On the first track on their second album (first on the wonderful Matador Records) Harlem insist that they won’t help you out if you’ve done them wrong. They won’t even put you out if you’re on fire. They don’t say they’d be the ones to set you on fire, but I think they would – it’s in that simple punk energy, classic rock structure, uncomplicated harmony, like an angrier, punkier Born Ruffians.
I thought about other bands with lineups like Harlem’s – No Age, Wavves, Japandroids – all brash lo-fi, a deliberate attempt to sound recorded in a garage. Harlem, working with the old guitarist / drummer standard, play with that lo-fi sound, like they’ve set up the drum set next to the snowblower, but nevertheless manage to do something new and reasonably exciting. “Someday Soon” is clean, bright, more pop than grunge, more driving in the sunlight than head-banging in a sweaty room. And it works, marvelously.
Harlem's Hippies is out April 6th on Matador. Make sure to download the free MP3 single "Friendly Ghost" which is also quite good.