[sic] Magazine

Harlem – Hippies

There’s no shortage in purveyors of ramshackle garage-rock, but few have resurrected it under such a likeable guise. Despite the name, Harlem hail from Tucson and have since gravitated to Austin, and their three-piece jangle oozes charm thanks to super-strong stoner melodies and a double helping of infectious hooks. Lead wastrels Curtis O’Mara and Michael Coomer share and swap vocal duty along with ants-in-their-pants changes in their chosen instrumentation.

With generous reverb, bar-room bounce and under-produced appeal, it all subsequently comes on like a more streamlined Black Lips , or like a poppier And Girls Club-era Strange Boys . Harlem even take the time to match the latter with a lengthy track count and, on “Gay Human Bones”, a nasal bleat strongly reminiscent of Ryan Sambol himself.

Hippies follows on from the feet-finding debut Free Drugs 😉, and just like that superfluous smiley shows, the Harlem boys collectively have a playful heart. This carefree silliness culminates on the tongue-in-cheek pop of “Friendly Ghost”, a track which sounds decidedly better propped against the context of Hippies than it does in isolation.

More unconventionally, the powerful 60s garage influences allows for occasional whiffs of early Beatles to make themselves know. The sing-along melodies and mop-top headshaking of the pleading opener “Someday Soon” are perhaps the best example of this, whereas, in both its senses, “Be Your Baby” is as satisfying simple and familiar as its title suggests.

The laidback rhythm and blues of early Rolling Stones numbers is brought to mind on “Stripper Sunset”, and “Tila & I” arrives like a less-well produced Soft Pack enjoying themselves more. Its mantra of “whatever, that sounds cool” is the best exercise in non-committal apathy since Liam Lynch perfected it all those years ago.

Low on variety, high on “oohs” and “whoas”, Hippies is a fairly impeccable collection of summer garage.

Advised downloads: “Gay Human Bones” and “Someday Soon”.

Hippies is out now on Matador .