September 19, 2020

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! – Rough Trade

By Kristi Kates | April 7, 2018

The 13-track follow-up to its 2017 Milano teaming with Karen O and Daniele Luppi, Parquet Courts’ latest brings in yet another collaborator, this time in the form of the legendary Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton). First single “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” showcases the group’s first jump away from its trademark sound, as it takes its grungy rock and adds a little more profundity. The band carefully exposes more feelings (gasp!) on tracks like “Normalization” and “Tenderness.” ** ½

George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s – Columbia
Just in time to rev up for summer is the latest from Ezra, a bright, soulful set that makes maximum use of Ezra’s unusually deep vocals and old-school phrasings. Opener “Pretty Shining People” contrasts its wryly cynical lyrics with a bubbly and appealing beat, while more cavernous, brooding tunes like “Only a Human” and “The Beautiful Dream” frame Ezra’s singing in a more spare fashion alongside piano. A collaboration with Swedish sisters First Aid Kit positions their vocals as a prettily opposing counterpoint to Ezra’s own. ***

Jack White – Boarding House Reach – Third Man Records
White’s latest was crafted in a spare apartment purposefully set up with little ambiance to keep the focus on the music, which was demoed primarily on a quarter-inch tape recorder and basic mixer. The result — later recorded at White’s own Nashville studio — is a raw and experimental collection of self-assured, if somewhat bewildering (aka weird), tunes like the electronica-via-Louisiana “Connected by Love,” the (perhaps not surprisingly) repetitive “Over and Over and Over,” and the bongo-inflected “Corporation.” * ½

Preoccupations – New Material – Jagjaguwar
On their third album, these Canadian post-punkers shift and morph the various instruments they play into what at times comes across like completely different sounds, resulting in alternately grainy/futuristic takes on their tunes. Joy Division/Bauhaus influences can be heard in ’80s-inspired tracks like “Antidote” and “Espionage,” while additional tracks like “Disarray” and “Doubt” are ever more ready for darkened dancefloors as Preoccupations pushes further into the emotional via its vocal performances. ***




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