Harvey Milk

Life... the Best Game in Town (Hydra Head)

During its initial run, between 1992 and 1998, the Athens, Ga., band Harvey Milk recorded three albums of lumbering, emotionally overwrought existential dirges that drew equally from the Melvins and Leonard Cohen, with the occasional ass-shaking ZZ Top boogie riff thrown in to counter the overwhelming gloom. Few people ever heard those discs, but a series of reissues and the new album Special Wishes in 2006 prompted a miniature Harvey Milk revival.

Life... the Best Game in Town finds Harvey Milk expanding its scope. The addition of former Melvins/High on Fire bassist Joe Preston rounds out the already stomach-churning bottom end, and Creston Spiers' wounded-seal howl remains as tortured as ever. "Roses" is a sort of summation of it all, a fragile, nearly inaudible acoustic introduction followed by a four-minute tumult of noise and melody, with Spiers' sharp guitar leads cutting through the almost-solid mass of distortion. It's not an easy listen, for a couple of reasons—it's demanding, off-putting music, for one thing, but it can also be a little silly in its earnest account of suffering. But if you're looking to feel miserable, there are few bands that have ever done it better.