Harvey Milk: "s/t" Review @ Aquarius Records!

It's kind of a no brainer around here, a new Harvey Milk is cause for much rejoicing, and often means shoo-in for Record Of The Week. What can we say? We LOVE these guys. Perhaps one of our favorite heavy weirdo sludge bands ever. Andee even released their legendary Courtesy And Goodwill Toward Men on his tUMULt label, before Relapse swooped in and snatched it up. NO ONE sounds like Harvey Milk, NO ONE, and it's ironic that pretty much every band these days wants to, cuz they've sounded the same for years and years and remained patently unpopular almost the whole time.

As if to drive that fact home (not the unpopular fact, the 'always sounded like this' fact), here's the Harvey Milk holy grail, the original debut record, recorded by Bob Weston in the early nineties, after which the band took it home and promptly lost it. And lost it remained, barring a few dubious and crap sounding bootlegs, and more recently some posted downloads of the same crappy recordings. Since folks were gonna listen to it anyway, the band figured what the fuck, they oughta take the best sounding tape they had, and get it all remastered and gussied up and released properly. And voila, the long lost self titled Harvey Milk record, featuring on its cover, perhaps THE tape where it all started.

Fair warning to the uninitiated, lots of these songs were reworked and re-recorded for other albums, this record was lost after all, so a bunch of these, in altered forms, made it onto My Love, Courtesy, the Kelly Sessions, but it's a gas to hear them here, rough and raw, in some cases dramatically different than their later versions, but that probably only matters to HM newbies, the cult of HM (ourselves included) are a dedicated and obsessed bunch, and even though we have most of these songs, we HAD to have it, and odds are a lot of you will feel the same. Plus, we have to say, the rough and raw recording definitely suits these jams. And the sound, so heavy and punishing, it's hard to imagine what folks thought of these guys back in the day, not very much we'd imagine. This crushing difficult heaviness, exactly what made them our immediate favorite band from first listen is precisely what turns off most other folks.

But if you've made it this far, we'll assume you, like us, have a think for Harvey Milk. And thus, you NEED this, everything about HM that you love is already fully formed even nearly 20 years ago, the crushing glacial pummel, the killer drum pound, the impossibly slow and yet ultra complex arrangements, the insanely emotive howled vocals, it's like these guys emerged fully formed from the band womb.

But a quick whip through the tracks should sway any nonbeliever, "Merlin Is Magic" is an epic melodic sludge prog masterpiece, with weirdly melodic vocals, and lurching hypnotic arrangement, "Dating Pressures" is total classic noiserock, laced with downtuned chug, pounding drum damage, but all Milked up with a howling vocal, and some lurching convoluted progginess, "Plastic Eggs" is the quintessential Milk slow motion doomjam, so slow, so anguished, so heavy, "Anthem" is downright jangly, but still a crushing bruiser, fuck it, you should know by now that this is essential, if you already dig the band, you're gonna go nuts for this, if you've never heard HM before, we might recommend Courtesy or My Love first, but at the same time, we can't imagine anyone listening to this, and not losing their shit and becoming immediately obsessed, and if for some reason, a person did hear this and was not utterly blown away, well, then we think the problem must be you!

Cool mini, lp style sleeve, with a simple photo of a (THE?) Harvey Milk cassette on the cover, the inside sleeve with liner notes on one side and a picture of the Milk van on the other, and last but not least, a mini reproduction of what looks like a promotional HM photo, complete with 'For booking call:' info, which is hilarious whether it's a joke or not.