Parts & Labor Hammer It Out Again
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email
Back in the mid-mid-oughties, I somehow landed on Jagjaguwar’s mailing list and a subsequent flood of indie rabblerockaroll landed in my mailbox from them about every other week or so from then on. There were too many releases to remember, but Brooklyn’s noisy Parts & Labor got my attention, in part because of the attractiveness of their working-class handle, but mostly because on 2006’s “Stay Afraid” their excellent clamor cut right through the clutter. The next year, one of the Parts was lost but two more were found when they finally settled on drummer Joe Wong and added the beguiling Sarah Lipstate to join founding member Dan Friel on guitars. This newly altered lineup released Receivers, an elpee that popped out a standout track called “Little Ones,” which lifts up off the ground like a college anthem and ends up in what sounds like a traffic snarl at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
This time around, the only Parts remaining are Friel, co-founding member B.J. Warshaw (he’s on the bass) and Wong. Ms. Lipstate left ‘em, but you won’t notice because yer ears can’t see. If they could, you would… she was a flower among, uh… potatoes, much cuter than the doods in this band, but that’s another matter. As in the past, Parts & Labor saturate noise with melody, not unlike the precision chaos of a controlled demolition. Warshaw’s keyboards make electronic bleeps and blorps that often sound like Warshaw is on the winning side of a tickle fight with R2D2. Joe Wong’s seismic powerfills are the standout feature, second only (maybe) to the feel of these songs. If you happen pick this record up (and you should) forget about the guys being from Brooklyn. Parts & Labor somehow sound as if they are from the northern UK, and not just when they’re crashing bagpipes, either. It’s in the voices and delivery of Friel and Warshaw, and the way that they sing together. There’s no brogue, so don’t listen for that, but there is this sweeping epic visual that rises up when their music hits the earbones, tricking yer brain into thinking you can smell the sea in the air as you stand high upon the eastern cliffs of the Scottish coast, peeking out over the edge with tingly feet, just enough to watch the waves smash themselves endlessly into the rocks below. Your heart pounds and you feel so small but… integrated into it all somehow.
Then you come back to reality and remember it’s just rock. Music does that sometimes.