Mark Boniface is the man behind Harker – his thing is acoustic music but approached from a background of punk rock, as seems to be the fashion in the last few years – Chuck Ragan, Dallas Green, Dustin Kensrue, to name but a few. Three Summers Strong play a brand of pop/punk/emo that seems a whole world away from Harker, yet the influences remain.
The first thing you will notice is Boniface’s voice. The increasing popularity of folk/acoustic music means that an artist needs something a little bit different – something that makes them standout from the crowd. For Harker, it is his voice. The words are spat out like a man who has spent his entire life drinking sandpaper. The Punk-Rock background is obvious; his voice lends an entire different level of intensity that a man without punk roots couldn’t deliver. Oddly enough ‘Loyal Than Most’ actually strays ever so slightly – and honestly, this isn’t a bad thing – into acoustic Smashing Pumpkins b-side territory. I’m not entirely sure that this is what Boniface was intending, but it’s the vocal that does it. Imagine a really stripped down Smashing Pumpkins, just Corgan and a lifetime of alcoholism and heartbreak. ‘Lights Off’ is a lovely track, reminding me ever so slightly of the days when Frank Turner was good. Musically both tracks aren’t exactly cutting edge – there are no great deviations from the main guitar rhythm, yet somehow this just adds to the quaintness of this recording.
The third track is, fittingly enough a cover of a Jawbreaker song. Now, a confession. I had to do a bit of research before I started to write this review. To judge whether it is a good cover I needed to listen to the original. Jawbreaker are one of those bands who have spent years on my ‘need to listen to’ list. I listened, I enjoyed. I also enjoyed the version on this EP; it actually fits rather well with the other two tracks – to the point that the uninitiated would not be entirely sure that this wasn’t a Harker original. That it seems, is a massive compliment to Boniface’s songwriting ability. Simple, yet effective, passionate and intense. This is a short EP, with just two original tracks, and a cover, coming in at just over 8 minutes, but it’s enough for now, enough to showcase what Harker is about, and enough to get his voice out there.
Looking for some rasping passionate acoustic punk? Look no further!
Loyal Than Most/Lights Off is out now on Moshtache records.
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