Harley Alexander is a man’s best friend. He is toilet trained, he fetches and reads the paper, he gives off a pleasant odour and sometimes he cracks out a melody without wearing his shoes. A stressful drunk is a productive drunk, and while I tossed back pint after pint of amber ale last Saturday night I realized one thing: nothing is as sweet as the fruits of thy own labor. A year after Harley Alexander played at Acadia Universities’ Axe Lounge I had the wicked pleasure of seeing my Harry Potter-esque friend at Halifax’s own Octopi computer shop. Oftentimes, Harley is accompanied by his friendly-friends Robert Loveless (aka Loveland), the Everywhere’s, and the lovely Brian Askew, and this is the line-up that graced us last November. This time he donned his sassy tall toque and belted out some tunes all by himself (with a little help from his friends, of course). Here’s what I think of the man.
One thing can be said about the dozen or so fellows that occupy these three conjoined but surely individual bands is that they live, breath, and play as sort-of musical stir-fry. They (used to, at least) all live in the same household, they all possess their own unique flair on life, and they mix-and-match with each other musically like a Lego play set. Brian Askew, Harley Alexander, Samuel Hill all work together but also separately in the space of their own bands, and each artist has their own repertoire of skills to offer. This ranges from drums, bass, vocals, bongos, maracas, lead guitars, songbirds, amped triangles, whatever pleases you.
There is little emptiness or vanity in Harley’s music, with it at times even poking fun at recent politics, popular culture, mortality, outer space, and the mundane. An example of this being his bravely robotic song “Digital Citizens” with the line “the mayor smokes crack, Stephen huffs the glue”, echoing our infamous and lampooned yet strangely loved Torontonian ex-major Rob Ford. Stephen Harper gets a less than honorable mention because huffing glue is reserved for idiots. Good thing we voted in a handsome man this time around.
It takes a house to make a home and it takes soul to make a band. Home is where the heart is, the heart is in the soul, yeah whatever feelin’ good. Soul, in this case, is Harley’s specialty. He possess the beautiful ability to make a crowd feel like a family, and speaking mango-eh-mango with the guy leaves you feeling warm and refreshed. As he busted out his modus operandi of spacey groove-rock Harley made it a priority that his audience had fun, something that has become somewhat of a commodity in our factory-printed Cheese Wiz and Dewitos flavoured society.
In all of the times I have had the pleasure of seeing Harley Alexander perform live I have been motivated by his attitude towards life and the energy he brings to his music. Universal Love, his debut album, is as warm and accepting as he is, along with the keen lyrics, bass rifts, and funky-fun times that have become essential to his playlists. Gold Shirt, his newest ditty, is another diamond among the rough of our dirty-socks, dirty-laundry society. What’s up, haters?
Give this man some coffee money @