Tuesday, May 26, 2015

- Editorial -
Parquet Courts: How A Friend’s Dad Turned Me Onto New York’s Most Exciting Active Band, The Hard Way
Jesse Mullen

(Parquet Courts, from l-r: Austin Brown (gtr/vox), Sean Yeaton (bass/vox), Andrew Savage (gtr/vox), and 
Max Savage (Drums))

One day last September, (the 9th, to be precise) I arrived at the train station, like I always do at 9:20 AM, to leave for classes. I was approaching the staircase, when I heard a warm, but weary voice at the top. “Is that a Sleater-Kinney shirt?” a man asked. “I love Sleater-Kinney!” I recognized this voice Immediately. It was the father of a classmate of mine from High School, whom I had known since Kindergarten. To say that I was impressed that a 50something, in a tiny town knew who Sleater-Kinney were was an understatement. But that he enjoyed their abrasive and not always melodic music impressed me even more. We chatted for fifteen minutes about his Portland origins, and how Stephen Malkmus’s eponymous debut solo album is an underrated gem. Then our conversation took a different turn; New music we enjoyed. I can’t even remember what I said (most likely something trivial, with no lasting appeal.) But what he said interested me, from the moment it rolled off his tongue; Parquet Courts. Parquet Courts. The name fascinated me, despite the fact that “parquet” was not part of my semi-limited vernacular. I thought about it on the train ride, as my own headphones blared the new Thurston Moore album, The Best Day. I thought about it at B Natural, the market, where I get my daily cup of coffee, and the best in New Haven. I thought about it during Art History, and I thought about it in the imbeciles Math class that I attended that semester. (Not sure that I learned anything in either that day, If I’m being honest.) I thought about it as I took my 4:00 train home, and I thought about it as I climbed the stairs to my room, eagerly anticipating my next HDtracks purchase. Their newest record was titled Sunbathing Animal, and I thought this would be the best place to start. I imported the album to Winamp, put on my Sennheisers, and listened. It’s safe to say that I was not immediately amused, or converted. At first glance, they lacked melody, and played too fast for their own good, limiting the number of slow tracks to three. I put the album down, never to listen again. Or so I thought.

(Image courtesy of What's Your Rapture/WYR)

My next encounter with the band came unexpectedly on the 16th of November. I was in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, that was playing Animal in it’s entirety, and I walked in while “Black and White” was on, which is track number two. I was seeing Johnny Marr in a few hours, and had some time to kill before the show began. So I took my time, and in this setting, I enjoyed the band much more. Cut to many months later, in early May of this year, and a friend linked to “Stoned And Starving,” off of their second album, 2013’s Light Up Gold, on his blog. I was in love, and hastily scrambled to buy the record online. When it arrived two days later, I cleaned it with a carbon fiber brush, and slapped it on my turntable. And I listened with surgical focus. That’s when I realized my enjoyment of them last November was no fluke; I was a bona fide fan. A more straight-forward (albeit lower-fidelity) record than Animal, Light Up Gold is full of track after track of instant classics, making it seem more a perfectly sequenced “greatest hits” album, than a sophomore album. 

(Image courtesy of What's Your Rapture/WYR)


Re-listening to Sunbathing Animal, through headphones for the first time since September later that day, I enjoyed it immensely. What had at first sounded like mindless noodling to me, now sounded like great progress, and a terrific re-invention for their sound, though a challenging one at that. It is their “Difficult Third Album” after all. For once, (and only this once so far), my first impressions were wrong.

And to my friend’s music-loving father, I would like to say this;

Thank you for sharing your musical knowledge with me. You are eternally wiser than I.

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