Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Harvey Gold's "Harvey in the Hall"

Harvey Gold, the ebullient singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist with Half Cleveland, seems like one hell of a nice guy. He's such a mensch that when the original bass player from his '70s-'80s band Tin Huey declined to relocate from Akron, Ohio, to Noo Yawk City with the rest of the band, Gold manfully strapped on the four-stringed instrument himself. These days, he and fellow Huey alumnus Chris Butler hold forth on a more-or-less regular basis with a revolving cast of players under the Half Cleveland moniker. But when they're not, Gold's still making music.

Harvey in the Hall is an EP's worth of mostly home-recorded, Bandcamp-downloadable toons by Gold with heavy friends that include bassist Deborah Smith Cahan (Chi-Pig), who played on Half Cleveland's Live @ the Wi-Fi Cafe last year, and Half Cleveland's regular drummer, Bob Ethington. For such an upful guy, Gold-the-songwriter's capable of plumbing the depths of adult angst, which is a far blacker dog than the adolescent variety.

Gold's eclectic influences have always included early Brit Invasion stuff, particularly the vocal-oriented Beatles/Kinks/Hollies/Zombies axis, and he tips his hat to that era and sound here with a half-speed, minimalist take on the Fab Four's "I've Just Seen A Face" that allows the interested listener to hear the words and harmonic motion with a clarity the breathless Rubber Soul original wouldn't allow.

"Lemon Beazly" is probably as close as we're going to get to a new Tin Huey recording in 2016, reuniting Gold with Huey guitarist Michael Aylward and drummer Stuart Austin (on percussion here) for a characteristically skewed romp through swampy Beefheartian territory.

My pick-to-click here is "Lazy Boy," an anguished plaint with an achingly poignant melodic line that unfolds over a hypnotically monotonous repeating chordal figure, building tension that's only released by the closing orgy of rampaging guitar (some of it provided by Black Key Dan Auerbach, whose drummer's uncle played sax with Tin Huey).

Auerbach also contributes seasick slide licks to "Allegheny Load," a convincing mountain music simulacrum that features a mandolin solo by none other than ex-Byrd Chris Hillman (I'd like to hear how that connection came about).

"In a Very Good Place" sounds for all the world like a Physical Graffiti homage, of all things, with its orchestral arrangement (including "girl vocals"), flashes of dissonance, and Bob Ethington's heavy kick drum foot. The recurring refrain, "Am I always going to worry about you," is redolent of the kind of relationship fallout with which your humble chronicler o' events is intimately, regrettably, familiar.

Go, listen, download, and when you do, tell Harvey who sent you, won't ya?


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