The Horde and the Harem Are True Blue on ‘Fairweather Friends’

The Horde and the Harem, Fairweather Friends EP

(4/12, self-released, thehordeandtheharemband.com)

Though it began as a way for singer/guitarist Ryan Barber to record songs that didn’t work for previous projects, The Horde and the Harem has grown into its own entity, a collective of musicians with strong indie-rock and folk sensibilities. The follow-up to its debut full-length A Long Midwinter, Fairweather Friends was tracked live in the band’s basement studio in December and feels like a well-orchestrated jam session, with a large ensemble, including two percussionists, coming together to create a cohesive six-song package. The decision to track live works in the band’s favor as it authentically transfers the warm and vibrant energy of the group’s live show. The EP begins with the joyous “Robbery,” and the vocal back-and-forth between Barber and singer/pianist Hanna Stevens really shines in the folk-rock “Shiver. When the pair adopts a style of talk-singing, they make the song sound like a story. Then when they add more melody to their words, their sweet harmonies makes the daily grind of paying bills and putting in a hard day’s work seem almost appealing. Elsewhere, “Magician’s Hat” heads down a psychedelic route; the breezy “Salutations” features nothing but Barber, ukulele, and Stevens’ subtle background vocals; and the title track begins with a tropical flair before ending on a wonderfully raucous note. (Be sure to stick around after the bluesy “A Girl He Once Knew” for a little something extra.) Though four of the Horde’s members contribute vocals and the band explores several genres throughout the album, Fairweather Friends doesn’t seem bogged-down or unfocused. In fact, there’s nothing fairweather about the band at all. There’s a real sense of closeness here, one that incorporates the strengths of all involved without making each song seem like a battle for the spotlight—something all groups should strive for. Its running theme of friendship, seems a natural, effortless choice. (Sat., April 12, Tractor Tavern)

 
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