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Parquet Courts - Wide Awaaaaake!

  • Published in Albums

Increasingly I can't be bothered downloading albums, knowing that they'll never be unearthed again after they eventually drop off my Foobar playlist. Rare too is the upcoming album which excites me upon announcement of a release date & the possibility of hearing it in advance so as to lay down my opinion of it here. Wide Awaaaaake!, however, did just that and it's a must as far as the downloading goes, such is the quality of the material it contains. Everything you expect from a Parquet Courts release is right here.

The band's last release with some Italian bloke barely registered with me but equally it didn't have me feeling that they'd lost the plot and embraced a whole new musical direction. They've experimented before and returned refreshed after all. With the release of 'Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience' at the end of February they showed that they'd not dispensed with their core post-punk energy and aggression and that boded well for the forthcoming album.

Suffice to say then that, having had the stream/download for a month prior to the release date, Wide Awaaaaake! has been played to death. It's the kind of album wherein you think that, if the band had a grand plan when they started out then this contains the fruit of that plan's culmination. All the jerky, asinine, rampaging, cheeky, singalong, thoughtful and other elements of their output to date are perfectly captured in its thirteen tracks.

Coming into summer as we (hopefully) are now at time of publishing this is the sort of upbeat and infectious album you want to have on all the time and one which will easily last you past the season and on into months to come and probably until they make something even better next time around. Clearly a band at the top of their game.

Wide Awaaaaake! is available from Rough Trade.


ANOHNI - Paradise EP

  • Published in Singles


Buried deep in the concluding moments of Paradise, the voice of an unidentified woman asks: “Everything is going upside down. How are we going to work on it, work on it to make it better? All of us.” Before we reach her words of warning, we have encountered an ominous funeral march intro, a dystopian vision of hell, an impassioned rant directed at Christians and a lot of other people, a song in which a mother repudiates her own child, a song about hating God and, just to finish it off, an ecological apocalypse. It is fair to say that ANOHNI has taken up where she left off with Hopelessness, confronting the ills of the new, fragmented, hate-driven politics head on.

Paradise, consisting of six songs, showcases the remarkable, uplifting confidence of the last year’s acclaimed Hopelessness. Transformed in a new identity, the former Antony Hegarty became a prophet - her commanding voice searing and impossible to ignore on songs such as ‘Drone Bomb Me’. Paradise is a coda, but no throwaway extras release. A carefully assembled set of songs creates a different atmosphere to its parent album, with Daniel Lopatin joined on production by Hudson Mohawke to add a new level of clubby bounce to the pitch dark subject matter.

‘In My Dreams’ opens with rushing winds, a wistful solo organ melody and massed harmonies, but this proves to be a decoy. The organ fades and the big, club beats of title track ‘Paradise’ take its place, full of the snare rolls and Mohawke. Exceptionally listenable, it combines statements of existential despair - “Hopelessness, I’m here not here” - with enormous, stomping beats and a delicate melody, and eerie duck call effects. It is a heady mix. If ‘Paradise’ is the high point, songs such as ‘Jesus Will Kill You’ (pan pipes, a grunty sample, deep bass), ‘You Are My Enemy’ (AHNONI’s purest vocal tones, church organ, door slamming kick drums) and ‘Ricochet’ (the lyric: “I’m going to hate you, my God, for making me this way”, plus steam hammer percussion) deliver the goods. Paradise walks the fine line between eternal Goth gloom and irresistible tunes, while leaving none of society’s ills unaddressed. More power to AHONHI for expressing our collective anger and telling it like it is. 

Paradise is available via Amazon and iTunes. 

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