Arts & CultureMusic

Review: Parkay Quarts navigates through cyber anxieties

I have a troubled relationship with Parquet Courts.

I feel as if I’m watching the world’s funniest comedian and everyone around me is laughing. I awkwardly acknowledge to myself that the jokes are funny – I’m just not laughing and I don’t know why. Inadvertently, I alternate between obsession and denial of the band’s greatness. The band is great and I respect all of its work, but I am standing at the threshold of determining whether I love this band or if I despise them. It is making me crazy.

Sunbathing Animal, the band’s first album of 2014, was critically adored by seemingly everyone for its gruff guitar work and wise-cracking lyrics. Releasing one potential Album of the Year candidate was simply not enough for Parquet Courts though.

For an encore, the band released Content Nausea, its fourth full-length album and second of the year. Recording under the pseudonym Parkay Quarts because of the temporary absence of two members, guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown churned this album out in a period of less than 14 days on a four track recorder.

The overwhelming, but aptly titled “Content Nausea” begins with a blast of guitar, snare drum and vocals and as the title implies, the lyrics are never-ending; almost nauseating. Savage references everything from World War IV to a time before the Internet, when it was still possible to meet with friends, write letters and release art or poetry without facing the scrutiny of comment boards.

This monotone talk/rap at first seems like an innocent song about frustration, but after a close listen, it feels more as if this song is a therapeutic purge of all that he hates about the overly invasive Internet.

A no-nonsense cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” evolves from the straight-up classic into a feedback filled guitar solo. Instead of being a woman walking out on her man, Savage uses his version of the song to signal that he and his boots are walking out on society and technology. With the guitar buildup and horn line supporting the desperation in his voice, it serves as a highlight of the album.

On “Pretty Machines,” Savage admits that “Punk songs, I thought that they were different/ I thought that they could end it, but no, no, it was a deception.” Punk used to give Savage a feeling of uniqueness, yet as he ages and the band grows more successful, he still struggles to find his place in the world. No matter what he tries, there is always the feeling of being overloaded in our technologically commanded world.

With the basis of disappointment and more importantly, admiration of punk, this album is musically driven beyond the familiar guitar rock formula, and evolves into a hybrid of part Minutemen punk, part Pavement, Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground. It is the rare breed of album that makes you want to grab a guitar and a copy of Leaves of Grass simultaneously.

Screw it – I love this band.


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Craig Wright

Craig Wright

Craig is the senior arts and culture editor for the Emerald. He is from West Linn, Oregon, and is a senior majoring in journalism at the UO. He has made Nick Frost laugh and has been deemed to be "f---ed up in the head" by legendary thrash-metal band Slayer.