Off the Shelf–WIDE AWAKE! by Parquet Courts

A quick preface from the editor:

At WKDU we receive new music every week from a huge variety of labels. We keep all of our new releases in our main control room (the room out of which our DJs do their thing) on our “New Music Shelf”.  Our DJs pull from this shelf quite often, because our goal is to serve you the freshest underground cuts–FDA certified 100% organic, grass-fed, farm to table, FRESH. With “Off the Shelf”, our goal is to dive deeper than ever into our “New Music Shelf” favorites, and to share our thoughts with our community. Here’s hoping we inspire you to check out something NEW.

Wide Awake

By Matt Squires

Parquet Courts’ new album, Wide Awake!, is a diverse collection of raw rock and rolls sounds, familiar to the American ear, yet unique and refreshing. The production is minimalistic, to focus the listener on the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the songs, which are undeniably catchy. The vocals are raw with minor imperfections as if performed in a live setting.

“Total Football” kicks off the album with a classic rock style sharp slow chord progression. Soon the beat speeds up and the bass riff kicks, forcing the listener to bounce back and forth, a feeling used many times on this album including, “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and “Extinction”. Growly vocals are introduced, seemingly untrained and raw, their voices fit the aesthetic perfectly. This riveting intro song ends like the streets of Philadelphia after the 2018 super bowl, “F___ Tom Brady!!”.

“Violence” shows the more serious side of this album. Smooth groovy rhythms and catchy riffs over a yelling monologue until coming in with the chorus “violence is daily life.” Parquet Courts makes their way around the genre spectrum while maintaining the same production aesthetic with the slowed jam, “before the water gets too high”.  The repeating riff is memorizing and the organ-sounding synth chords hold the song together.

Next stop on this journey is a flashback to 90s alternative rock. Sounding like Pavements “Range Life”, “Mardi Gras Beads” takes the album to very familiar place. The smooth lush reverb-filled verse contrasts with the rigid power chords that come in the chorus creating a rich texture. “Almost had to start a fight” channels the bands Proto-Punk aesthetic with riffs sounding like MC5, the vocals match the rhythm to create a concrete, energetic jam. Merging into “In and out of Patience” with the phrase “If it stops i’m having a bad dream”, the pattern changes, putting another involuntary step in the foot of the listener.

The aptly named, “Freebird 2”, lives up to its name talking about drugs and getting older with pentatonic blues scales. The title song, “Wide Awake” combines a groovy bass riff with a dance party vibe. The use of Auxiliary percussion on this track makes it stand out from the others. A straight rhythm blues jam ends the album out with a piano melody doubling the vocals, making for an upbeat vibe. The chord progression is a mixture of simple chords and unusually dissonant chords that give an excellent texture to this familiar groove.

Parquet Courts have maintained their progressive classic rock style. Innovative yet so familiar and easy to latch on to, this album is an instant classic filled with songs that capture the last 50 years of rock music. 

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