There is a sudden buzz about Parquet Courts, especially with this new release, their 5th, Human Performance.  I usually stay blissfully unaware when it comes to New York bands (because of my disdain for The Strokes, etc. – those that never represented New York as far as this native is concerned) thanks to the deluge of nauseating hipsterdom and mediocre pseudo “new wave revivalists” or whatever bullshit they call themselves this week.  Nonetheless, the word of mouth from friends who I trust and respect led me to seek this one out and give it a try.  And being that they’ve been at this now for six years, there must be a ripening.

Having said that, the first track, “Dust” caught me by surprise – quite pleasantly.  I was struck by the Wire-like manner of the song – a singular riff with taut rhythm and short verses repeated; hypnotic and interesting.  The title track, “Human Performance” has shades of Lou Reed (around Loaded) but vocally, I hear Warren Zevon’s delivery.  Musically, it has again, Wire’s structure but this time during their 154 period (“Dust” had more of a Pink Flag feel) and “Outside” sounds like it came off Chairs Missing, so this band must have done some serious homework.  Comparisons aside, what I find so appealing about this is the sound of just the hammering guitars, the occasional use of keyboard and the solid rhythm section.

The off-kilter riffing of “Paraphrased” is enjoyable in the same way I like the skewed nature of the guitars utilized by bands like Pere Ubu or The Fall – dissonant but not irritating; “One Man No City” has a Gang Of Four-ness in a weird, groovy manner and “Berlin Got Blurry” is a galloping piece with neatly twanging guitars and some sinister licks after the chorus – and incredibly catchy.  “Two Dead Cops” is breakneck, old fashioned New York-style punk as is “Pathos Prairie”, which definitely has my approval, with some great effects and call-and-response vocals.

So for once, I can say a new(ish) New York band has got the goods and can hopefully continue to grow and build on what they’ve delivered in this album.  Thanks to the suggestions of my friends, I can say Parquet Courts are definitely a go.  Check this album out if you want to get back to a good musical head.


Human Performance is available now

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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