My favorite band of 2014 kind of snuck up on me. I just realized that I had somehow been listening to their album on repeat for a while, which is strange because I can almost never get all the way through a whole album without losing interest. The band in question is Parkay Quarts and their album is titled Content Nausea.
Funnily enough their name is actually a homonym of the other band that they are all in together, the Parquet Courts. And the music also sounds essentially the same. I have no idea why they chose to release this album under a different name honestly. But it is thematically a bit different I guess. It seems as though they were willing to get a bit more experimental. A few of the tracks are spoken word, rather than sung.
Although I should mention here that Andrew Savage, guitarist and lead vocalist does not sing as much as... moan? His voice is low and flat and never actually in tune; he just sort of mumbles and slurs and half-shouts his way through each song. The guitars sound cheap, sometimes shrill, sometimes wavering to find the right key. The melodies are often hooky but repetitive and somehow vaguely familiar, probably ripped off from some song you've heard before.
But somehow, it's all just so satisfying; I feel it settle right in my gut somewhere. And I find the repetition doesn't bother me. Unlike the Steve Reich sort of electronic drone, this music is very human. And this is also all vaguely calculated. The music is actually well produced; it’s meant to sound cheap, but there are moments where a bit of craft shines through, like the horn section in “Pretty Machines”:
It all combines into a blend of surf-rock, southern twang and grungy, sludgy distortion and a punkish disregard for you know, trying to sound good. A little bit of Ennio Morricone meets Fugazi with a couple of Stephen Malkmus guitar solos thrown in there. It is in turns silly but dark, shrill but meditative. And the covers (13th Floor Elevators' "Slide Machine" and Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'") are pretty hilarious, "Boots" especially.
I'm also a big fan of their lyrics. Thematically, most songs seems to pose some argument against modernity. But at the same time, songs like “Slide Machine” or “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth” (what a kickass name right?) seem to characterize this southern world as both laughably behind the times, seemingly almost removed from the rest of the world, and also violent. They seem to be caught somewhere in the middle, unable to proceed because of the inherent shallowness of modern culture, but with nothing good to fall or look back on.
“The Map” exemplifies this - a narrator goes to a doctor looking for a cure for his anxiety. The doctor maps out all of the narrator’s anxieties but rather than explaining anything, the narrator ends up more confused. And then it ends.
It isn't the kind of music everyone enjoys. But I kind of like that. They're frustrated and trying to be cool but they're also lazy, lethargic and lackadaisical about it. Frustrated but also kind of mellow. So if you're into sort of apathetic punk, give them a try.