Harlan Pepper Take Out a $20 and Live Life to the Fullest
Published Mar 10, 2014The four 21-year-old Hamiltonians in Harlan Pepper were all born well after the heyday of psychedelia and classic rock, so the fact that they sound so convincing on material steeped in these elements is quite remarkable. On this long-awaited second album, the lysergic-laced cover art and lyrics like "I went out and headed for the country, long-haired girls to take my pain away" ("Love Takes A Lot") are right outta late '60s Cali. Some of the folk and roots-rock strains evident on their 2010 debut Young And Old remain, but they definitely stress the rock 'n roll here.
A prime example is the infectious "Gimme Love," a tune made for cranking up on the patio as the weather warms. Other tunes, like "Risky Business" and the quietly charming "Allison," have mellow, laid-back grooves, all captured cleanly but never slickly by producer Colin Linden and engineer John Whynot. Linden's Rodeo King comrade Tom Wilson is dad to HP bassist Thompson Wilson, and he makes a cameo here (as do Malcolm Burn and Kendel Carson).
Forget any thoughts of nepotism, though. These hard-working lads have put in the work, and it is now paying off. Keyboards and slide guitar flesh out the core guitar/bass/drums sound, and the strength of the songwriting reveals itself over multiple spins. As the band's bio notes, they're heading "in the opposite direction to the hey-ho chorusing, hand-clapping pack." Amen to that! (Six Shooter)