Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Harper’s Fellow

Ah, the glory of the Hump Day is once again upon us in local music fashion. I am glad to see that you guys have been digging a lot of the music I have been spotlighting lately. My tastes are just all over the place; from folk to metal to pop and heavy rock, I just cannot seem get my fill! When I find myself asking for advice on some bands to listen to, I really take the feedback to heart. Recently, more than ever, I have been made aware of a band out of New Jersey that I “needed to hear” that would “change my views on local music.” Okay, so I approach the situation haphazardly, as that is a bold statement for anyone to make. However, I always take precaution when it comes to assumptions like that because I secretly hope that the group will somehow impact my life. This band goes by the name of Harper’s Fellow.

Being asked to give away tickets to their CD release show at The Saint in Asbury Park, a light bulb immediately went off that this was that ensemble everyone kept telling me about. I eagerly decided to feature them on my show. I must admit, initially, aside from all of the hype, it was their curious type of music that gripped me. Not the sound at first, but the description. “Country/folk” it stated on their Facebook, and although I didn’t pass it along at all, I just didn’t know if it would be my cup of tea. I am not a big country buff, however, I will listen to anything once. On the other hand, if you manage to sound somewhat different, and hold some talent, I will definitely give it a second listen. In this case, it was a fourth and fifth listen that had me sold. I guess it’s true what they say: listen to everything. I was actually surprised at how much I truly enjoyed this band, and it has been history ever since.

Harper’s Fellow are a five-piece country/folk outfit with a little rock and roll twist added within. Hailing from the Jersey Shore area, they aren’t quite strangers to the local music scene, yet they are still fresh and buzzworthy. Now, when I say country, don’t go thinking that this is simply a rootsy old ditty that will leave you wearing boots and stomping your feet. Not that anything is wrong with that by any means, however, there are a lot of blends of sound mixed in here.

Their new album, Thanks For Tonight, is compacted with hits just dying to be heard. It’s that kind of record that makes you want to pour a cocktail (or maybe two) and watch the sunset with your friends. Upon a few listens, it was very evident to me that they had produced an engaging, coercive disc right out of the box. Another radio personality at The Rat came right in and said, “Are you playing this on Jersey Rock?” and as he exited he said, “I totally dig it.” (Touché, DJ friend.) I personally love the track “Cadillac” the most, for it’s a strong, anthemic track. It’s fun and spunky, while also being catchy and providing listeners with something fresh and relatable. This track is just the beginning of the great sounds on the rest of the album, so this is a great one to warm up with.

“Bow & Arrow” is another excellent song, perfectly crafted and quite enjoyable. It’s easy to say here that even the album’s slowest moments have the aspects that move the music forward, preventing a listener from ever feeling tired or somewhat bored. On the whole, Thanks For Tonight has really sharpened up to be a fun record, and there’s far more to it than mostly positive, uplifting lyrics with sing-along choruses. You should also check out “Smoking Gun.” This track will be stuck in your head in no time at all. Harper’s Fellow are basically lovely, lively, and creative.

With strong guitar fills and stellar vocals by Cortney Metzler, Harper’s Fellow clearly have latched onto a winning formula within their genre, one that I call “alternative country,” because trust me, it had to have a little twang in order for me to play it on The Rat! One of the best attributes of Metzler’s is that she shows she has the powerful pipes, yet decides to also show a fragile side on some tracks as well. When watching her perform, it seems as if she pours her heart and soul into each number. This, in my opinion, is a quality of a true vocalist. Her pitch goes straight to the heart and it’s hard to get her tone out of your head once it’s entered. She has a sassy, soulful tone that has an attitude of its own, and she knows how to be emotive and powerful. Backed by an amazingly talented band, everything we have here caters to various spectrums of eclectic tastes.

I feel as if hell hath no fury on this group on their pathway to success. Aside from their recordings, also check out some of their YouTube videos, where they strip their tracks down. This really showcases just how talented they are. When all you have is a voice and a guitar, you better do something with it, and that they do. Watch their videos and see for yourself. If you enjoy their music, purchase their new record and I guarantee you will be an insta-fan from that moment on.

Be sure to check out Harper’s Fellow’s socials to find out when they are playing a show near you. Also, buy their new record and let them know you want them to keep pumping out the hits! If you like to relax to some tunes at night, they are for you. If you want to end your day on a good note, they are also for you. If you want some really good songs that you can belt out in the shower along to, then this band, once again, is for you. And if you see the genre categorization may not be for you, think again; open your ears and your mind and you may just find your next favorite band. This goes for all local music, not just Harper’s Fellow. I also seek my own advice in that category. Until next week, my friends, keep sending me music, expressing your opinions, and supporting the local music scene!