"ANYTHING THAT does not come from tradition is plagiarism," declared the Catalan surrealist Salvador Dalí. It is a willfully contradictory, deliberately oxymoronic statement, but it does get to the heart of New York indie-rockers Parquet Courts.
In essence, Dalí's statement means that, no matter how original something is, it did not spring from nowhere, it always has a precendent, and Parquet Courts - Andrew Savage, Austin Brown, Sean Yeaton, and Max Savage - who play the Róisín Dubh on Wednesday September 2 at 9pm, have never been shy about their determination to claim a place in NYC's formidable rock lineage.
As Pitchfork said: "Parquet Courts resemble a band that carries qualities that people have associated with New York bands of years past - structural slackness paired with paranoid energy, topped off with a sense of wit that exudes book-smarts as much as it smacks of smart-assedness."
It comes as no surprise then that the Kings of New York, The Velvet Underground, are a profound influence on the Brooklyn quartet. Yet Parquet Courts are not just in thrall to New York, they also adore a California band who sit high atop indie-rock royalty - Pavement.
One note from the opening riff of ‘Dear Ramona’ - from Parquet Courts highly impressive, most recent album Sunbathing Animal, and one word from vocalist Andrew Savage, and it all just screams Steven Malkmus, while the ghost of Lou Reed is clearly audible (a man who also haunted Malkmus’s own writing and vocal delivery ), and both The Velvet Underground and Pavement can be heard in ‘Raw Milk’ and the epic ‘Instant Disassembly’.
Not since The Frames’ ‘Pavement Tune’ and the album Dance The Devil have a band so unashamedly and transparently worn their Malkmus & Co influence on their sleeve. Yet there is a difference. The Frames’ trick was to sell alternative rock styles to an unsuspecting mainstream, making themselves appear ‘edgy’ and ahead of the curve by doing so. Hard core indie fans saw through it. Pavement’s heyday was 1992 to 1997. Dance The Devil was released in 1999, the year Pavement originally called it a day.
Parquet Courts, however, are among a generation of bands for whom 1990s are a rich source of influence. They are also death-before-dishonour indie, making no concession to mainstream tastes with their raucous, energetic, and rowdy garage rock, and cryptic, clever lyrics. As Andrew Savage told Pitchfork: “We’re an anti-reverb band" - and all the better for it as the thumping punk meets sixties r’n’b of ‘Black & White’ and the frantic, mile-a-minute rhythms 'Sunbathing Animal' show:
There is nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve. In spite of his boundless originality, Captain Beefheart never outgrew his vocal indebtedness to Howlin' Wolf. The key is how those influences are used, and there is plenty in Parquet Courts music - which contains punk, garage, r'n'b, indie, post-punk, and psychedelia, within a cohesive, overall sound - showing that this is a band not constricted by its influences, but encouraged to embrace all facts of alternative music - but, importantly, within their own terms. It all amounts to more than enough to intrigue the ears and command respect for Parquet Courts as being a front rank indie band of a very high calibre.
Tickets are available at www.roisindubh.net, the Ticket Desk at OMG Zhivago, Shop Street, and The Róisín Dubh.