Arts & Entertainment : Music
Brooklyn’s Beach Boys
By Patricia Feghali
Spectator Staff Writer
April 13, 2004
Who said there was no surf rock in New York City? Whoever it was–and I assume someone somewhere did say such a thing–had certainly never heard Hieronymus Bosch, perhaps Brooklyn’s finest surf-rock band. The band consists of suit-wearing superstar leader Matt Harrison, CC ’02 and a former Spectator editor, on guitar, drummer extraordinaire Holt Richardson, Tony Pei on bass, and newcomer Andrew Raff on keyboards and sax. These boys know how to throw a party, and everybody’s invited, so long as they wear a bikini.
Their new album, the aptly named Havin’ Fun, Soundin’ Good, is not only easy to listen and dance to, but it’s catchy to boot. You might have thought that all those Brooklyn hipster bands did was stand still and drone on about their astoundingly cool poverty level, but this is one band that convulses on stage just as much as you will in the crowd. Richardson’s arms move at speeds unthinkable to most drummers, and Harrison has perfected the frantic guitar playing that he had brought to his previous band, the Space Program, resulting in what can only be termed a blast of auditory and visual brilliance.
Harrison and Richardson are the Mick and Keith of the group, as they told me later. Before both moving to New York they went to high school and played music together in Virginia Beach, Va., which Richardson admitted “might not be the Mecca of surfing, but it’s at least a surfing Medina or Islamabad.” Did I also mention that they’re clever?
It is unusual these days to find a band that can not only sound good live, but also put together a fine recording. Hieronymus Bosch seems to be one of those rarities. The band is very tight, and rips through these tracks like they’ve been playing them all their lives. Claiming Man–or Astroman–as a big influence, Harrison and company nevertheless make music that is all their own, showing more of an allegiance to old-fashioned fun in the sun than to changing the world through perfect chord progression. And this makes the band a refreshing break from all the wannabe political groups out there. Hieronymus Bosch doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, and lives up to everything it is: good clean fun that may, or may not, rot your liver.