 – and you’re welcome.
 
There’s been so many great new releases the past few weeks, that I’ve failed to tout a few albums that came out right before then.  So this week I’m highlighting the 3rd album from Parquet Courts titled “Human Performance”, which came out in early April. Parquet Courts are yet another Brooklyn band (originally hailing from Texas), that came together in 2010.  They have an indie rock sound with some jagged punk edges, and at times you can hear a lot of Pavement influence in their music.  They released their first album on cassette only in 2011 “American Specialties”, which also got a vinyl release a year later.  Their “official” debut came out in the summer of 2012 “Light Up Gold” and it quickly gained critical acclaim and they built a solid fan base as they toured to support this album.  They cut an EP in 2013 and then released their second album in 2014 “Sunbathing Animal”.  This then led to a slew of different recordings (not proper albums) including a full-length as the Parkay Quarts, a concert album, a few 7” singles and a mostly instrumental EP.  Obviously the band was working through a lot of experimentation and songwriting techniques.  Their 3rd proper album “Human Performance” is their first album with songwriting contributions from all four members (Andrew Savage vocals/guitar/keyboards, Austin Brown guitar/vocals, Sean Yeaton bass/vocals and Max Savage behind the kit + vocals).  All of the experimentation the band did between albums seems to have really paid off because “Human Performance” is their best and most focused effort yet.  Not that they don’t have their share of curveballs worked in throughout the 13 songs on the album.  But the band has kicked it into a different gear and seem to have settled into a nice groove.  It will be interesting to see where they go from here.
 
“Dust” – This is a good example of how the band has evolved on the new album.  “Dust” is a straightforward, catchy track that highlights some of the deadpan humor the band often shows  “It comes through the window and it comes through the floor, it comes through the roof and it comes through the door.  Dust is everywhere.  Sweep!  Sweep.”.  It’s executed far better than it reads!  Great guitar, a hooky chorus and some interesting keyboard work are highlights on this track. 

 
“Berlin Got Blurry” – This song starts off with a guitar that sounds like it was plucked from a western movie.  The verses then speed up and go on a different path.  Then that western guitar comes back in the instrumental breaks between verses.  During the choruses, there’s a cool keyboard burst that brings on a ‘60s vibe.  The keyboards and organ later on start playing together to fully flesh out the track.  The band packs a lot of words into the verses on this song, which is completely the opposite of the minimal lyrics in “Dust”.