The Harmed Brothers came of age a few years back when the airwaves were being polluted by the neo-folk revival with bands like Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers ho heying us all to the point where our ears bled. Though the Portland-based band had its roots in bluegrass and folk with distinctly poppy undertones, they managed to buck the trend by forging their own path with rowdy live sets and music that, dare I say it, felt authentic. In other words, when you saw these guys ripping into a banjo, you felt like they meant it. The sound of The Harmed Brothers has always been just a touch more raw, veering closer to Uncle Tupelo at times than, say, the Avett Brothers, and they’re not afraid to get drunk and sweaty while doing it. Through it all, these guys have always been a solid musical force, pushing on in their own direction and winning over die-hard fans in the process.
Now The Harmed Brothers are putting their folky bluegrass roots on the backburner and once again heading down their own path as they prepare to release a new self-titled full-length album in February 2017. To get us ready for what’s to come, the band is releasing the album in EP format on CD and digital along with 6 b-sides on October 21st via Fluff & Gravy Records. It’s somewhat of a re-birth for the “Indie Grass” band. While the acoustic instrumentation that has been the core of the band remains, they’re laying a new foundation that supports layers of electric guitars, keyboards and swirling feedback. The Americana roots are still there, but the Indie-Pop hooks are on full display, beckoning summer to return for one more round.
This may be most evident in the band’s new single, “A Lovely Conversation”, which we are delighted to premiere on Glide Magazine today. Compared to The Harmed Brothers’ more stripped down, rootsy sound present in past songs, this tune feels more reminiscent of Wilco with a strong power pop sound. It also makes sense that it’s a single because “A Lovely Conversation” is insanely catchy.
Guitarist and vocalist Ray Vietti describes the inspiration for the song: “You know when you meet someone and you really click with them but the timing is all wrong? Maybe you’re with someone else or they are, but you walk away feeling better for having met them…but also worse because now you’re maybe challenging your current situation as thinking you may have met a better match. Life and love are so fleeting it seems nothing is meant to last and things are always changing. People so quickly fall in and out of love. And when that love reaches its end you may at first at least certainly wish you’d never met. I never know what these songs are about until much much later.”
John Shepski, the album’s producer, adds his own story on the song: “’A Lovely Conversation’ is a track that almost didn’t make it. Last winter, as the band and I were wrapping up production on the long awaited follow-up to 2013’s Better Days, I sat down with the band and went over what we had. The self-titled record was a progression of sorts for the band. The band’s “indie-grass” roots were still there of course, but the acoustic instrumentation was now a bed for lush string arrangements, horns, electric guitars, and synthesizers. We all loved where we were with the record, but it didn’t quite feel complete. Alex Salcido summed it up best as we tried to put the tracks in order…’It’s like we have an album of closers’. Within a few months, the band came back with a pile of new songs, and ‘A Lovely Conversation’ was an immediate favorite, and would become the lead track for the album.”
The Harmed Brothers release their EP on October 21st on Fluff & Gravy Records. For more music and info visit theharmedbrothers.com.
Photo: Chad Lanning