Indie rockers Parquet Courts will be coming to the First Ave Mainroom on Thursday, July 18th supporting their latest release Wide Awake!. Tickets are available HERE
Wide Awake! is New York’s Parquet Courts’ fifth record since their formation eight years ago. It’s also their most groundbreaking. It’s an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. Love is at its center. There’s also a freshness here, a breaking of new territory that’s testament to the group’s restless spirit.
In part, this may be attributed to the fact that it’s produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, but it’s also simply a triumph of their songwriter’s art. The songs, written by Austin Brown and Andrew Savage are filled with their traditional punk rock passion, as well as a lyrical tenderness, but are elevated to even greater heights by the dynamic rhythmic propulsion of Max Savage (drums) and Sean Yeaton (bass).
The songs on Parquet Courts new record also make you think of what Joe Strummer of The Clash once said, about why he wrote songs – i.e. “to expand people’s vocabularies.” So set against the likes of the elegiac “Mardi Gras Beads” is the opening track “Total Football.” Named after the eponymous theory of soccer pioneered by the Dutch that requires every player to be able to play every position on the field, it has shout-outs to iconic individualists like the painter Cy Twombly, the poet Mina and sculptor Eva Hesse. It’s a song about “opposing the tired alpha-male-lone-wolf archetype that too many people rely on as an avatar,” Savage explains, and lauding “creative and inspiring individuals (the song also touches on KoBrA, The Beatles and The Black Panthers) that approached individuality in a way that wasn’t contrary to collectivism, and vice versa.” Much like the band themselves – four individual artists forging a brave new world of sound.
Ultimately then the message contained in Wide Awake! is complex. “In such a hateful era of culture, we stand in opposition to that — and to the nihilism used to cope with that — with ideas of passion and love,” Brown says. For Savage, it comes back to the deceptively complex goal of making people want to dance, powering the body for resistance through a combination of groove, joy, and indignation, “expressing anger constructively but without trying to accommodate anyone.” That they’ve managed to weave such disparate themes into such a unified whole says everything about Parquet Courts’ achievement on Wide Awake!. This isn’t just another record by them, it might well be the record. For now anyway.
Parquet Courts will be playing the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on July 20th