billy harvey
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billy harvey

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"Billy Harvey - Bearsick"

From what I can find, Bearsick is Billy Harvey's third solo release. I have not heard any of his previous body of work, but if they all have been as good as Bearsick, I am truly amazed this man is not as famous and critically acclaimed as your John Vanderslices or at least recognized and appreciated as much as your David Bazens of the music world. Upon first hearing "Scribblers Heart" and Harvey sing with double-tracked and sometimes triple-tracked vocals, a finger-picked guitar and a tale of love in a "deep dark forest past the wiggly wormy trees," I couldn't help but be reminded of the early Elliott Smith records. I also recognized, though, that this was something entirely different, great, and new. In "Kaleidoscope Gun," hand claps, a steady clinking of metal, bass in the forefront, piano lines weaving in and out, and some Califone-like electronic bits all work out great together.

When I got to "I May I May" I pretty much stopped in my tracks. It just has something beautiful and heartbreaking about it that is immediately identifiable and memorable. It is everything a beautiful acoustic ballad should be and sounds as if it could have come straight off Rubber Soul. Next is "Soft Blade," coming off as a strange '50s slow dance song that will make you want to hold someone close and sway around an empty room. "World Is on Fire" incorporates a drum machine background with a rumbling bass line and some very Eels half spoken half sung vocals that have just the right amount of eeriness in them. The song puts you in a trance, allowing you to watch the destruction: "La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la, the world is on fire."

On "Poisoning the Pool," Harvey channels Tom Petty, weary and soft, and picks up a harmonica. This song is another gorgeous piece of acoustic work about growing up and living life:
The evidence around us is kind of overwhelming, but the future is here
And there's got to be a limit to death and destruction, but the line is not clear
She's got a little baby, and I don't have a baby yet, but one day I might
And I don't know much about it, but I know what I know, and I know what feels right... right?
Slowing things down for a moment, "Leaving for Eugene" is a quiet finger-picked affair about the one that got away and the false acceptance of losing someone you thought you never would lose. About two-thirds of the way through the rest of the instruments kick in, fleshing out the ending isolation of the lines: "She's sleeping; I'm not sleeping."

I think that it is important now to mention that Billy Harvey is already 40 years old, and I say this in the most positive and productive way. By the time Paul McCartney was 40, his Wings were crashing and burning creatively, and he couldn't consistently write as perfect a pop song as Harvey's "When I Say Go," the centerpiece of catchiness on the album. The second-to-last track is another standout that delivers the garage rock workout "The Bringdown." This fuzzed out romp would go perfectly between any of the songs off the first two Velvet Underground albums, and maybe even better than the Nico-sung songs. Why was she on that album anyway? But that's a whole other article.
- Brian Kagel

"Music Review"

Austin singer-songwriter Billy Harvey is the best kind of postmodern pop obsessive. Recording largely by himself on a laptop computer, the Illinois native freely indulges his off-kilter, mildly embarrassing preoccupations on his latest self-released album, Pie, a romper-room ride through the mind of a sensitive, conflicted romantic. “Piggyback Ride” finds him promising to get abs of steel, win a million bucks, and give the girl of his dreams a piggyback ride across the world. But once he wins her love, Harvey can think of nothing better than to hear her say that she doesn’t understand him at all. It’s the kind of honest perversity that might disorient Nickelback fans, but should guarantee Harvey a fruitful career as an intriguing cult figure.

by Gilbert Garcia - San Antonio Current

"Billy Harvey: singer/songwriter, defender of the weird"

Billy Harvey: singer/songwriter, defender of the weird

Friday, November 09, 2007
Singer/songwriter Bill Harvey Q&A

By Casey Phillips
Staff Writer

With his irreverent sense of humor and a Web site that looks like someone locked Tim Burton in a loft with masking tape, peyote and a video camera, Billy Harvey is certainly doing his part to “keep Austin weird.”

In keeping with the Texas city’s slogan, Harvey’s vocal style is at the far end of the musical spectrum from sugary mainstream pop. He delivers sung poetry like a comedian deadpanning — so bare-bones it almost borders on being unmelodic.

As a result of this, in combination with skeletal instrumental backup — just simple rhythm guitar licks, keys and light drums — his lyrics are left naked and exposed.

“I put a lot of thought into the lyrics, and I want them to have layers so the more you listen to them, the more they’ll reveal about what I’m saying,” said Harvey, who is booked for a Wednesday show at Barking Legs Theater. “At the same time, I want to leave them open enough that they can mean ... whatever (the listener) wants it to mean.”

Given how deliberately and carefully he approaches songwriting, it comes as no surprise that the Illinois native turned Lone Star resident was head over heels for music from his introduction to it at age 9.

“My mom went to Mexico on a drunken drug vibe and brought me back an acoustic guitar — I think she was smuggling drugs in it,” he said, laughing. “I started playing that thing, (and) from the moment I touched it, I knew that that was all I would do.

“It’s weird … I had that flash, and that was it.”

From his birthplace in Evanston, Ill., Harvey has covered a lot of ground, living in several locations around the country.

Relocating plays a key role for Harvey in developing songs or concepts. The lack of responsibilities en route and the challenges of each new destination allow him to open himself up to new sources of inspiration, he said.

“My mind is more freed up to think about myself, which is my favorite thing to think about,” he said, laughing. “I’m also daydreaming a lot, so that helps.

“It’s very stimulating to have your surroundings constantly changing and to be in unexpected predicaments. I write a fair amount when I’m at home too, but it just seems like it happens more on the road.”

So far, his writing has resulted in four albums, the latest of which, “Bearsick,” came out last year. And, no, the title isn’t about a grizzly’s battle with indigestion, though its origin is no less odd.

“I know I need therapy or an exorcism, but I have these really vivid dreams, and that word came to me, so when I woke up, I wrote it down,” he said. “I kind of feel like that record came together, and that was the title and was always supposed to be the title.”

Look for more from Harvey next year when he plans to release a double disc of unpublished demos. Another album with “Bearsick” collaborator Craig Ross is also in the works, he said.

E-mail Casey Phillips at - timesfreepress


EP "More Happy Than Sad" 2002
LP "Toast" 2003
LP "Pie" 2005
LP "Bearsick" 2007
LP “Grow Garden Grow” 2008
DVD “Everywhere Now” 2008
LP “The Everlasting War” 2009



Over the years Billy Harvey has been playing his own brand of Post Modern Pop, working not only as a songwriter but also as a
producer (Charlie Mars, Bob Schneider, Slaid Cleaves, and Steve Poltz are among his credits). A prolific writer, he has been the
recipient of the International Songwriters Award for Best Rock Song “Frozen Through”, and broke into the Top 100 on the CMJ
Charts with his 2007 release "Bearsick". The caffeine-addled do-it-yourselfer has also been quietly directing, animating, and editing
the accompanying music videos to his records.
In February of last year Billy shot and directed a documentary film entitled “EVERYWHERE NOW". Filmed entirely on his laptop
camera Harvey intimately chronicles a 7000 plus mile tour in a car powered by waste vegetable oil. From crossing the continental
divide on a sheet of ice to digging through oil dumpsters in the freezing cold, what follows is a near epic journey of endurance and
self-discovery that is both beautiful and at times harrowing.
2009 brings with it the release of Billy’s new album "The Everlasting War". Harvey has clearly out done himself this time around.
This record teems with raw emotion and heartfelt sentiment so succinct it is impossible not to be affected by it. Harvey has a unique
way of taking even the darkest of horizons and implanting the tiniest little sun so that the listener is sure to walk away with the hope
of a new day. This record plays like a love letter. To a girl, to himself, ultimately to us as we are invited to participate in the clear
honesty of his words. Standout tracks include “Let This Be The Day”, “One Mississippi”, and “Desperation Mambo”.
Billy's website has won various media and internet awards including the Interactive Design Award at South By Southwest and the
Flash Forward award in NYC. Please visit it here…