The lineup for this year’s 4Knots Music Festival–the Village Voice‘s free, all-day outdoor summer music extravaganza at the South Street Seaport (Pier 17) on June 29–is beginning to take shape. We’ve just booked a few big-name acts we’re completely thrilled about.
Seeeee? In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s what’s what with these four: Kurt Vile’s new album, Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, is the album of year (so far), just ask anyone with ears. We like the Men’s pigfuck-to-Petty transition so much, we put them on the cover back in February. We profiled Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts in all their Wire/Gang of Four splendor in early January, just after they quit their day jobs to pursue music full time. And anytime Marnie Stern sneezes or holds a contest to find a date we write about it, because
we’re obsessed she’s simply one of the most dynamic guitarists in the world and one of the most interesting artists making music in New York City, hands down. Below are some nice things we’ve written about these artists in the past. Enjoy! And see you on June 29 from 1 to 8 p.m. Stay tuned to this space for more band announcements and 4Knots news down the line.
Kurt Vile and the Violators: “During his three-album stint with Matador–Childish Prodigy, Smoke Ring for My Halo, and Wakin’–Vile has stripped away much of the druggy cacophony of his early experimentations, laying bare his gift for melody and songwriting. His music has always had the rare quality of taking on whatever emotion the listener brought to it. Turn on any song on Smoke Ring while feeling melancholy, and you will feel more melancholy. Bring joy to Childish, more joy comes back. Never more so than on Wakin’, Vile’s best to date.”
The Men: “The Men’s first two full-length albums are glorious high-water marks of post-hardcore, new-millennium “pigfuck” (a term coined in our pages by Robert Christgau in a 1987 Pazz & Jop essay), a noise-addict’s speedball of exuberant cacophony topped with a healthy helping of spazz. Just two short years ago, they sought to rewrite indie rock’s playbook using guitars covered in filth, songs with titles like “Shittin’ With the Shah,” and phlegmy coughs as lyrics. They were brazen enough to cop an album title from the Ramones, Leave Home, for a second album that managed to capture the aggression of the Stooges, the canned mechanics of Neu!, the bombast of Touch and Go-era Butthole Surfers, and the pure, unbridled gutter-slime splendor of SST’s apex, put them all in a blender and set that blender on fire. They hit every entry in the index of Michael Azzerad’s book Our Band Could Be Your Life.”
Parquet Courts: “Parquet Courts might be onto something. The band’s full-length debut, Light Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture?), exercises stiff-legged guitars and articulated verses reminiscent of ’70s/’80s groups Wire and Gang of Four. The acerbic lines vocalist and guitarist Andrew Savage and co-frontman Austin Brown spit into the mic about everything from wandering through Queens bodegas (“Stoned and Starving”) to nostalgia’s relationship with mortality (“Borrowed Time”) invoke the old-fashioned idea of punk as something more than music. In conversation, the band jumps fluidly between gun control policies, the quality of shows available on Netflix, and David Foster Wallace’s addiction to television.”
Marnie Stern: “For some artists, solitude is a place to develop clarity and understanding. For Stern, it’s an incubator for life at its most unclear but most intensely felt. Her songs usually start as single finger-tapped guitar lines. Then she layers. Then she cross-hatches. Then she layers again. Eventually, she sings–high-pitched mantras more often than not concerned with whether or not she’ll be able to fully express herself through music at all.
It’s unhinged but meticulous, music as invested in obsessive order as emotional breakdown. Sobbing fits where tears fall in geometric patterns. Tidy packages of fire. Even the finger-tapping is a metaphor: It gives her guitar melodies a continuous, liberated sound, but it’s also a gesture of anxiety. You tap your fingers when you’re waiting. Marnie taps with both hands at once and sings about heartbreak while she does it.”