the harlem shakes

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Well, I tried and tried, but me and the Hazards of Love just aren’t going to be BFFs. I had a previous commenter (thanks, Josh) who said that the title track was pretty good, and it came up randomly in my ipod, and I liked it pretty well, but like he said, the rest of it … eh. Not even the addition of Ms. Awesomesauce Worden can mitigate the ehness. Sorry, Colin and crew.

But something else came up randomly on my ipod — keeps coming up, actually, and I keep thinking, “this song is excellent! What is it?” — and it is pretty much always from the Harlem Shakes’ album Technicolor Health, which they kindly sent to me way back in January. This blog is very fond of “Burning Birthdays” and the full-out brashness it blessed my ears with, so I was glad to see the Shakes continuing the trend.

Technicolor Health is sometimes dissonant, sometimes chaotic, sometimes blippy and sometimes it goes bangety bang, but it’s all in the service of the sound. It’s a sound you have to work to get into, which is why I’m just writing about it now, I guess (yeah….). My favorite song is “Sunlight,” which combines a great beat with funny, ironic lyrics: I had a coat of many colors / sold it off online (PFork hates that line, which must be another reason to like it so much). And on the opposite end is the melancholic “Unhurried Hearts,” which (to me) laments the way life just rushes on like a freight train, and love sometimes misses us entirely.

Nice work, guys! Sorry it took so long for the writeup. I’ll be over here rockin’ out to my ipod.

The Harlem Shakes — Site | Myspace | Label (Gigantic)

The Harlem Shakes — Sunlight

The Harlem Shakes — Unhurried Hearts

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The Harlem Shakes

Attitude counts for a lot in music. Musicians aren’t just the sum of their instruments — they have to transcend it all somehow to create a saleable, interesting persona and then maintain it more or less through the years as they continue to sell records. Ever wonder why so few rock bands are truly viable for twenty-five years? Most humans aren’t built like that. Anyway, I got off topic a bit there, but I’ve been liking the Harlem Shakes lately and mostly because of the attitude of it.

The Harlem shakes are New Yorkers, and they bring a brash “I’m here, deal with me” vibe to their music. They sound young, to be sure, and bits of the music are amateurish; but instead of warbling into the mic about their troubles, they pound it out. I like the vox and I like the on-key backup, and I like the bells and whistles and the drum & bass behind. I even like the name of the new EP, “Burning Birthdays.” I don’t know what they meant by it, but as someone heading full speed into their 30s, I feel like I’m burning birthdays at an incredible rate.

These guys are unsigned and their site is down, but there’s enough on the Myspace and the Hype Machine for everyone.

The Harlem Shakes – Myspace

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]

The Harlem Shakes – Sickos.mp3
The Harlem Shakes – A Night.mp3
The Harlem Shakes – Eighteen.mp3

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