The Harvey Girls

Not only are the Harvey Girls’ Hiram and Melissa very talented AND generous (they give away much of their prolific output to freeloaders like me) AND nice AND interesting, but it turns out they’re just plain good people: Declinate their most recent EP, will cost you some pocket change through the great web-only label SVC, but all proceeds go to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. The songs are as multifaceted and enchanting as ever and the cause is very important, so give a free listen and then buy the rest. It’ll be worth it in more ways than one.
The cover album should be a candid peek into a musician or band’s influences, but far too often it feels like calculated revisionism or, worse, kitsch. I’m reminded of John McRea getting tired of telling people that Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive” wasn’t a joke—people just couldn’t believe that an alt-darling could like disco. And I’m also thinking of Grant Lee Phillips’ recent cover release nineteeneighties, which, as fantastic as his selections and execution are, feels almost too perfect. There’s not a track that would lead your average music reviewer to a question mark or two. Our History is Your Kitsch from one of my favorite DIY groups is also ‘80s covers, and its eclecticism feels much more legit and from the heart. Not only does the title provide a ready-made answer to the inevitable question marks (”Burning for You”? “White Wedding?”), but the selections themselves feel like a true American coming-of-age: a hodgepodge of radio songs (Billy Idol, Blue Oyster Cult), selections raided from parents’ album collections (Alan Parsons Project), and some indie classics (Flaming Lips, Bad Brains, Daniel Johnston) they found on their own. This is a real musical upbringing, and the decidedly lo-fi way The Harvey Girls reinvent the songs is alternately inventive, reverent and, yes, perfectly kitsch.
Goodbye Horses (Q Lazzarus) [MP3, 6.2MB, 192kbps]
Burning for You (Blue Oyster Cult) [MP3, 9.1MB, 192kbps]
Scissors (Barbara Manning) [MP3, 5.7MB, 192kbps]
Sailin’ On (Bad Brains) [MP3, 3MB, 192kbps]
Walkin the Cow (Daniel Johnston) [MP3, 5.9MB, 192kbps]
Don’t Answer Me (Alan Parsons Project) [MP3, 6.1MB, 192kbps]
White Wedding (Billy Idol) [MP3, 5.9MB, 192kbps]
Take Meta Mars (The Flaming Lips) [MP3, 4.8MB, 192kbps]
Melissa Rodenbeek and Hiram Lucke of Lawrence, Kansas, create an atmospheric blend of Phil Spector-inspired sha-la-la pop, soul-bearing acoustic folk, and 21st century experimentation. They drop the names Prince Paul and the Shangri La’s in their bio (!), and they’ve recorded an entire EP influenced by a single Captain Beefheart song. In the tempered little gems linked here, these ears also hear a cornucopia of other groups whose lyrical balance of the sexes often make for two great bands in one: the Vaselines, Beat Happening, the Delgados, the Mekons, Velocity Girl, Low, and Yo La Tengo. It’s an odd sensation listening to the loveliness The Harvey Girls have honed in two short years of recording. And despite starting off from a pretty high place to begin with, there is also a distinct evolution among these songs (start at the bottom and work your way up). A great band that keeps getting better is a beautiful thing.
Practicing [MP3, 4.2MB, 128kbps]
Girls Sing [MP3, 2.6MB, 128kbps]
Mountain [MP3, 3.2MB, 128kbps]
Good Morning, Bubblegum [MP3, 7.3MB, 256kbps]
Blue and Green Lawnmower [MP3, 6.2MB, 192kbps]
Green Light [MP3, 4.3MB, 192kbps]

8 Replies to “The Harvey Girls”

  1. Wow. Anyone else hear the flashback with "Girls Sing"? I can just see them clapping to their sides with each drum roll. Their songs are very enjoyable…

  2. GREAT stuff. And thanks for re-posting the previous entries. What a terrific discovery – and good commentary.

  3. Shan, we can't ever thank you and 3Hive enough. We appreciate the supportive comments, too: they basically keep us going. And aks, now that we've listened to "Goodbye Horses" again we think you're right. Sorry about that, everybody. We meant well.

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