PREVIEW: Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

May 09. 2011 | By Sara Appelbaum

Cancel all prior plans on May 12th, and get your rock music loving ass to Bottom of the Hill. Belly up to the stage by 10:30PM with a bottle of beer and a shot of cheap whiskey because Ezra Furman and the Harpoons are back in SF. Never have I loved a college-made band as I love this quartet, and I’m positive that this is the last time you’ll catch them before they realize how destined for stardom they are  and increasing ticket prices ensue. You’ll certainly want to download both albums Inside The Human Body and Mysterious Power a few days beforehand because nothing, but nothing, will beat screeching the lyrics back at Furman and his Harpoons. Prepare to get sweaty, prepare to dance, and prepare to get shoved by me in a rock and roll punk ass mosh pit of one, especially during “Take Off Your Sunglasses” (video below). They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, and they’ll make you feel lucky that you can say you “saw them when.” For $12 at the door ($10 in advance!) this is a steal for the priceless experience of lyrically driven live music that is also danceable.

WHY YOU NEED TO GO TO THIS SHOW: Imagine Neutral Milk Hotel’s sound backing the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano’s signature wail and you get one of my top favorite bands for last two years, Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. As a lyricist, Furman builds richly emotional and philosophical worlds so universally true they end up defining personal moments in time. His hyperbolic diary-style commentary on life’s many facets is razor sharp, dripping with wit and emotion. Don’t be fooled by the deceptively simple lyrical construction and choice of words; Furman is a welcome brand of singer/songwriter, a workable combination of solid Dylan-esq poetry and Gen Y’s unique cynicism, angst and heart that was absent from alternative rock for far too long. (And no, little hipster, Bright Eyes  did not fill the void in the slightest.) Delightfully expressive, Furman warbles, mewls, and howls like a city cat imploring you to let him in at 5AM, simultaneously defiant and vulnerable. Make no mistake, this is not improvisational whining. He skillfully wields his voice like a lance, jabbing you with notes you never expected and gutting any attempt at imitation or boring repetition. The Harpoons ground Furman by lending weight to his lyrics with an upbeat ’60s inspired folk-punk brand of rock that packs just the right amount of catchy punch while allowing him room to dip and dive vocally. The effect is intimate and deeply satisfying, and Bottom of the Hill will no doubt serve this band well.

Download “Mysterious Power” here.

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