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ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC

Essential New Music: Mic Harrison And The High Score’s “Bright Spot”

Bright Spot could be labeled “bar-band music,” but while that tag is often used pejoratively, it’s the highest of praise here. The new self-released outing from Mic Harrison And The High Score is full of loud, pure power pop/rock meant to be heard in a crowded venue full of happy, sweaty people who’ve maybe had a drink or seven. Perhaps someday.

The solid Bright Spot’s joys range from the echoes of Badfinger on “What You Want” (a perfect two-and-a-half-minute pop song) to the punkish energy of “I Need Some Change.” Harrison—formerly of the V-Roys, the Faults and, briefly, Superdrag—fronts the quintet (what gave that away?); drummer Don Coffey Jr. (also of Superdrag), bassist Vance Hillard and guitarists Kevin Abernathy and Robbie Trosper (also of the Faults) fill it out. Harrison generally handles the bulk of the band’s songwriting and penned or co-penned nine of Bright Spot’s 15 tunes, but the work is spread around a bit: Trosper contributed four songs and Abernathy, a new addition, wrote two.

“It wasn’t a conscious effort,” Harrison says of the shared duties. “Myself, Vance and Robbie have been playing together for years. Robbie has always brought in songs, and now with Kevin—who’s a badass on his own—we’ve got more songs than we can record. We just started piling songs up and boom, pandemic. So this was just the beginning. We could‘ve made a double album easily.”

COVID-19—as it does with everything—somewhat screwed up initial plans for finishing Bright Spot. Fortunately, the basic tracks and most of the vocals were completed pre-lockdown at the band’s Knoxville, Tenn., practice space.

“We shifted operations to my house for mixing,” says Coffey. “Doing that by text message was tough, especially with three songwriters. When I felt like I had it in the ballpark, I would set up the patio for a social-distancing listening party. It took longer than it usually does, but it all worked in the end.”

Despite the number of creative forces around, Harrison felt compelled to seek out guitar wizard Doug Gillard of obscure indie rockers Guided By Voices for assistance while crafting lead track “Let The Motor Run.” Gillard, a fine songwriter as well, played on Harrison’s 2007 solo LP Pallbearer’s Shoes, and the pair has remained in touch.

“I kept feeling a Doug presence,” says Harrison. “So I sent him a phone recording, and he came back with the bridge and a twist on the melody within minutes. He’s a busy man, so I’m happy we can write songs over text. I’d never done that before.”

Matt Hickey