One of the great things about being an old geezer indie-rock fan is knowing how to position yourself for the little thrills of new discoveries that keep you coming back for more.
There’s a band at the Fine Line Tuesday night, a quintet from Brooklyn known as the Harlem Shakes, that has cultivated a buzz in indie-rock circles as deftly as Michelle Obama played the notion of a White House vegetable garden. After three or four years of germination, gigging and personnel moves, they put out the requisite slick and shaggy EP, “Burning Birthdays,” two years ago, performed some concerts that proved they could add the extra live dimension to their material, then waited until this March for the proper full-length debut, “Technicolor Health.”
The record is modestly delightful, ironing new wrinkles into the time-honored indie-rock formula of winsome melodies and ironic narcissism. Drummer Brent Katz favors the polyrhythmic flourishes common to indigenous African and Latin music, and vocalist-lyricist Lexy Benaim has an appealing habit of being slightly laconic and world-weary narrating his upbeat tales and contrastingly a little hopeful when the message is slightly downcast. The effect, once the peppy beats are tie-dyed in relatively classic indie-rock guitars and keyboards, is both nuanced and positive-thinking. The abiding cliché would be that Harlem Shakes makes sunny pop music.
Here’s where a little geezer experience comes into the picture. The Shakes have been together for a long time, have played all over the place and established a buzz-worthy live reputation, and are touring behind propulsive new material that won’t lose its fiber and texture onstage. Put simply, the circumstances are in place to make this one of the absolute best times to catch the quintet — or any indie-rock band in a similar circumstance — on the rise in an intimate venue.
Here is the group’s MySpace page previewing four songs, three from the new disc. Here is a too-up-close-and-personal video from a live show three months ago that suffers in sound quality as a result.
Here and here are some other live samples.
Harlem Shakes at The Fine Line Music Café, Tuesday, May 19, 8 p.m., a mere $10 cover. Military Special opens.