Concert: Parkay Quarts

By Rhett Guenthner

Parkay Quarts took the stage at a sold-out DC9 on November 6 as “more of a Parquet Courts cover band,” frontman Andrew Savage described while the smell of fresh bread wafted through the air for some reason.

The difference between Parquet Courts and Parkay Quarts is essentially the lineup. Savage and guitarist Austin Brown are in both groups while the bassist and drummer positions get switched out for Parkay Quarts. The second Parkay Quarts release came out the week following the show, the darker, experimental LP Content Nausea. Featuring covers of The 13th Floor Elevators and Nancy Sinatra, the record is Savage and Brown’s second of the year, following spring’s Sunbathing Animal under the Parquet Courts name. It also shows them continuing further in the direction Animal started. Feedback is used more, as well as periods of repeated rhythms and wild, electronic distortion. Savage also leans even more towards his nearly monotone, Lou Reed-like vocals.

Despite having a whole new record’s worth of material to pull from, they chose to mostly play Sunbathing Animal and Light Up Gold tracks, keeping it light. They launched into a set full of fast, loud songs that had some on the verge of moshing through “Black and White,” “Vienna II,” and “Master of My Craft.” Despite having some gear problems that caused Savage to play a Squier and an ornately designed Telecaster he borrowed from local opener People’s Drug, the whole band was perfect at hitting all the abrupt stops in tracks like “Vienna II” and “Borrowed Time” that last just quite long enough for people to start cheering, only to be cut off by the band continuing.

Instead of saying the usual, “We love you, (insert city name here),” Savage told the crowd that Richmond and Baltimore had been saying some awful things about D.C., but he then reassured the crowd, “you’re not so bad.”

The band did get around to some slower stuff throughout the set. They covered 13th Floor Elevators’ “Slide Machine” and played “Dear Ramona,” which Brown chose to dedicate to “Obama for getting re-elected on Tuesday.” Near the end, they played “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth,” the closing track to Content Nausea, which shows the band in a whole new light. The six-and-a-half-minute track sprawls with a dark, strumming guitar as Savage calmly tells a cryptic story that sounds like a composed retelling of a tense, moody western. Likely as a result of gear problems, Brown was without a slide, so he used an extra pedal for his lead guitar parts. He soon finished his beer and rubbed a sticker off so he could have something a bit less unwieldy for his meticulous plucking. The song builds into a clash of Savage’s vocals and the rest of the band as he repeatedly screams, “It was the uncast shadow/ Of a southern myth.”

Following “Southern Myth,” they chugged out the even-longer “Instant Disassembly” before finishing the show with “Light Up Gold” and “Sunbathing Animal.” No encore. Some people started to cheer to try and get them back quickly, but soon most of the crowd just stood there in the dark waiting to see if the band would come back, but content enough with the set filled with many of their best songs, that it would be perfectly fine to end the show.

Album Review: Foxy Shazam – GONZO

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Foxy Shazam

 

GONZO

 

Self-Released, April 02 2014

 
 
 
 
 

Reviewed by Jon Howard

Last Fall, two years after the release of The Church of Rock and Roll, Foxy Shazam suddenly announced that they were in the process of recording a new album.  Shortly after, the band announced that they had completed said new album.  Then, months of silence. Without warning, Foxy Shazam surprised everyone by announcing on April 2nd that not only had they named their new album “GONZO”, but that it was now available to download for free on their website.  Fans eagerly downloaded the new album, wondering how it might expand on the bombastic sound of The Church of Rock and Roll and Foxy Shazam.  Simply put, GONZO doesn’t, and comes away much better for it.

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Album Review: Foster the People – Supermodel

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Foster the People

 

Supermodel

 

Columbia Records, March 14 2014

 
 
 
 
 

Reviewed by Jon Howard

Looking back at 2011, it really does seem as though indie pop sensation Foster the People came out of nowhere. Despite having been released nearly year earlier, their single “Pumped Up Kicks” suddenly gained massive popularity, crossing over from indie and alternative circles into mainstream radio airplay. By late May, “Pumped Up Kicks” had gone viral, garnering so much attention that Foster the People’s debut album Torches was able to break into the top ten of the Billboard 200, sitting comfortably at #8. Now Foster the People have finally released their long awaited sophomore album, Supermodel.

After the enormous success of Torches, Foster the People largely decided to take a different approach while writing and recording Supermodel. The album takes a step away from Torches’ synthesizer-heavy production for something a little more worldly. Opening track “Are You What You Want to Be” is Foster the People gone afrobeat. It’s a bold new direction for the band, but they should be careful not to tread too close to Vampire Weekend’s territory, or Foster the People could find itself on the losing side of many comparisons. Lead single “Coming of Age” is a definite high point of Supermodel, and it’s less than a coincidence that the song is probably the most similar on the album to their material on Torches. “Pseudologia Fantastica” shows what happens when Foster the People explores MGMT-style psychedelia, while also drawing influence from 1990s shoegaze outfit My Bloody Valentine. Meanwhile, “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon” is about as close to grunge as a band like Foster the People can get, featuring crunchy guitars and shouted lyrics like “You’ll never be whole / Until you lose control / And stop drinking the wine that’s been dripping / From lips of the gluttons and envying their bloody teeth”. Supermodel largely abandons the sound of Torches, instead looking to other bands for influence while adding in a bit of Foster the People’s own flavor.

Though it may take some time to grow on you, Supermodel is certainly a good album. However, Foster the People have begun to tread dangerous waters. The band has expanded their sound beyond what we have grown to expect from them, a la Torches, but rather than evolve naturally they have tried to mimic their contemporary peers. By choosing to incorporate outside styles instead of developing its own, Foster the People have put themselves in danger of losing their own identity and falling behind the pack. Their new strategy has worked moderately well on Supermodel, but for their next album, Foster the People would do much better by looking inward rather than outward.

Recommended Tracks: “Are You What You Want to Be”, “Coming of Age”, “Pseudologia Fantastica”, “Best Friend”




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Album Review: Pharrell – Girl

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Pharrell

 

Girl

 

Columbia Records, March 03 2014

 
 
 
 
 

by Adam Weidemann

Pharrell had his hands on two of the biggest pop songs of 2013, but he has had a long and accomplished musical career. Girl is a departure from his hip hop production with The Neptunes, yet Pharrell has never been too distant from pop. He’s sung choruses in a pleasant falsetto (“Beautiful”, “Frontin”) and rapped on pop songs (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”), he even released a mixtape before his first album In My Mind. Girl capitalizes on his recent success as a pop singer with some very catchy tunes, including the biggest song in America right now and the album’s first single, “Happy”.

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Album Review: Real Estate – Atlas

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Real Estate

 

Atlas

 

Mexican Summer, March 04 2014

 
 
 
 
 

Reviewed by Jon Howard

Three years after their impeccable sophomore release Days, indie rock outfit Real Estate return with the highly anticipated Atlas. Atlas sees the band leave behind the more cheerful sound of their previous release in favor of something a little darker. Fast approaching his 30s and with his first child on the way, lead singer Martin Courtney finds the dreamlike, carefree Days of his youth coming to an end. Try as he might to look towards the future with the same optimism, he feels helpless and uncertain of what’s to come.

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Concert: Graham Colton w/ Cumulus

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by Jon Howard

 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect heading into Jammin Java to see Graham Colton play for his local fans.  Between my lack of knowledge about the musician and my unfamiliarity with the venue itself (I apologize for my ignorance of the world around me), I walked into Jammin Java completely blind. I’m glad to tell you that my eyes were certainly opened wide before the night ended.

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Album Review: Temples – Sun Structures

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Temples

 

Sun Structures

 

Heavenly Recordings, February 10 2014

 
 
 
 
 

Reviewed by Jon Howard

If you had tried to tell me a few years ago that psychedelic rock was about to make a massive comeback, I probably would have laughed and told you to keep dreaming. Of course, there were a few lone signs of what was to come, most notably MGMT’s sophomore album Congratulations, in which they abandoned synthpop in favor of psychedelic surf rock.  Seemingly out of nowhere, psychedelic artists like Tame Impala and Foxygen began to gain large followings, while established artists began to add more experimental elements to their music.  By 2013, psychedelic rock had become one of the biggest non-pop music genres.  Thanks to the recent popularity of their musical style, the newly formed Temples were able to hit the ground not running, but sprinting. Already set to begin their first headlining tour, Temples also just released their debut album Sun Structures for the masses.

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