Hard Job - Carvest - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hard Job - Carvest

by Kevin Orton Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-03
Hard Job - Carvest
Hard Job - Carvest

Some have said Bandcamp is the greatest record store in the world, and I’m inclined to agree. Sure, there’s a mountain of crap on there but there’s also gold in them thar’ hills. Stuff on there you won’t find anywhere else. All of which makes it all the more special. One of those records is Hard Job’s Carvest.  If that weird album title doesn’t crack you up, there’s something wrong with you. Of course, it sounds nothing like Neil Young, and while there’s a quirky sense of humor, there is some real heart and soul here. Hard Job is one guy, Scott D.Townsend. I know nothing about him but I dig his record, which he has also perversely released on cassette.  

The first thing that greets you is some ambient tape noise and Townsend sarcastically declaring, “Rock & Roll woo!” then the bass line and drums kick in and some fantastically deranged punk guitar. Vocally, Townsend is faintly reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum and Gordon Gano. Musically, ‘I Look Miserable’ brings Birthday Party era Rowland S. Howard and Josef K to mind. With the early Fall’s sense of DIY. It’s a blast of no holes barred Punk. Out to mess up your room. All held together with a melodic bass line.

‘White Noise’ is a bit more melodic than the title suggests. Fashionably ramshackle from start to finish. ‘Syndication’ brings Nirvana to mind with its dark gritty guitars while the melody is more Goth than Grunge. Elliott Smith’s early band, Heatmiser comes to mind. There’s something very 1990’s Punk about all this. Without being self-consciously anachronistic or careerist. These are sounds you can trust. And they’re only concerned with telling the truth, not posing. And let me tell you, its refreshing to hear in this day and age.

‘Pay Attention To Me Blues’ has hooks galore both musically and lyrically. The sound here is early REM meets Pixies with maybe a little Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure. An album standout. Things get a little more ominously acoustic with, ‘Stormin’ Norman’s Social Security Check.’ None of which accounts for the charming keyboards. “We don’t care how you vote,” Townsend implores. Lines like, “You slide right into your 80’s without any insurance plan or a home to die in”, hit on certain fears we all share.

On ‘Dating In Your 30’s’ one wonders if Townsend isn’t speaking from experience. Nevertheless, his wit shows through the obvious trauma. Dating has never sounded so fun. By contrast, ‘Art Crime’ gets downright dark and gritty. Early Killing Joke comes to mind on this one. In the sense that this is no-nonsense Punk and unafraid of melody.

The closest we get to a love song is, ‘Walk (Away) This Way’. A catchy riff and Townsend’s soulful vocals and haunting “oohs”. Lyrically, it’s a bit obtuse in places but it’s clearly about someone uncomfortable with being fucked with in the heart dept. “I can walk away from that feeling,” he insists. But something in his voice tells you, that’s not the case.

Hard Job bids us farewell with, ‘The (Community) College Try’, with the cheerful sentiment, “I guarantee you’re a shell of a man drowning in your rut”. The object of derision might be a professor. Or a student who can identify with the object of his scorn. Much to his own disgust. Nevertheless, cynicism has never sounded so good. The last line we hear amid blaring, doomy guitars is, “The future is not what it seems.”

There’s not only a great DIY rough around the edges quality to Carvest but a sense of mystery to it all. The kind of thing early REM had going for them before they sold out and everyone jumped on their bandwagon. In any case, it’s the perfect soundtrack for the disaffected suburban youth who suddenly finds his or herself in the emotional cul de sac of their 30’s. Not quite knowing what the hell is going on or what the point of it all is.

Carvest by HARD JOB

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