Album Review: Parasol – Not There

Parasol – Not There

 
I feel like I’ve been living with this record for a long time, but in reality it’s only been a week.  I can’t remember exactly how I heard about Parasol, but I’ve been aware of them for a while, due to an impressive range of splits & single releases over the last year or two. They’re a Boston-based trio and can often be found in the ‘RIYL’ section in articles about bands like All Dogs, Swearin, Waxahatchee, Bratty, Vivian Girls and the like, which is probably what attracted me to them in the first place.  However, when I first stumbled across a stream of their new record “Not There” online I knew I was dealing with something special. Now, in all honestly I’m not a fan of streaming records, I much prefer to buy a record and have it on my ipod so I can really absorb it.  Last week I was finally able to do this with this record thanks to Nervous Nelly Records, who had it available to purchase on their Bandcamp page, which I swiftly did, and I’ve hardly stopped listening to it since.
What Lily, Vicky & Jake from Parasol have delivered here is an incredible collection of anthemic, fuzzy indie gems with a real pop-punk sensibility, laced with emotive lyrics and the occasional sweet guitar solo thrown in for good measure. One of those rare albums where I’m genuinely unable to pick a favourite track.
Similar themes pop up time & time again throughout the record.  Themes such as frustration, anxiety, longing and wanting to belong to a community really permeate through each & every song here.  Guitarist/vocalist Lily moved from Florida to Boston, and listening to the songs on ‘Get There’, you really sense a frustration with trying to live and thrive in the city.
It all kicks off with ‘Feedback Loop’, which starts with the lyrics “I got a mouth full of daggers, and they sit on the tip of my tongue” on a track that seems to be driven by frustration with other bands in their scene and it’s a fantastic opener, but it’s on the second track ‘City Limits’ that I knew I was listening to a truly fantastic band.  This song has ‘anthem’ written all over it, and explores further themes of frustration, although this time it’s with the city of Boston, and trying to create a community and thrive but constantly being knocked back, summed up by the lyrics “we work so hard that we’re barely living.” This is a song that anyone who has moved cities could identify with, especially if they’ve done so in pursuit of a goal or dream, typified by the words “we are a transient people, but we crave a home to make.”
On ‘Edge’ a song that rails against patriarchy in their community, Lily cries “You make us feel so sick / so every day we clench our fists” and it’s another stone-cold anthem that I bet sounds incredible live.  The theme of transience is further explored in ‘At Bay’ which talks about having to consistently deal with friends leaving and having to move on.  This is probably the catchiest song on the album, with the gorgeous refrain of ‘I’m sick, I’m sick of seeing you go’
‘The Tug’ reminds us that Parasol are a punk band at heart, it’s bratty & fast and wrestles with themes of loneliness, anxiety and disconnection.  These themes continue on side 2 of the record on ‘None To Spare’ featuring lyrics like ‘We chase down time to waste it, with none to spare’ although this track deals primarily with missing a loved one, maybe a partner.  This is revisited on the next track ‘Nice To Know’ which talks about being ’scared of the heart break‘ and to public reaction to being in a same-sex relationship with Lily shouting “We don’t look right, They look twice’ over crashing drums and buzzing guitars, another track that I imagine would be a highlight in their live shows.
‘Nowhere To Go’ is up next, a beautiful indie love song, and is probably my favourite track on the record(at the time of writing at least!).  At this point I’m conscious of the fact I’ve talked about “Not There” for a while and not really given any solid indication of what Parasol sound like on this record, instead focussing on the lyrical themes to be found throughout.  Across different bandcamp releases, the tags throw up pop-punk, indie, anarcho-pop, punk, Boston etc which is all well and good, but Parasol are a truly special & unique band.  They are inevitably linked with feminist & queercore bands, as well as all the other excellent female-fronted indie bands currently making a name for themselves but on the strength of “Not There” Parasol deserve to truly rise above all of that.  They are clearly staunchly political and anti-oppressive and have an ethos that they hold dear, but they fuse this with totally relatable themes like longing, disconnection and isolation and, most importantly, incredibly catchy songs(there are SO MANY hooks on this record).  Final track “Laughing Yet” brings to mind Desaparecidos with it’s stuttering intro, and over the course of the preceding 9 tracks there is something for fans of all things punk & indie to enjoy.
Not There is available from 4 different labels: Nervous Nelly, Lauren Records, Square of Opposition & Lost Sound Records
You can read more about Nervous Nelly here
Thanks for reading.
Gary
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 PS If you search for Parasol on Bandcamp, you might stumble across this ep by a totally different band by the same name!  As chance would have it, it’s an awesome emo band, and it’s a free download, check it out.
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Someday We’ll Look Back

I wanted to put up a quick post looking back on my favourite music from 2013, but music moves so fast these days(thanks internet!) that it’s only the second of January and already I’ve heard a new release that’s blown me away and I feel obliged to mention it here.  I’m talking about the new record from Papayér, an emo band from Derby. I’ve been a fan of these guys for a while, following a few earlier ep releases and a split with Nai Harvest, and had heard rumblings that the new stuff they were working on was something special, and it really is. I might get round to reviewing it properly later but for now, you can get it from their bandcamp page, which you can check out below. Worth mentioning that they’re offering some pretty cool purchase bundles as part of the release.

Now, looking back at last year…I decided not to do an ‘End Of Year Albums’ list, for various reasons. Late in 2013 I decided to revisit my top 20 albums of 2012, and found that some of them had completely fallen by the wayside in terms of my regular listening, whereas other records that didn’t make the cut were still being played with regularity over a year later, having grown on me.  That made me realise how futile & arbitrary these lists can sometimes be(don’t get me wrong, I love checking other peoples out) so I decided to go with a kind of mixtape of songs that impacted me throughout the year.  Some are on there because they’re so damn good, others are on there as I might have seen the band live and had a memorable night, while others might have some other kind of significance.  Another thing that struck me when reflecting on my favourite tracks of the year, was how many of them came from Splits, Eps, compilations etc and a list dedicated solely to albums would ostracise these tracks entirely.  A case in point is ‘Hiding’ by Pianos Become the Teeth!  This was released early in 2013 and is without doubt the song I have listened to most, I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it, yet it hasn’t made any end of year lists.  Shame. Check it out below;

I put the mixes up on Spotify & 8tracks, each of which have their advantages(that’s a topic for a separate post!) but I’m already excited about looking back on them this time next year and I wonder if I’ll still regard them as highly.  It is my hope that I will get the chance to see many of these bands live in small rooms over the course of 2014, sadly some of them will no doubt break up in that time, and others will probably release even more new material this year, which will hopefully be of the same standard.  Whatever happens, someday we’ll look back and songs that haven’t even been dreamt up will have defined key moments in our lives, and we’ll come back to them time & time again, which is one of the many reasons I spend so much of my time seeking out new music.

Thanks for reading, I’ve attached 8tracks links below, as the Spotify links wouldn’t embed!

Cheers

Gary