Parquet Courts

TWIN ATLANTIC TAKES EUROPE
October 17, 2016 9:00 am

Twin Atlantic seem to be celebrating the release of their album GLA by tearing Europe to shreds. After a summer spent playing festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, and T in the Park, the band is taking the show on the road with dates in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and a whole ton of other places.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS exchanged some transatlantic emails with drummer Craig Kneale and got the scoop on the creation of GLA, and the finer points of living in Glasgow.

I was in Glasgow over the summer, and did a number of things that are probably considered “touristy”. What do you think visitors to Glasgow generally miss?
Glasgow has a thriving arts scene, and I suppose you would miss that if you didn’t dig a little deeper below the surface. The four compass points of the city (East/West/South/North) are all so different from each other too – you won’t get the full picture unless you experience a little bit of each of them.

King Tut’s is a pretty well-known music venue in Glasgow. What others do you like for seeing live music?
Well, not being biased – but Barrowlands is one of the greatest venues in the world. I’ve never seen a bad show there – there’s something in that room that creates an electric atmosphere between the performer and the crowd that’s really special.

You’ve performed at a number of music festivals, as well as some smaller venues. Do you prefer one over the other?
I think you can’t really appreciate one without the other. I suppose that our own shows are always more special to us – but it’s great getting to spend the summer playing festivals when the pressure is off a little. When it’s your own show and people have paid to see you, there’s more at stake as you don’t want to let people down.

Are there any bands/musicians in Glasgow you feel deserve more attention?
I’m a little out of the loop on music in Glasgow at the moment, but I really like Holy Esque. I think they’re already on their way up, but even the biggest bands in the world could do with more attention I guess.

GLA, your new album, has a much heavier sound than your previous releases. Did something make you want to create a less pop-sounding album?
It kind of naturally happened when the album was being written. Perhaps subconsciously the songs turn out heavier as there were moments on the last album where we weren’t all fully attached to the songs. GLA seemed to be much easier to record than the previous album – so perhaps it’s a more natural sound for us.

What music are you listening to currently?
I’m currently listening to a lot of Parquet Courts + Mac DeMarco. And I got the new Local Natives album this week which I really like.

You recorded GLA in Los Angeles, which is obviously very different from Glasgow. Is there anything you miss from your time there that you can’t do at home?
Well, the sun is out constantly so you don’t have to plan to do things dependent on weather like you do in Glasgow. Being able to drive to a beach and look at the ocean is something I don’t think I would get bored of either.

What advice would you give a band who are just entering the music business?
Just throw everything at it and always go with your instinct.

Is there anything you were surprised by when Twin Atlantic was first starting out?
Hmmm, not really. Everything at the start of this band was a learning curve for the 4 of us so we kind of tackled everything together. We started right at the very bottom so we were kind of prepared for most steps by the time we got to them.

Are you planning any shows in New York?
I really hope so. It’s one of our favorite cities, and one we’d love to come to more. I think there are plans to get over early next year, so hopefully it all works out.

PARQUET COURTS: KEEPING PUNK ALIVE
April 29, 2016 10:49 am

In regards to Parquet Courts jittery, scratchy, and bombastic 2012 debut record Light Up Gold, Tim Hodgin wrote:

” [It] is a conscious effort to draw from the rich culture of the city – the bands like Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, and the Velvet Underground that are not from New York, but of it. A panoramic landscape of dilapidated corner-stores and crowded apartments is superimposed over bare-bones Americana, leaving little room for romance or sentiment. It’s punk, it’s American, it’s New York… it’s the color of something you were looking for.

Punk isn’t a new musical phenomenon, but it’s certainly proved to be an enduring movement. The Ramones’ self-titled album was released this upcoming weekend, forty years ago, which some would say was responsible for launching the punk movement into the mainstream; to say the least, times have changed. We have cell phones, the internet, Chipotle, and I’m sure a few other technological advances I’m not thinking of. And yet, a band hasn’t emerged since that’s cooler than The Ramones: if The Strokes were a distant second, Parquet Courts may be inching in quickly. Another thing to note here–or perhaps you might call it a bias: all of these bands are from New York. What’s up with that? **

Parquet Courts has released four albums up to this point. Their first release, American Specialties, was more or less a quick introduction in DIY punk fashion: a mixed bag of four-track recordings exclusively released on cassette tape.  Although it’s possible to find these tracks elsewhere now, the original cassette is something of a collector’s item, with roughly only 100 copies in existence, with it’s odd Chinese-American food inspired cover art, also designed by guitarist-singer Andrew Savage.

Courts breakthrough into the indie world came in 2012 with the aforementioned Light Up Gold, which received near-universal acclaim from the music press. The album showcased the bands raw energy and Andrew Savages poignant viewpoints on the dismantling American times we live in. On “Borrowed Time“, he sings:

“Was feeling nostalgic for the days when / My thoughts dripped on to 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.”

As a fellow snake person, I could instantly relate to his feeling. “Stone and Starving” captured a similar situation: a young, starving artist, debating between roasted peanuts and Swedish fish. Parquet Courts followed suit with Sunbathing Animals, a project that landed the band a proper position on the US charts. Tracks like “Black and White” and “Ducking and Dodging” provided further insights, building on the same punk sound.

If you enjoyed their previous albums, their most recent Human Performance is a rewarding shift in gears.  They teased the record with groovy mural art. The albums focal point again is Adam Savages lyrics: discussing the anxiety of living in a city in uncertain times. However, They’re showing a divergence in style: an acute progression from their original street guitar rock content to a diverse range of sounds, instruments. Human Performance is a post-punk record.  If Light Up Gold was Wire’s Pink Flag, Human Performance is Wire’s Chair’s Missing.

Perhaps because of the atonal guitar noise, or the cynical nature of Andrew Savage’s lyrical content, Parquet Courts draws many comparisons to Pavement, a band that also showcased a raw DIY energy through the progression of their albums in the 90s.  However, not everyone appears to be so fond of this comparison. I tend to hear more of the early punk influences. They have the minimalism of The Velvet Underground. They have an all-around uncanny resemblance to Modern Lovers. In reality though, no one sounds just like Parquet Courts. They own their coolness all to themselves.

If you’re an avid Parquet Courts fan, now is the time to catch them on stage. They’re currently on tour and will be hitting most major American cities this Spring/Summer. They’re also touring with B Boys, who just released their debut EP No Worry No Mind, and will even do one show with Priests, for whom I got to see perform live at Philly’s Underground Arts and wrote about here.

** To clarify, AtypicalSounds is based in New York, but I’m from North Carolina, and write from Philly.  I’ve been to New York a handful of times, and it more or less feels like a giant theme park for rich people, but what can I say? New York has awesome music. And that’s all that matters.