Good artists borrow, but great artists steal. Cleveland post-hardcore outfit Harvey Pekar may borrow their name from the city's famous cartoonist, but the music they make is anything but funny. The five-piece plays an aggressive punk rock with hardcore influence that is absolutely relentless and cathartic, coupled with an experimental lyricism that makes the band one of the best in Cleveland's punk scene.
With raspy vocals similar to Polar Bear Club and Every Time I Die, the lyrics are influenced by various pop culture references including Fight Club and Ferris Beuller. The band's five-song EP Thirty Ghosts weaves intricate imagery with metaphorical allusions to create a unique basis for the strong power-chord laden riffs and groovy mid-tempo drums. The hardcore roots show on "Comforting Nag," which references The Jungle Book, Dumbo, and Peanuts with a yell-talk vocal approach over a memorable guitar loop. "Begotten of Ian Fleming" fleshes out a skate-punk influence and the occasional backup and gang vocals creating an accessible and familiar amalgamation of genres. Though the band hasn't released much material, Thirty Ghosts is more than enough to hold your attention and a welcome addition to the the ranks. The pop culture references are an inspired tactic that work surprisingly well, never feeling forced. In fact, following along with the lyrics and references while listening makes the music even an more enjoyable experience. When many bands are sticking to chugs and breakdowns, it's refreshing to see Harvey Pekar stand out from the pack.
You can check out Harvey Pekar and follow along with the lyrics and references on their Bandcamp where you can also download the record for pay-what-you-want. You can also pick up their cassette here.