Cincinnati, Ohio has never been known as a bastion of independent music. Being on the verge of Kentucky, it's often overrun with pop/country and the like, flooding it's airwaves and bars with what people in board rooms believe we should like because spreadsheets and focus groups say it is so. But there is always an exception to the rule. Harbour wants very much to be that exception. The four piece have a very upbeat and poppy feel that nonetheless clashes with most of what's been heard out of Cincinnati in the last few years (READ: since like 1986).
At first listen, Harbour plays melodic offbeat alternapop. It's important to keep in mind they play it masterfully, with a feeling of fun in every song. The beats laid down are very driving without being straight 2/4 or 4/4 dance rhythms. This drummer really likes to explore the set, laying into the hi-hat for an extension or getting tribal with the toms in verses that might be let down were those massive thumps not there. Vocally, Harbour is a bit sassy with a classic feel. Not Roy Orbison Classic, but kind of the neo-classic greaser style we see from bands like The Neighbourhood. Guitars are driving without clashing: there is a nice exchange of leads between the at least two guitars and they tend to be supported by the bass, which always holds the rhythm line. If there is one negative to this self-titled album it's the abrupt endings to many of the songs - they seem to flow on then suddenly hit a brick wall to stop dead.
Some of the stand out songs on this 14 track eponymous album include the starter track, "What I'm Looking For" (we'll ignore the intro as it's, well, an intro). This song really sets the tone for the album, upbeat and dancy (if you are into moving around like that). Another interesting track is the stripped down "Three Seasons" which features some simple drums with vocal melodies and overlays to start off, making it a pretty chill tune amongst some more frenetic tunes. Finally, "Tonight Tonight" really shows where upbeat alternapop can meet a darker side.
With a sound like this, Harbour has the possibility of putting Cincinnati on the map as a place that produces music the rest of us can enjoy. Hopefully there is a bright future for this band from Southern Ohio.
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