Parquet Courts' frontman goes solo with good results on Thawing Dawn.Dull Tools, 2017
7.5 / 10
You should be listening to Parquet Courts, my dudes. The band’s busy schedule has seen a flurry of LPs and EPs in only a few years. Still, the band rarely gets attention when people talk about the Who’s Who of indie-rock or punk. That’s a crime. The band avoids the same kind of critical adoration that someone like Car Seat Headrest or Mac DeMarco or Courtney Barnett gets, but why? I’m convinced it’s all in the delivery. Parquet Courts’ music makes them sound, at a surface level, like a bunch of slacker bros that aren’t serious about much. And maybe there’s some truth to that. Their songs about sweeping up dust, their lead singer’s Randy Newman-esque croon, the grudgingly put together website, their rapid (almost reckless) release schedule. I mean, it’s totally wrong and incorrect, but I can at least see how someone can get the impression.
So it feels like it was only a matter of time before we got some solo releases from Andrew Savage, Parquet Courts’ lead (or co-lead, depending on your viewpoint) singer. The band always credits its music as “written by Parquet Courts” rather than singling out individual authors. It’s hard not to imagine who the primary songwriting influence is on songs sang by Savage rather than those by Austin Brown. You can probably track some similarities between those songs. At least now we know for sure because we have A. Savage’s new solo record, Thawing Dawn.
And here’s the good news and the bad news. If you like the rustling, shit-kicking vibe of “Berlin Got Blurry”, you’ll find more of that on Thawing Dawn. The bad news is that if you liked some of the harder or more experimental works from Parquet Courts’ previous releases, you’ll be left in the cold. It’s just as well, though, because Thawing Dawn makes for a great listen on its own. It’s relaxing, but mood-focused in ways that Parquet Courts hasn’t been. Even though Parquet Courts’ music has never not been personal, Thawing Dawn sounds intimate in new, different ways.
However, none of it is better than its first track, “Buffalo Calf Road”. Here, Savage zooms in on a pivotal moment in American history. While the scope sounds small (i.e., Custer’s stand), Savage paints it in a way that sums of the entirety of western expansion and manifest destiny. The song is majestic, but it’s clearly a solo recording. The wiry guitars of Austin Brown aren’t there, and neither is the excellent plodding bass of Sean Yeaton. But Savage makes up for it with the emphasis on his own lyrics and vocal delivery.
There are several reasons to recommend Thawing Dawn. However, 2017’s crowded release schedule means it likely won’t get the ears it deserves. I could describe more about the album and how much I like it, but here’s the through-line: this is closest thing to a Silver Jews‘ record you’ll get this year.
“Buffalo Calf Road”
“The Ladies of Houston”