I never thought that it would come to this, but it seems that droning, feedback-laden guitar rock – of the kind that Lou Reed patented in the waning 1960’s – has become something of a rarity. The world moves on, of course, and the dozens of bands that were formed because someone stumbled across a Velvet Underground album have flourished and run their course. It is the nature of culture. We are dominated now by a different set of collective musical gestures. And that’s ok, because contrary to the nostalgia narrative, the culture was not objectively better when everyone sounded like they’d stumbled upon a Velvet Underground album. If nothing else, now it actually feels like a treat again to hear someone who has mastered that particular droning laissez faire. Maybe one day kids stumbling upon Parquet Courts records will be motivated to start yet another garage rock cycle.
If you’re looking for some really good Fake Velvet Underground, look no further. Parquet Courts are the very best Fake Velvet Underground. Is this one of those underhanded compliments that’s actually an insult? No, it’s actually a real compliment, but I understand why you would ask that. Bands that try to emulate the Velvet Underground -just like would-be emulators of Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and other iconic musicians – are for the most part terrible, derivative, generic, cliche-ridden toothless imitators with no concept of what made the originals great in the first place. But I genuinely like Parquet Courts. They do remind me of the Velvet Underground, but they don’t sound like that’s the only reason they exist. I like the droning quality they’ve got going on; it’s sexy and seems like it would be great for doing some heroin. The whole atonal thing is so hard to pull off properly! Obviously, these guys are way dumber than the Velvets; their best known song is about shopping for snacks. Still, give them credit; there’s almost nothing trickier to pull off than evoking an iconic predecessor and yet still sounding like something original. Plus, they remind me of old flames who know way more about this punk rock thing than I do. Hallo, fuckboy.