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In 2010, Austin, TX was one of the hippest places on earth. Matador’s Casual Victim Pile was a fine document of the noisy indie rock scene there, and one of the standout groups on the record was Harlem. The ramshackle energy and goofy attitude they brought to their featured song “Beautiful & Very Smart” carries over to the songs on their second album, Hippies. It’s a 16-song blast of youthful energy, a reverbed-out racket that combines the fever of garage rock, the rumble of rockabilly, and the slightly warped sensibility of all the great post-Modern Lovers bands. The group didn’t labor much over the sound of the album, it sounds like they just turned up to the studio (which was probably in a friend’s garage), plugged in, and ran through their set. It gives the record a nice, live feel and there’s enough variation in the songs to keep it from being a monochromatic slog. Of the two main guys in the band, Michael Coomer writes the weirder songs and sings them in a wonderfully snotty voice that never gets annoying. Curtis O'Mara’s songs are a little more standard indie rock, and they are top-quality indie rock at that. It would be easy but a little pointless to try and pick out highlights among the tracklist; there are no real clunkers to be found, only loose-limbed and good-natured rock & roll songs that would sound great at BBQs, block parties, or any place dudes (both male and female) hang out. The trio plays and sings them all like they are having a great time, like they were just hanging out in someone’s rec room and playing for friends. It’s kind of a rare experience in a world of bands that seem desperate to impress, determined to make the shiniest, the noisiest, the most tripped-out record, bands that are just plain needy. Sometimes it’s enough to write really catchy and fun songs and play them with a minimum of fuss. Harlem has done that on Hippies, and for that, they deserve all kinds of praise.

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