Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Harris-The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks

October 1, 2005

harris

Band Name: Harris

Album Name: The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks

Best Element: The next great modern band.

Genre: Indie Rock

Website: www.harriscore.com

Label Name: N/a

Band E-mail: contact@harriscore.com

Harris is frighteningly current and dangerously isolated. Their latest album The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks takes all the conventions of the nu-wave emo/neo-wave dance/post-punk/indie-rock movements and spins them all on their head. The end result is a dazzling display of indie-rock firepower, but as with all great experiments, it doesn’t come without its share of naysayers.

The first thing notable quality of The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks is that it is quite long. It is 52 minutes long- 52 minutes of complex music that runs the gamut from hit-it-and-keep-moving spazzing to slow-moving epics to self-contained mellow gems. Most bands couldn’t even attempt this type of indie-rock excess. Not Harris- they’ve got the spectacular chops to keep themselves entertained for the entirety of the album. In this behemoth amount of material lies the strengths and weaknesses of this album. Those approving of Harris’ unique brand of indie-rock will be ecstatic for all 52 minutes of it and possibly hail Harris as the next great modern band. The pessimists out there will find some tracks a little bit too much like the others and say that there’s just too much to digest.

All of those points have some degree of merit. It is hard to listen to the entire album all the way through- many of the songs have such a degree of complexity that it requires strict concentration to understand exactly what is happening (especially “Last Sentiment” and “Not What We Used To Be”). But then again, there are mellower songs like “New Color”, “Pace of Change”, and “Too Young to Go” that don’t take too much effort to understand. They’re still not your average mellow songs, but they’re a step down on the intricacy level for Harris, so cut them a break, eh?

And if you don’t engage for the entirety of the album, you’ll miss the intricacies that hit in the songs, and you’ll start to feel that the album has tracks that are merely filler. This is completely and totally a sham- there is not any filler on this 52-minute CD (ambitious statement, I know). From the slow-burning “Some Kind of Gospel” to the almost too-manic “Solid Ground”, every piece of this album contributes to a different part of the emotional spectrum that Harris displays. Even the distant drumbeat that connects “Carousel” and “New Kind of Color” has importance- linking the most frenetic opening section of the CD to the less-panicked majority of it.

And now to the part about “the next great modern band”. Harris knows it all- they have the stage-antic flailers, the scream-alongs, the mid-tempo feel-good songs, the herky-jerky indie-pop songs (“Silent Treatment”), instrumental brilliance reminiscent of my heroes The Appleseed Cast (the brilliant “Some Kind of Gospel”), and beautiful slow songs (“Captain”). They know how to set up aesthetics, burying critical parts that only show themselves after multiple listens. They know how to frame a vocal line, and they know when to turn the vocals into just another instrument. They are so good that they transcend genre barriers. Their songs are distinctly theirs, and when appreciated, you will hear the touches that make Harris into the band they are.

Harris is frighteningly current and dangerously isolated- they take everything that is in all the scenes and flip it on its head, becoming more than most bands will ever be. But they are dangerously isolated in the fact that there is not a scene for this- there is not a band that has a fanbase that they can easily latch on to. They will have to make their own empire, fan by fan. It’s a hard life being the best in the business, but the reward is at 4 minutes and 40 seconds in “Captain”: the entire band crashes in on a previously fragile heartbreaker and proceeds to rock out in a cathartic, unabashed manner, leaving it open for the listener to decide whether to care or not and leaving no doubt in my mind that Harris is, in fact, as good as I think they are.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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