If you don’t remember the late-90’s, catchy pop-hit “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger, you were most likely clinically brain-dead or home schooled. Just when you thought you’d got the damn sticky thing out of your head, Seattleite band Harvey Danger is back again, to fill your mental quota of catchy songs. And watch out…they’re coming to Western.
Some time off from, well, making money, Harvey Danger released their third LP Little by Little… in September of this year. They’ve recruited a great variety of accomplished bands to help them out, with the combined credits of the album including Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney, Beat Happening, Low, Screaming Trees, and Blonde Redhead.
As the members of the band have matured, so has their sound. Rather than a more acrid alternative-garage style, the new sound of Harvey Danger is very clear and focused on the musicality and lyrics. Since these are essential elements of pop music, this stuff is definitely good, clean poppish fun.
Strike that. The sound is clean and clear, but the lyrics are still complex and reminiscent of those good ol’ 90’s, with singer Sean Nelson expressing both his humor and intelligence with very strong vocals. This is “an album of deceptively high-minded pop music,” according to the band’s press release. Mo McFeely of wiredplanet.com agrees, “front man Sean Nelson employs more two-dollar words in a verse than most kids see on their SATs.”
Before you tuck your tail between your legs and run from a potentially enlightening evening – God forbid this kind of experience on a Saturday night at a college campus – be aware that we’re still talking fun music, and besides, the press release describes the new songs as “suggesting rather than dictating meaning, and allowing melody to prevail over intellect.”
If you’re still not convinced, you can look at the band’s history of excellence. Harvey Danger was formed in Seattle in 1994, and their first record to be released was Where Have All the Money Makers Gone? After some astounding success with their song “Flagpole Sitta,” the album was re-released by a major record label and sold half a million copies. It cost only $3,000 dollars to create the album.
According to Joshua Clover of Spin magazine, “Harvey Danger [were] too smart to die.” The next album to be released was King James Version in 2000. Though the critics liked it, the success of the first album was not topped.
What about this new album? Since the album is supposed to have “the sound of a radically transformed group,” according to the press release, you might want to get a taste before you dedicate your Saturday evening. Harvey Danger is pulling an evolutionary move and has posted its entire album for a full download on its website, www.harveydanger.com (click on “Downloads”).
Even though their birth was in the early 90’s, Harvey Danger has adapted with the times, “We realize that digital files are the primary means by which a huge segment of the population is exposed to new music; we also believe that plenty of music lovers in the world will buy a record once they’ve heard it – whether via radio or computer.”
Rather than fight the downloading craze, Harvey Danger has decide to embrace it and work with it realistically, “it’s a bet that the resources of the Internet can make possible a new way for musicians to find their audience – and forge a meaningful artistic career built on support from cooperative, not adversarial, relationships.”
After loading up my iTunes quickly and easily off of the website-this is a fantastic occasion for me, since I live off-campus and am sadly not smart enough to tap into Direct Connect-I quickly found some lovely little ditties that I rather enjoyed.
“War Buddies” is a fabulously ironic song, using the contrast of a bouncy fusion of instruments with some Nelson singing some hard-hitting lyrics in the same lilting cadence: “Let’s be war buddies; waste deep in big monies; side-by-side; I’d be your atheist in your foxhole, anytime.”
“Happiness Writes White” just digs its fuzzy little way into your heart with its musically strong backdrop and excruciatingly catchy melody. Watch out for this melody, it pops up and down the scale, and gets wedged right into your brain. This crazy thing left me bouncing and grinning – slash mouth-breathing – even when I was grossly sick and had snot dripping down my face.
The opening song, “Wine, Women and Song” is punctuated with piano chords, and is fun, but has the perfect mixture of despair and rich sound keep it from being simple bubble gum pop.
Overall, you’re going to want to download these songs and do some prep for the concert. They lend themselves to several listens, and are almost Disney follow-the-bouncing-ball singable. I also think that Chris Uhl of Aquarian Weekly expressed the convalescence of a great band and its new sound quite well: “This doesn’t suck at all.”
And guess who else doesn’t suck; the opening bands! Sweeping the Seattle music scene in all of their pre-teen glory, Smoosh has opened for Pearl Jam, Sleater-Kinney and Death Cab for Cutie. No, really…these sisters are middle-school aged, and their first album was a best seller in Seattle. They are preparing to go on their UK tour. They are a phenomenon, and self-proclaimed child alternative rockers. They are challenging Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson for weird child-stardom!
Tennis Pro was described by the Stranger as having “elements of Weezer, the Beach Boys, and Fountains of Wayne... [you will] get served snotty attitude, sweet keyboard licks, and subtle distortion as the Pro turn out a few ace power-pop tracks in the process.” On their website (www.tennispromusic.com) they say Bellingham is their favorite college town, so they obviously have great taste in venues too.
Jetlag Palm will also be making an appearance.
This show costs only $3 for students, and $5 for general admission. It is sponsored by AS Pop Music and Special Events at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 19. Next time, don’t wait for a witty, witty article to appear in the AS Review, your entertainment knowledge crutch, get your information bottled straight from the source at http://popmusic.as.wwu.edu or contact AS Pop at (360) 650-2846 or at ASP.firstname.lastname@example.org.