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21 February 2017

Harangue (Wilder Pryor/Enamel)

I have always loved the verb 'harangue' and it's delightful to find a band taking their name, and from my hometown as well! This was released a few years after I left town and I don't know any of the band members, but the bigger surprise is this sound - a real departure from Pittsburgh's usual emphasis on heavy rock riffs and volume. Though Harangue is loud, exploding with a somewhat raw recording that has an edge of fuzz on everything, which is to say the vocals, drums, piano and electric guitar. But what's different about it is the style of songwriting - five long songs, built around a very stylised singing style and the interplay of the piano and the guitar. The vocalist sings in a way that is nearly yelping, but still tuneful and focused. The closest comparison would be the Canadian band Frog Eyes, who I like a lot but have no records by; Harangue's vocalist has the same slightly crazed sonority and affect, and I could even say I hear a little bit of Jello Biafra in here too. It all really gels; opening cut 'Wisteria' is like knives in the darkness, and the speedy jam at the end of 'Brittle, Empty Mornig' shows what a tight musical unit they are. When cymbals start crashing it definitely gets messy and feels like you're in a basement with a determined group of young men; there are atmospheric guitar scrapes in places (the spacious bits, like 'Whitewashed Wall') and instead of solos or instrumental interludes, it feels like the whole band works together trying to take the songs into different directions. They get long - 'Uniformly Chaotic' is positively epic in scope - but it never feels samey or repetitive. Yet after the record ends, there's still a ringing in my ears. It seems like they've disappeared already, leaving only this, a limited local release and who knows what they went on to be. 

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