Parking Lot Bandits are a Pittsburgh folk-punk quartet whose EP, Some Call It Utopia, is due for release later this month.
“Cashin’ Out,” the first single released from Some Call It Utopia, is a weary, gray flag of not-quite-surrender. Guitarist Jon Ha (backed by the vocals of harpist/ukuleleist Natasha) snarls his way through a litany of ills relating both to himself and to his relationships with other people; voices in his head may want him dead, but he sneers, “I’ll be damned if I oblige them,” so defiantly that you can’t help but root for the guy. Right on cue, after Ha’s “Fuck you, suicidal thoughts” moment, the music shifts from a skeletal, seasick waltz to a rousing hootenanny led by some excellent finger pickin’ from the group’s banjoist, Anise. Ha’s lyrics stay dark despite the uptick in tempo; it’s getting hard for him to breathe, his nightmares keep him awake, and he can’t trust other people. Still he fights, even though “God has never answered, so I put him on a shelf.” Looks like Ha’s going it alone, but at least he’s going; as the song reverts back to its 3/4 sway, Ha, joined by his bandmates, lets out a series of ragged, cathartic screams. He may not have a god to help him along, but he’s got the rest of the Parking Lot Bandits, so maybe he isn’t alone after all.