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Pressure Plays // Harvey Pekar

Pressure Plays // Harvey Pekar

Dave Sebille

I have to start with the fact that, while writing this article and waiting for pizza at 2:50 a.m., I have listened to Harvey Pekar’s The Astral We three times all the way through, one time reading the highly conceptual lyrics of singer Nick Krastas.

“The album is an examination of our sense of self and general human consciousness through the lens of science fiction, artificial intelligence, and machines versus organic life,” Krastas explains. 

This album rules. It pushes the boundaries of a musically safe goldilocks zone. Side A pulls you in with the first and most coherent lyrics on the album: “The fleshy bag speaks electric code.”

Leading into a string of steadily driving movements. The album is precisely arranged to play as a single piece, surely by no mistake.

Guitarist Elliott Frank has an extremely acute ear for subtle tone changes. His ability to craft ominous winding backdrops for the non stop and ever increasing surge of pure power that is Harvey Pekar’s rhythm section, consisting of Nick Schmitt on bass and Ian Douglas on drums.

This use of dynamic sets Harvey Pekar aside from all other hardcore bands.

There are a time for soundscapes and a time for all out bellowing heaviness, speed, and aggression. I know this, you know this, and finally there is a homegrown hardcore outfit that understands that too.

The last half of The Astral We is more dramatic and theatrical than the first. It uses a lot of giant sounding group vocals. Like an army of ancient sentinels guarding a city deep in the abyss of a martian underground ocean. In reality it’s just four amazingly polite and jolly vegans being much more badass than they look. The mood is thoroughly set for the album’s finale, which left me feeling lonely and slightly depressed. The fact that I was feeling these human feelings after listening to a local band’s album was refreshing. I felt something because of music, and that is worth more than any pro-tools shenanigans people get all worked up about.

With the recent addition of drummer Ian Douglas, the band is hitting the road in late March for a nine day stretch through the Northeast. The band’s live set is everything you would hope for while listening to their records. It’s loud, fast, and extremely well rehearsed. For four young gentlemen—I do not use this term lightly—who just seem stoked to play frantic hardcore about singularity, they have put together a tight and precise live show.

I’ve always believed that talent knows talent, so I selfishly asked the Pekar dudes what they’ve been listening to lately.

Nick Schmitt (Bass): All Dinosaurs // Total Dissatisfaction

See Also

Ian Douglas (Drums): Signals Midwest // At This Age

Elliott Frank (Guitar): Sparrows // Let The Silence Stay Where It Was

Nick Kratsas (Vocals): Anything by The Cranberries or Simon and Garfunkel, adding the fact that “it’s winter.”

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