There is always a certain adrenaline rush to discovering a band or a sound without it being referred to you by a friend or even reading about it from some music critic who gets paid to keep up with the new, hip bands or trends on the scene. For the first time in God knows how long, I felt that rush again when I stumbled upon a band out of Athens, Georgia (a city that honestly gives my beloved Austin a good run for its money when it comes to putting out great bands and great music) while haphazardly perusing the “free listening” files on the interweb during my daily eight-hour confinement to my cell.
The source of this adrenaline surge? The band Harvey Milk (named after the first openly gay city supervisor in San Francisco who passed away in the late 1970s). Although they can trace their existence back to the early ‘90s, Harvey Milk are one of those rare musical projects that seems to be able to hover just below the precipice of popular renown and yet not quite so far as to be lost in obscurity forever.
Their latest effort, Life…The Best Game in Town (released June 3rd on Hydrahead Records), is a welcome sledgehammer-to-the-face for this particular critic who can only find a few things more aesthetically pleasing than the sound of a heavily distorted guitar in drop D tuning (for reference, see Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”) being played as loud as possible. And Harvey Milk offers plenty of that.
From the first track, “Death Goes to the Winner” (an indirect compliment to The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” albeit with a heavier foot on the fuzz box), there’s a solid four minutes worth of one chord. One chord being pummeled over and over again behind a cavalcade of feedback and electric peels that cast an even darker shadow over the most ominous tones of the great Beatles classic. Yet this is just the beginning. The album as a whole rolls. It rolls hard. It rolls harder and heavier than most anything else out there right now, without compromising the song-art of melody. I, for one, need to hear this ilk of rock and roll at this point in time and at this point in history.
(Author’s note: Please listen to “Motown.” If nothing else, listen to “Motown.”)
To sum it up (if such a thing is possible), Life…The Best Game in Town is offering us a refreshing turn back to the riff mastery of the likes of Tony Iommi. Harvey Milk has resurrected itself to give us listeners the courage to explore the infinite boundaries of rock and roll and her redemptive noise, and to experience a purity of rock that needs to be preached to the masses. Hence, this review.