Parquet Courts: “Tears O Plenty”
Here’s a dirty little secret about rock writers. As it stands in 2012, the word “indie” as a genre name is pretty much meaningless. It doesn’t tell you much about who the band is, or what they sound like, other than they’re not in the Top 40–and that’s not even true anymore. No, today the word “indie” is a placeholder for us lazy rock writers that can’t come up with a better descriptor for a band that’s probably doing something slightly off-kilter, or isn’t backed by some Rich Uncle Pennybags or Sony–again, sometimes that that’s not even true either. So when you hear a band like NYC transplants Parquet Courts, a band with a sound that harkens back to the days when “indie” actually meant something (think handmade 7″ single sleeves, dirty DIY basement shows and photocopied ‘zines made of actual paper), it’s a refreshing thing.
Their tunes are (usually) short and simple, built on quick, sharp beats and hooky, repeating riffs. The lyrics aren’t so much sung as recited like Lou Reed tied to a metronome. Songs like “Stoned and Starving” from their newest record Light Up Gold could’ve landed them an opening spot for Television at CBGB’s back in ’77. That song’s follower, “No Ideas,” recalls Pavement’s heyday (That’ll do on the references). The band’s sound is very New York. Like the kind of New York every arty kid that grew up in the flyover states dreams of one day being a part of. Which is sort of appropriate that three-fourths of the quartet are Texas boys. Guitarists and vocalists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown met whilst attending college in Denton. Savage brought in his brother Max on drums and Boston-born bassist Sean Yeaton came aboard also. The four pulled up Texan stakes and headed for the Big Apple, and they’re making some waves. Pitchfork featured the Light Up Gold song “Borrowed Time” and gave it one of their “Best New Track” designations.
We here on the Song of the Day team would never allow ourselves to be outdone by Pitchfork, so we have, for your approval, another great track from Parquet Courts. “Tears O Plenty” is the the penultimate song on the new album. The tune’s got a punchy beat and prickly post-punky guitars. Between swirly instrumental breakdowns, the vocals bounce off the rhythm like a tennis ball against a garage door. Like most of the tunes on the album, it’s a pretty simple song, but easy to get lost in. Underground rock ‘n’ roll rarely sounds this cool. And please, just don’t call it indie.