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Harvey Milk - The Kelly Sessions [Escape Artist - 2004]

Among all the US rock underground, few achieved a more legendary status than Harvey Milk. They broke up a good six years ago, having released a handful of essential ep’s and lp’s on various small indie labels. Not many people did actually pay attention at the time, now is your chance to jump on the bandwagon.

Last year, Relapse released The Singles, a great compilation (browse our archive for a review and a short history of the band) and a year later, Escape Artist releases a long “lost” recording, The Kelly Sessions (recorded by… Kelly Noonan in the mid-90’s). Apparently, more re-issues are on their way.

Recorded quite early in their career, some of the tracks on this CD are more traditional noise rock than what we’ve been used to with the fabulous weirdness of Courtesy and goodwill toward men. You know, something more along the lines of the Steve Albini / Chicago noise rock scene. Of course, we’re talking about Harvey Milk here so the expected unexpected takes place, the magic unfold and jaws are dropped to the floor as the Georgian threesome pushes the boundaries of slow further than the HardCore kids were ready to accept back in 95.

Slow and heavy in a Melvins way might be a fair description of what HM sounds like, but ultimately it’s a superficial one, they have so much more to offer. I mean, the bass sound is incredibly distorted, the drummer is a hard but slow hitter and Creston usually goes for the passionate, desperate low end screaming. It shouldn’t allow us to forget that Creston is first and foremost a damn fine guitarist and that beyond the apparent immediacy of the music, the arrangements are much more refined than what you’d expect. No wonder that people such as Steve Albini and Alex Newport are to be counted among their fans.

And since Harvey Milk was quite a humorous band, you will have plenty of fun thanks to their song titles, lyrics or the Leonard Cohen cover that closes the Kelly Sessions.

Any Harvey Milk I’ve heard has proved essential. And since their shit is quite hard to come by, get this one while you can, it’s limited to 2000 copies. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

François Monti
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