Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

Harvey Danger

Slash/London, 1998


REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Talk about a helluva record! Released by a Seattle band in the dying days of grunge, this record was miles away from what was coming out at the time and set the stage for the type of indie rock that would be coming from Seattle in the coming years.

Everyone talks about “Flagpole Sitta” as one of the defining tracks from the late ‘90s, but it’s just one of some really great tracks on this record. The band careens from heavy rock on “Private Helicopter” and “Carlotta Valdez,” inspired by the movie my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Vertigo, to some interesting lo-fi ballads. This was one of my favorite records from this era and it is still in heavy rotation.

The band – Sean Nelson, Jeff Sult, Evan Lin, and Aaron Huffman (R.I.P.!) – was quite different in their approach. A lot of the record sounds like K Records instead of Sub Pop, and that’s what set the band apart from the likes of Brad, Candlebox, or Green Apple Quick Step. You wouldn’t ever hear one of those bands casually drop a violin into several tracks so seamlessly that you almost forget it’s even there.

Tracks like “Woolly Muffler” really show how different the band was and how they still hold up almost twenty years later. But the real centerpieces of the record are the slower songs. I like to call them the Great Trilogy: “Problems And Bigger Ones,” “Wrecking Ball,” and the album’s coup de grace, “Radio Silence.” Together, these tracks make up one of the best records of the end of the ‘90s. Slow and swooning one minute, almost heavy and crunching the next, they’re just the absolute best and are so full of raw emotion there’s no reason they wouldn’t get permanently stuck in your head.

There are some songs here like “Jack The Lion” and “Terminal Annex” that don’t work as well, but when you’ve got so much consistently great material, the weaker songs can easily be overlooked. For me, listening to this album is awe-inspiring; it’s a crying shame people just can’t seem to get over “Flagpole Sitta” and discover how great this album really is. By the way: Rolling Stone gave this album two stars, so they clearly don’t know what great music is!

Rating: A-

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