Read on esquire.com
The vast majority of us suffer from some form of content nausea, either minor or debilitating. Blame slow news days and trending topics that don’t deserve to be trending. In many cases, they don’t deserve to be topics. Content nausea creeps in the first day you realize the line between being “on” and “off” the Internet has vanished from your life—gone at the speed of an upswipe. It’s real and it’s awful.
Content Nausea is also the brilliant title of the second album this year from the furious mind of 28-year-old Andrew Savage.
Savage is the lead singer and songwriter of Parquet Courts, a literate garage-punk band Savage founded with his college buddy Austin Brown. The Brooklyn-via-Texas duo, with bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage (Andrew’s little brother), already released one of 2014’s great records, Sunbathing Animal, in early June. That album, the band’s second full-length in as many years, was a step forward from 2013’s Light Up Gold, an unpolished hit that turned indie rock legends far and wide into fans (Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, for one).
Today, five months and change after June’s “real album” come 12 new songs. They’re more ferocious than the first 13. While Sunbathing was a full band effort, Content is solely the work of Savage and Brown. The duo thusly tweaked the project name from Parquet Courts to Parkay Quarts (not unlike what Malkmus did with Pavement and Silver Jews). All of that is in the weeds; none of it really matters. But these 12 songs do, and they’re the furthest thing from throwaway or “bonus.” Savage had ideas brewing in his mop-topped head and he needed a vehicle to get them out. In this case, it was a two-week sprint on a four-track mixer with Brown and some friends.
Savage had more content, and that more content was about more content.
From the title track:
Content, that’s what you call it / An infant screaming in every room in your gut / The best of modern intention / But best left unattended / How gathered the pixels and the dust of the digital age to our being / With what do I wash? / Put on some music / My friend walks the same path every day / Stoop to stairwell / Cognizance to coma / And know him best he can / An inconvenient reality / The consequential chore that unfolds in the naked sprint from screen to screen / Scrolling binary ghettos to escape…
And that’s two minutes into the second song.
Savage articulates what so many artists have been trying to say all year, and for the past few years. It’s a conversation that Spike Jonze seized last year with Her, and it’s one that will continue well into the future. The phones in our pockets and next to our pillows are bigger, brighter, clearer, and more intrusive than they were six months ago. Every day, the Internet and its social networks grow deeper and more damning in their sheer vastness. And the content portal of choice, Apple’s iPhone 6, is sold out in most markets with a weeks-long waiting list.
There’s more content than there was five minutes ago, and our appetite is more insatiable than it was five minutes ago. Why?
I saw Parquet Courts at JFK airport in August 2013. We were on the same flight to Portland, the late Friday night flight, the cheap one. They were playing the Pickathon Music Festival that weekend and I was attending it. Savage wore a stained, ripped T-shirt and baggy khaki pants. I watched as he and his bandmates threw their guitars into the overhead compartment like any other piece of luggage. I was going to tweet something short and dumb about running into them, but I realized they didn’t have a Twitter account. Nor did they have an official Facebook page. I put my phone away and pulled out a magazine.
Savage was reading a Philip K. Dick book. It was a small paperback with sun-faded golden pages. He looked intense, but there was no glowing screen anywhere in sight. He seemed happy.