Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts

Scott & Charlene's Wedding, Household, Amanda X

Sat, May 4, 2013

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm


Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

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Parquet Courts
Parquet Courts
Parquet Courts began their 2014 release Content Nausea with the repeated refrain, “everyday it starts – anxiety!” And while that track left off at just its start, Human Performance dives in, picking apart the anxieties of modern life with the band’s most innovative and emotional collection of songs to date. Not that that’s the whole story.

“The final product of this album is Exhibit A that we made it through the shit, solved the problem, had the chuckle, took the piss, made up with the other guy, and got home in one piece,” laughs bassist Sean Yeaton.

Whereas other Parquets Courts albums were recorded in a matter of days or weeks, for Human Performance the band took an entire year; it’s the first LP that finds all four band members contributing songs.

Human Performance brings expansive sonic experimentation and shining melodic introspection onto matters of the heart, matters of humanity, of identity. “I told you I loved you, did I even deserve it when you returned it?” singer/guitarist Andrew Savage wonders on the title track. It’s also their most pop-oriented collection yet, coming only months after the release of the largely instrumental Monastic Living EP; a record that was actually made at the same time.

“In a way, Monastic Living was like a palate cleanser for us as a band,” explains singer/guitarist Austin Brown, who produced the entire record, and mixed it in Austin at Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi, “maybe a return to our roots of improvising together, and being a bit more free, and seeing what kind of new sounds we could make.”

The recording sessions started at Justin Pizzoferrato’s Sonelab in Western Massachusetts. Some of it was also made with Tom Schick and Jeff Tweedy at The Loft, Wilco’s visionary studio in Chicago, but the majority of Human Performance was made at Dreamland Studios, a massive upstate NY pentecostal church where records have been made by The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr, and the B-52s (including “Love Shack”). They spent three weeks straight there, writing by day and recording with Pizzoferrato by night.

The result is a record with a palpable sense of fragility. “The process of writing and recording Human Performance, for me, was a fairly uncomfortable confrontation with my emotions,” Savage says. “Emotions I don’t think I’ve fully explored in my life, artistic or otherwise.”

Human Performance is fittingly laced with as much static as softness, with tight-wound percussion pushing along meandering, wistful melodies. There are dazed and disoriented earworms, echoing group chants, downtempo ballads with wired riffs. Lovers leave, existential confusion replaces them, weeks pass, the J train rolls by.

The record leads with “Dust”, a 4-minute opener that takes the mundane daily duty of sweeping the floor and turns it into a frantic, obsessive call for action. “Dust is everywhere … Sweep!” they drolly repeat, before their cyclic back beat gives way to explosive, everyday city sound of car horns.

Savage says “Human Performance” is his most personal song on the record, a solemn musing on love drifting away, a picture-perfect memory of the beginning of things and a hazier recollection of the ending. “It didn’t feel right to be shouting, barking,” he says, reflecting on his tendency to really sing for this first time on this album. “I think a lot of people are attracted to a sort of cerebral side of Parquet Courts, in the lyricism. There has always been the emotional side of our band, which I think has always been an important balance, but Human Performance marks a point where the scales have tipped. I began to question my humanity, and if it was always as sincere as I thought, or if it was a performance. I felt like a malfunctioning apparatus. Like a machine programmed to be human showing signs of defect.”

Across six years, four full-length albums, and two EPs, Parquet Courts have always littered their lyric sheets with question marks, interrogating the outside world to varying degrees. Light Up Gold considered peanuts versus Swedish Fish, an introduction of their sharp, young wit and language of mundane, everyday NYC imagery. Sunbathing Animal channeled that language into noisy punk philosophy, raising wide-view questions about agency versus captivity, choice versus freewill. Content Nausea wondered about anxiety and emotional deterioration under the age of big data, in an aptly self-aware way: “And am I under some spell? And do my thoughts belong to me? Or just some slogan I ingested to save time?” And with Human Performance—their fifth album and second for Rough Trade—the question marks get turned on themselves more than ever.

“There is a lot of darkness, and general anguish being worked out on this record,” Brown adds. “But it ends kind of peacefully, kind of accepting that you can’t do much about it.”
Scott & Charlene's Wedding
Scott & Charlene's Wedding
On the surface, it seemed Craig Dermody's life wasn't going all that bad in his home of Melbourne, Australia. He was playing around town in the psychedelically damaged rock unit Spider Vomit as well as in his wonderfully brainless Punk band, Divorced.

He was exhibiting his paintings in various DIY art spaces to decent acclaim and even cooked up a solo project that was getting positive nods around the Aussie underground. So why the hell did he uproot himself and move 10,000 miles away to Brooklyn? "I love New York and always knew I was going to live here for a part of my life" thumbs Dormody via his iPhone in between constant gigging and working countless hours doing set design. "I also knew I was going to keep doing my band. I'll be surprised if I'm not doing it forever."

The band he speaks of is Scott and Charlene's Wedding, the above mentioned solo project Dermody originally cooked up to play a friends' birthday party seven years ago. Scott and Charlene's Wedding is now an internationally tangled, many-membered mess of an actual band with an LP going into its third pressing and a gig list around town the length of my lovely, slender arm. The LP--entitled Para Vista Social Club--was originally self-released by Dermody in an edition of 200 with individually painted covers he exhibited in Melbourne before leaving. The Bedroom Suck label from his homeland ended up pressing the record up in larger amounts earlier this year and now the U.K. label Fire will be picking up the slack by re-issuing it on a larger scale with promise Craig will deliver a second full length to the label with his new U.S line-up of the band that he assembled when he landed in Brooklyn earlier this year.

Para Vista Social Club is a tangled mess of belligerent jangle pop that switches between being a tuneful temper tantrum by a child you'd leave by the roadside and a surly celebration of desperation. On the track "Epping Line," Dermody says life is such a bummer these days that he doesn't even want to eat his morning sausages anymore, and you just want to play the fucker the world's smallest violin. But then there's the track "Footscray Station," which might be the greatest, most authentic and empowering Rock 'N' Roll anthem to come down the pike in the past five years.
"I wrote 'Footscray Station' after visiting a friend of mine, Pippa Joseph," says Dermody. "She was opening a clothing store in Melbourne and the banks had stuffed up her plans. She was pacing up and down the soon to be shop saying she wasn't going to give up while waving her fists around. I went home and thought about how depressed I was about driving trucks every day for a furniture moving company and how shitty it was and I thought about Pippa saying we can make it if we if try. 'Footscray Station' just came out. That song still means so much to me, it props me up when I'm feeling down and out."
-- Tony Rettman
Way far out on the L train, Brooklyn’s Household made one really great, honest, personal record – this one – then promptly stopped playing out by the time it was released. This happens, and the challenge remains in trying to find a band on hiatus a home with listeners. So please spread the word about Household, three women who pulled together a range of influences, filled them with their own personalities, and showered them with respect. There is a feeling that runs through these nine songs of restlessness for change and living with the disappointments that sometimes bubble up in life, but not wanting (or having) to accept them. Seasoned listeners would place the band’s sound somewhere in the vicinity of the Billotte sisters, the Kill Rock Stars catalogue (then and before-then), Salem 66, Glass Eye, maybe even the good side of early ‘80s UK postpunk a la Delta 5 or the Marine Girls, and their strummy counterparts of America (the Feelies, Chalk Circle). These songs run on their own logic, guitar and bass strummed away, free of distortion, against rhythms that spring off in every which direction – the drums, the guitars, the varied cadences of the lyrics, meeting in handmade irregularity and occupying its own space for the time and place. The dual vocals of guitarist/Dusted scribe Talya Cooper and drummer Jenna Weiss-Berman fits right in there, one low register and the other high, even pulling off a nodding tribute to Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie on the chorus of “Phases.” The spare, reserved sound of the recording plays well with this batch of songs, each one ready to bolt out the door with inquisitive energy. My favorite here is closer “Cold Hands,” a tale of waiting for someone to come around who never does, taking the sour grapes that result and making wine. Sometimes you have to reveal your inner dissatisfaction to move on. The songs on Items, neatly and exactly, signify these thoughts.

-- Doug Mosurock
Amanda X
Amanda X
Born out of the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, where you can't throw a rock without hitting a great band, Amanda X is the three-piece antidote to bumming on grey days and the Sunday night blues. The Philadelphian women—Cat Park on guitar, Melissa Brain on drums, and Kat Bean on bass—make music to remind you that colorful riffs and lilting oo's are meant to complement post-punk shredding and astute songwriting. Their debut full-length, Amnesia, rattled you out of your wintertime slumber like a cannonball straight into the pool, and their sophomore record, Giant, brings more expressive solos, sharper vocals, and a few shots straight through the heart by way of a grimey Fender guitar and production by Steve Poponi at Gradwell House Recording.

Amanda X self-released their bedroom-cozy EP, Ruin the Moment, in 2012 to great acclaim, taking the sunny-serious vibes with them to venues all over Philadelphia, as well as on a number of tours up and down the East Coast and Canada. They’ve since toured all over the country, opening for bands like Parquet Courts, Marnie Stern, Dum Dum Girls, FIDLAR, The Vaselines, The Thermals, and Protmartyr, bringing playful stage banter, garagey guitar earworms, and dual harmonies that hit just as hard live.

After catching wind of their dedicated show schedule and powerful new songs, Philadelphia's own Siltbreeze picked up their first album; their followup will release digitally with Charlotte-based Self-Aware Records. The release of the sophomore record sees the trio growing their songwriting for a wider audience—just as strong, just as fast, but with a cleaner edge, one laced with an ever-present mix of sadness and hope. The lovely melodies and honey-tinged singalongs they've built their sound on are just as available, but now with wider eyes and more cutting lyrics. All of the proceeds from their sophomore followup will be donated to Women Against Abuse, a local Philly organization.

Imagine if Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks took a few lessons from The Raincoats, or if the K Records lineup of yesteryear had a little more distortion in their repertoire. Amanda X manages to deliver smarts and sweets in poppy songs so tightly packed that they come with a punch so strong they are really, really hard to forget.
Venue Information:
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123