Ovlov Return with “Land of Steve-O”
Announce New LP Buds
Album out November 19th on Exploding In Sound
Formed in 2009, Ovlov are the kind of cult phenomenon that seems to never stop growing despite the stop-start pattern of the band’s existence. Led by songwriter and guitarist Steve Harlett, the Connecticut four-piece has released two LPs and a handful of EPs over the last decade and have broken up more times than they have made albums in that span, and yet their reputation (and with it their audience) has steadily expanded, largely as a result of a kind of grassroots, word-of-mouth excitement that feels of a piece with the band’s DIY origins. Fixtures at now legendary Brooklyn venues like Shea Stadium, the band’s two LPs (2013’s AM and 2018’s Tru which both saw release on the Brooklyn label Exploding In Sound) have seen them praised for picking up the torch of ’90s indie rock groups like Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, making what NPR described as “big, fuzzy rock n roll that you can drown in,” while carving out a unique sound that has had a surprisingly persistent influence on the indie rock bands that came after them.
Ovlov are returning to announce their third album Buds, which is due out on November 19th via Exploding In Sound and arrives with the single “Land of Steve-O.”
Immediately, this track greets you with this rivetting pull formed from the tempo and looped notes. The gritty tone and sweeter vocal harmonies align to provide this intoxicating atmosphere. Ovlov builds on this consuming ambiance and immersive vibe to the release, intensity ramps up and this breakout fuzz effect joins the world on certain passages of the creation. Your attention goes to the drums which bolt into attention and add this progressive element with the mighty drum fills. The instrumentation unites to powerfully add this gargantuan crescendo. The track starts with this almost summery, feel-good vibe and then ends with this crushing chaos and fierce rhythms.
The entire ensemble will leave you in awe and needing to hit repeat.
Though catchy moments are peppered throughout Ovlov’s catalog, Buds contains some of the most overtly pop ideas in the band’s catalog to date, seeing elements of the sound of Hartlett’s solo project Stove creep into the mix. This is in evidence on “Land of Steve-O,” a song that is a heartfelt song about Hartlett’s friendship with the titular Steve-O, which features backing vocals from longtime Stove (and current Bartees Strange) drummer Jordyn Blakely, that marries an earworm of a chorus to the powerful and cathartic sound the band have become known for before.
“I wrote this song after I got in some stupid argument with my father in the car, and once we got home I decided to go for a walk but ended up walking for about 2 hours and stopping to sit on a bench at the police station in the center of Newtown, Ct, where my parents raised me and still live today,” Hartlett explains. “I texted my friend Steve-O who I had been hanging out with a lot at the time. Basically anytime I was feeling like I wanted to hang out with someone, whether I was in need of someone to confide in or just wanted to chill, Steve-O was always down. He’s been an extremely important and close friend of mine since we met in the 6th grade when basically we both wrote down that Papa Roach was our favorite band on a personality questionnaire our teacher wrote for us in order to more easily make friends with the weirdos from all the other elementary school. The song is basically just about how good a guy I think Steve-O is.“
Recorded with the same producer and engineer who has handled every Ovlov album, Michael John Thomas III at his Black Lodge Studio in Brooklyn, Buds is the latest document of Ovlov’s slow and sturdy evolution. But this time, the band’s become even more of a family affair. Though Steve’s long been riffing alongside guitarist Morgan Luzzi, the band was started with Steve’s younger brother Theo on drums. This time around, their older brother Jon joined them on bass—and their dad, Ted, even stops in to rip a sax solo on “Cheer Up, Chihiro!” Considering the Hartlett brothers learned how to play music together, it’s a full circle moment as they all come together in service of making Ovlov’s most fully realized statement yet.
Opening with “Baby Shea,” Hartlett lovingly reflecting on the bond’s formed at the beloved Brooklyn venue Shea Stadium, the album starts on a note of bittersweet appreciation. “Just as the majority of my songs are about the loss of either life or love, I think the majority of the songs on this album are as well,” says Hartlett. With a pounding backbeat and thick layers of guitar fuzz, Ovlov show they’ve lost none of their vigor in the years since TRU. But while loss permeates the record, there are moments of celebration, like “Cheer Up, Chihiro!” which sees Hartlett finally finishing the Spirited Away-inspired song he’s had kicking around since the Am days but could never get just right. “It’s always been one of my favorite songs that I’ve written, most likely because I can’t help but picture scenes from Spirited Away whenever I play or hear it.”
For Buds, Ovlov once again turned to Jordyn Blakely of Stove and Smile Machine to add additional vocals to the composition. But a couple chance meetings also brought a couple new voices to the fold. After meeting at Shea Stadium, Hartlett became close with Erin McGrath from Dig Nitty and invited her to sing on two of the album’s tracks, and a random Instagram message from Alex Gehring of shoegaze icons Ringo Deathstarr culminated in her contributing backing vocals to three songs as well. The result of this communal effort is a record that’s harmonious and powerful, as Ovlov work through a heavy few years with some heavy riffing and hearty hooks. Buds is dense and dark, but Hartlett’s assertion is dead-on: these are just big, bold pop songs. It’s still Ovlov, but a more assured version, one that isn’t so shy about putting their ambitions on full display.
Buds is due out November 19th on Exploding In Sound. It is available for preorder here.
1. Baby Shea
2. Eat More
3. Land of Steve-O
4. The Wishing Well
6. Cheer Up, Chihiro!
7. Moron Pt. 2
8. Feel The Pain