Packing it in after recording 1998’s “The Pleaser,” Athens-based Harvey Milk figured there wasn’t much else to do apart from lead normal lives, work day jobs and such. With three well-received albums comprising the band’s legacy, a new millennium’s investment in hard rock of the stoner variety found the band being held up as paragons of underground accomplishment. What’s odd aren’t the comparisons to other sludge-minded, grunge-era performers, but that Harvey Milk doled out tracks wrapped up in orchestration like “The Anvil Will Fall” from the its 1996 “My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be.” The composition eventually pushes through stringed-finery to arrive at a dirgey, half-sung-half-moaned section with musical backing befitting a seventies’ hard-rock cover group, ten beers deep and beholden to Pentagram or some other similarly minded metal progenitors. It wasn’t just Harvey Milk’s penchant for odd accompaniment endearing them to the open-minded end of sludge’s musical spectrum, but the band’s ability to genuinely work in other forms. A wealth of droney rock bands find their ideas spun out during any number of Harvey Milk’s eight-minute songs. But works like “Go Back to France,” an extended exploration of percussion, seems as likely to be found on something with John Zorn’s name attached as on Relapse Records. Sporadic touring isn’t set to make the band, which has in the past included ex-Melvins Joe Preston, figureheads of any movement. Those live dates with ample crowds, though, probably provide a sort of solace for conceiving of such an odd act ten years ago. Hopefully, the band’s new albums, which began arriving in 2006, and its expanded fan-base keep the ensemble together for a while, allowing Harvey Milk to summon new ways to combine musics which should be at odds with one another. (Dave Cantor)
July 19 at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 West Belmont, (773)281-4444. 8:30pm. $12. 17+.