Heart of Gold – The Harlers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

27858290_1987478481505007_4204404359649383129_nIt’s been great watching The Harlers evolve and grow, from a basic two-piece of drums and guitar, through various sound enhancing, multi-amp, sonic manoeuvring to finally settle on the classic three-piece line up that they have now become. And whilst the bands delivery may have been subject to a few changes, the music that they deliver has stayed very much on focus – in your face, incendiary, blues-infused, garage rock.

Like many bands in the broad alt-rock genre that is today’s rock’n’roll weapon of choice The Harlers reference some classic bands, everything from modern purveyors such as Royal Blood, through such obscurities as Burning Tree and iconic outfits such as Cream, and a whole host of scuzzy, outsider guitar slingers from the golden age. Heart of Gold sees them ploughing the same rock furrow, not every band has to break down barriers or explore new sonic playgrounds but neither is this merely re-inventing the wheel either. The Harlers are torch bearers, the sound of classic rock and roll being carried through to a modern audience, and it is safe to say that they do it better than most.

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Stoned to Death – Fox and The Law (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

thIf I’m honest I was at their gig mainly to catch support act The Greasy Slicks, a band that seemed to channel that same retro-rock/blues collision that Burning Tree did so well. But even on a cold, Monday night in the parochial backwaters of a West Country railway town, Swindon to be exact, music can still remind you it pays to keep delving into dark corners in search of your next favourite band. The fact that even in my impoverished state I came away clutching a handful of merchandise, including a vinyl album not even by them, says something about how much of a musical high I was on.

 

Recently I have been trying to write one line reviews in my head whilst watching live bands, theirs went something along the lines of “Paul Westerberg being clubbed to death in a back alley by The MC5,” and I think as a soundbite that tells you all you need to know. But let me expand.

 

This is blues ramped up and rocked out and put through the blender. It’s garage rock that tips its hat more to The Sonics  than Sonic Youth. It’s punk by people who actually bothered to learn their craft. And they learnt it well. As a live outfit they look the part. To us Brits, this is what a band from the American underground should look like. Part truck stop grime, part bohemian mystique, part struggling muso, part street corner hustler. And not only do they look the part, they sound it too and thankfully the raw fury of their live show is captured on this album.

 

Okay, they aren’t reinventing the wheel and you may say that you have heard this all done before. Maybe, but I would argue that you haven’t heard it done as well as this before. One of my yardsticks for judging music from this noisy end of the spectrum is to ask myself “ What would Lester Bangs think?” I reckon he would love it…or not, you could never tell with that fickle old bastard.

 

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