Friday, October 31, 2008

A Great Band for Today: Harley Poe

One of my current favorite bands is the little-known but quite awesome Harley Poe. I'm not even completely sure that they're still together -- the frontman (Joe Whiteford) formed Harley Poe after his previous band, Calibretto, broke up, and Harley Poe -- while undeniably awesome -- does look more like a side project than a full-time gig.

I don't know all that much about them -- they're pretty obscure -- but they've got a great sound, and they're a perfect band for Halloween. So, in case there's anyone out there looking for some party music for tonight, here's what I know and could dig up.

Harley Poe sounds a lot like early-period Violent Femmes, but their music is almost entirely about horror-movie imagery -- zombies, vampires, maniac killers, and the like. (They've got songs about being zombies and about fleeing zombies, about being a vampire on a date with a girl, and discovering that the girl you're on a date with is a vampire -- they're equal opportunity that way.)

So the sound is acoustic punk -- fast but not electric, angry but not screeching. And that generally goes well with the lyrics, especially in songs like "It's Only the End of the World" and "What's a Devil to Do?" (which I've mentioned here before). They do have some slower songs, but it's the high-velocity ones that really showcase their sound, and dark sense of humor, the best.

They're essentially a joke band, I guess, but they're easily the greatest joke band since Dread Zeppelin (who had two excellent albums and then started wearing the joke thin -- I expect the same will happen to Harley Poe in time, if they didn't already break up).

Harley Poe released three records, all within thirteen months starting in early 2006 -- In the Dark, a full-length with ten studio songs and four live tracks; then The Dead and the Naked, which was the other way around: five studio songs and ten recorded live (and recorded well, at a clearly happy concert at someone's house); and then one-half of a split record, Harley Poe and the Dead Vampires, with five songs from each band.

Harley Poe has a MySpace page, as every band is now required to do.

You can hear some of their music at, and watch some videos (quite grainy and amateur) on YouTube.

There are also some MP3s to listen to and buy at Mtraks. Mtraks also has a good Selection of Harley Poe videos, mostly from one particular videotaped performance. (These seem to be the same as the YouTube videos, but they're better organized.)

You can also hear or buy their music on this very page, using this handy Amazon widget. (And if anyone guesses that I made this post so that I could play around some more with Amazon's MP3 widget, well, you're not completely wrong...)

Or, if you prefer the traditional "shiny disc" format:

So: it probably says something telling about me that these guys are one of my current favorites, but they are, and maybe I am. (Whatever you're thinking.)

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