Parquet Courts from Texas to NY find an outlet on the dance floor


The Parquet Courts group is, from left to right, Sean Yeaton, Austin Brown, Andrew Savage and Max Savage.

Photo: Pooneh Ghana

As so often happens with albums – at least those created by musicians who still believe in a record as a set of sequentially connected songs – the closing song from Parquet Courts’ seventh LP is sort of a key to the music that makes it. precedes. “Pulcinella” includes the phrase “I’d rather be stuffed with straw than tin,” obvious advice for “The Wizard of Oz” in which one of the band’s two singer-songwriters, Andrew Savage, lines up. with the intellectual aspirations of the scarecrow inclined to dance on the hesitant movements of the hopes centered on the heart of the iron man. The Scarecrow is clearly part of a tradition of movement that predates the 1939 film.

Pulcinella – a mischievous commedia dell’arte character who rose to prominence centuries ago – does not make a nominal appearance in the Parquet Courts song with a title named after him. But the character nonetheless looms over Parquet Court’s new album “Sympathy for Life”, an invigorating new offshoot of the tree this alluring band from Texas to New York has cultivated over the past decade.

The album’s meaningful cover also features Pulcinella depicted on a vase. Obviously, the group wanted to take stock of art and entertainment and, more specifically, the restorative notion of dance and the creation of low-heat chaos.

“All of our records, we make them in a form that you’re supposed to listen to from start to finish,” says Beaumont native Austin Brown, one of the band’s two songwriter-guitarists. “We take care of the order. And this album was specifically inspired by dance music. And community participation in music. The ways we share and present it. I like to think of ‘Pulcinella’ as the comedown of the party. A soft landing after an evening of dancing.

Dance songs and dance albums have been created since music became a commodity through the release of singles and albums. But the idea of ​​a philosophical dance party during tough times is a rarer creature. Prince hit it with “1999” and radio television did it with “Dear Science” as well. After working a vein of heavy lyrical music that, on the surface, felt aligned with the punk garage, Parquet Courts pivoted to the dance floor. If that sounds like a dramatic interruption, it isn’t. “Sympathy for Life”, true to its title, speaks of interactivity.

Parquet Courts has been in Brooklyn, New York for years, although the group’s roots are in Texas. Brown grew up in Beaumont. He and Savage met while they were students at the University of North Texas. They formed a band and gained attention with the second album “Light Up Gold”, which gained national attention for its clever approach to garage-punk.

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The band members moved from Texas to New York and built a following for their sound, which the band gently pushed from LP to EP for a decade. Three years ago, Parquet Courts offered “Wide Awake! »- an album with three dancing figures on the cover. The album wasn’t exactly festive, however.

“There was an angry tone,” says Brown. “It was loud and distorted. Shouts and rants and things like that. I felt like it wasn’t who I am. This is not how I feel. The idea of ​​an aggressive and angry rock band didn’t appeal to me.

Shortly after the tour ended, the band members reunited in New York City during a pandemic shutdown. When the city slowly opened up, Brown wanted to attend some old-fashioned dance events. He heard beats that represented artists from across the United States and around the world. He and Savage pondered how to do in the 21st century what bands like Talking Heads and Primal Scream did in the 20th century: create music classified as rock ‘n roll that nonetheless offers rhythmic fuel to shake a leg.

Perhaps Pulcinella provided a stirring agent in this process. But Brown sees the Italian puppet character as something else. Despite Pulcinella’s traditional status as an agent of chaos, the group viewed the character more as an advocate for connection.

“In the broadest sense, we envisioned creating music that could make people think more of the community,” he says. “Think about the ways we interact in the world around us. To experience things and live lives, and also to think about the basis of a healthy community.

  • André Dansby

    Andrew Dansby covers culture and entertainment, both local and national, for the Houston Chronicle. He arrived at The Chronicle in 2004 from Rolling Stone, where he spent five years writing about music. Previously, he had spent five years in book publishing, working with publisher George RR Martin on the first two books in the series that would become “Game of Thrones” on television. images you have never seen. He has written for Rolling Stone, American Songwriter, Texas Music, Playboy, and other publications.

    Andrew doesn’t like monkeys, dolphins and the outdoors.

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