Harvey Milk Special Wishes

Since Georgia’s Harvey Milk broke up in 1998, the underground has been teeming with lost recordings and compilations: Escape Artist and Relapse assembled excellent collections, and Chunklet put out a live DVD with a bonus CD of unreleased songs. Guess this spurred the band to stoke the fire once again and come out of early retirement, and Special Wishes exemplifies why Harvey Milk surpass even the Melvins as the greatest sludge rock band in history. "I’ve Got a Love” and "Crush Them All” lay it on thick with Stephen Tanner’s creeping bass lines and guitarist Creston Spiers’ gravelly-throated howls. "War” adds some Minsk-esque atmospherics for a heavier slice of doom and "Love Swing” channels the Melvins for an anti-formulaic bash fest intended to rattle speaker cabinets. More inviting, however, are their innovative tunes that show the band’s gentle side. The mostly acoustic "Old Glory” is a poignant, Tom Waits-ish ditty, while the laidback "Once in a While” could become the group’s "Freebird.” "Mothers Day” is also fed by a slow moving Lynyrd Skynyrd conduit, and "Instrumental” (with the funny intro of young drummer Paul Trudeau about to win an Intellivision) is a slo-mo/amped-up shout-out to Stoner Witch as interpreted by C Average. As "The End” is their version of a Kiss ballad, let’s hope that Special Wishes isn’t Harvey Milk’s swan song, again. (Megablade/Troubleman)