Review :: The Harvey Girls, "Blabber n Smoke"

The Harvey Girls are a husband-and-wife duo from Lawrence consisting of Melissa Rodenbeek and Hiram Lucke (ex-Teryakis). Since the "Girls" rarely perform around town, we have to assume the 'band' is mostly a home recording project.

"Blabber and Smoke" is a charming yet not entirely coherent recording. Perhaps this has something to do with the album's overt preoccupation with Captain Beefheart (both in the album's referential title and the band's claim that the album is in some ways an homage to the avant-garde singer).

Truth be told, the album is "consistent" - it starts off great and goes consistently downhill from there. "Good Morning, Bubblegum" is a lovely lo-fi acoustic pop song with male/female vocals and some catchy "ahhs" to boot. "The Monk and the Bug" makes fine use of a bouncy harpsichord melody but neglects to intelligibly record the lyrics. "Green Light (in your heavy metal mind)" is a good song that suffers from an oversaturated, thin-sounding recording.

The rest of the album is more on the experimental tip: there's the Tom Waits-inspired, percussion-meets-zen-monk-chanting of "All Your Water's Turned to Rope"; the fractured Western-soundtrack stylings of "Good Night, Moon"; and the patience-testing sound collages of "The Mother's Heartbeat Dream."

Certainly there's no reason to belittle The Harvey Girls for sticking to their guns and releasing original - if not entirely focused - music. Fans of experimental indie rock may find a lot that they like in "Blabber and Smoke." But beyond that circle, there will likely be little "blabber" about such a cryptic, hit-and-miss album.

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