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Track of the Day: Parkay Quarts – Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth

“It literally gives me goose bumps … I played it over and over.” Lou Reed’s praise of last year’s music-defining moment – the transcendent second bit of ‘New Slaves’ – was a remarkable thing to conceptualise; the naked vindication of my obsession with that soul-discovering minute and 25 seconds mattered more than I’d care to explain. With that said, the highest praise I could offer ‘Uncast Shadow of a Sudden Myth’ is that the crushing ingenuity of its extraordinary final minute is up there with the latter half of ‘New Slaves’ on my list of “Shit I’d Wanna Go Out To”.

Parkay Quarts are Parquet Courts with Andrew Savage and Austin Brown as the force at the helm, rotating the rest of the band like rolling subs and allowing themselves some creative liberties with a homonymic alternate title. The band have repurposed their sound and incisive lyricism for idiosyncratic Americana before, for some of their best work (‘N. Dakota’, ‘Instant Disassembly’), but never before have they aimed for the heights they achieve with this track.

A sombre bass line and organ set a backdrop that’s as sad as it is scenic. Savage candidly offers snippet-perspectives of a hard life, or lives, seemingly taken out of context, but more poignant because of it, reminiscent of the type of lived-experience relatability that crystallised Bob Dylan’s best writing (‘Tangled Up In Blue’ being the obvious ringer). For an expansive five minutes the aural canvas depicts defeat, heartbreak, giving up. But then, from out of nowhere, the band pack everything into the closing minute – a last gasp and grab for life, the gravity and sinking fruitlessness of which only dawns upon the listener when the dust begins to settle and Savage’s bootless yells fade away.

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