This Wednesday, long-time New York City quintet, Millsted, will release HARLEM, an eight-song LP of in-your-face, hardcore punk rock. This will be their album, although the band, in different arrangements, has been rocking NYC’s underground music scene for well over a decade. Their politically charged music has created a niche following in the city that never sleeps, but with their latest album they’ll be looking to expand not just their following but their social commentary.
While I admittedly am not one to gravitate to hardcore punk rock, Millsted’s album is full of surprises. Although tracks like “Coyote!” and “Benghazi” take a approach common to the genre – the screeching vocals of Kelvin Uffré, a rambunctious rhythm, and edgy power chords – they belie the social conscience in each track, which addresses the ills of today’s society and the authority wielded by governments.
“Televangelist” takes on more of a hard-rock approach with Uffré singing angrily at first before being joined by the rest of the band, who chant hauntingly around him. And unlike the previous two tracks, “Televangelist” is more melodic, its pace ebbs and flows, and Uffré’s voice becomes clearer and more controlled, giving a sense of how things unknown become familiar and controlling. In other words, Big Brother is watching.
The most surprising track is “Seaform Lovers”, mostly an instrumental track that merges rock with experimental, psych-folk. It’s a beautiful, hypnotic tune that is interrupted subtly by a distorted guitar and Uffré’s whispery voice. It’s a love song in a way that only Millsted could write – an apocalyptic love tune that would be perfect in the world of Mad Max.
With HARLEM, Millsted is prepared to extend its reach beyond the five boroughs. Their sound is hard and gritty, which will resonate with some. However, the messages they convey are ones that we all should at the very least should hear. Millsted isn’t trying to confound or convert people, but rather they’re adding to the discourse that is dominated by mass media.
HARLEM can be pre-ordered on Millsted’s website (which is below), and you can hear the entire album below. Millsted consists of Kelvin Uffre (vocals), Christopher Carambot (guitar), Robert Dume (guitar), Pete Belloli (drums), and Samuel Fernandez (bass). Their previous two albums were Umm… Yea (2008) and The Great Adventures of the Gold Red Rocket (2009).
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