It’s been a very chill week workout-wise thanks to a busy work schedule and the local pools being closed for cleaning. Aside from a few fun cycles with HRH and one craptacular hill run on Tuesday (click HERE), I’ve done little else. Of course, I am sweeping the 100k Big Move ride tomorrow so that will definitely up the mileage somewhat. Still, I wanted to do a few light workouts today beginning with this very easy 6k run despite it being muggy as all get up outside. In order to get through it, I’m counting on the ‘Content Nausea‘ album by Parquet Courts to keep me motivated.
This album (their 4th) was released back in Novemeber of 2014, under the name Parkay Quarts. It was recorded solely by bandmates Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, just six months after its predecessor, ‘Sunbathing Animal‘. Bass guitarist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage were absent from the recording process for the album due to Yeaton starting a family and Savage focusing on a mathematics degree.
Okay, I guess you’re forgiven guys.
“Content” has become a buzzword in recent years. Articles, videos, music, and art all are grouped in under this bland yet all-encompassing term. There’s a huge push to curate “great content” within businesses and publications, naïve to the absurdity of that term. Blog fodder like “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” and “20 Gifs Only Introverts Will Understand” are seared into our consciousness thanks to our ever-present Facebook news feeds.
Fortunately, the ‘Content‘ on this album is more forgiving and enjoyable.
The band’s bitterness and discontent is firmly laid out on the album’s title track. Coming out of the stress-inducing opener, ‘Everyday It Starts‘, the song rushes in with chugging guitars and rapid drums. The lyrics feel like excerpts out of a novel, and ‘Content Nausea‘ serves as the album’s exposition. ‘Pretty Machines‘ and ‘Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth‘ also pretty slick tunes. Throughout them all, you’ll inevitably hear elements of the the B-52’s, Pavement, Talking Heads, and an entire history of bands who took the nervous energy of early rock and roll and launched it into more oblique orbits.
Song after song, Savage and Brown bark their anxieties about modern life with enough wit to suggest that they’re aware of the convention and enough passion to suggest that they feel those anxieties anyhow. “This year it became harder to be tender/ Harder and harder to remember/ Meeting a friend/ Writing a letter/ Being lost/ Antique ritual/ All lost to the ceremony of progress,” Savage says on the title track, his voice flat and intense, the beat poet unspooling his revelations over free jazz. And then comes the caveat: “Ignore this part, it’s an advertisement/ These people are famous, I’d trust ’em!”
‘Content Nausea’ may be the easier listen than it’s predecessor, in part because it seems less ambitious. Four of its tracks are around a minute long; one is a really cool cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made For Walkin’‘ (itself a punk staple as ubiquitous as the safety pin); one (The 13th Floor Elevator’s ‘Slide Machine‘) is basically spoken word over noise – a reminder that for all the band’s nervous intensity, they’re basically bookworms. As a whole, the album lacks the organization and flow of previous releases, but I highly doubt that that’s what they were aiming for. After all, these guys have never seemed too concerned with making a sprawling artistic statement; they’re just a bunch of record collecting guitar nerds who happen to write some really fucking good songs!
I don’t know why I do it. Why do I wait for the worst part of the day to go running? Why is my internal run meter permanently fixed at high noon or ‘Suffer-o-clock”? The humidity today was outrageous, hence there was no terribly quick pace ever established through my series of decreased intervals today. I’m keeping these intervals short for the time being for this very reason so that once the cooler autumn weather kicks in, hopefully, I will be able to go a bit longer and further. Right now, I’m just giving ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning a brief turning over so they remember what this whole running thing is, while burning some added calories and – of course – checking out new music.