Harlow’s Monkeys’ “Fresh Terror Machine” is a call for change
Like the early work of Bob Dylan or Nina Simone, Tommy P does not mince words. He’s ready for justice to be served in the immediate present, and for that justice to carry humanity into the future.
“Don’t be naive, son, evil lives when you let that shit slide”
To say the least, 2020 has been a frustrating year to be alive. It’s maddening to see justice go unserved, and to see elected officials tossing around platitudes without results. For Bay Area musician Tommy P, he’s decided to channel that anger into song.
Harlow’s Monkeys is Tommy’s musical project, which combines poignant lyrical stories with lush orchestral indie rock sensibilities. The sound is shaped from Tommy’s symphonic production and the lush harmonies of Amanda Salguero, all complimented by the haunting guitar lines of Zeke Ketchum.
Their new single, “Fresh Terror Machine,” carries on in the tradition of protest songs. Like the early work of Bob Dylan or Nina Simone, Tommy does not mince words. He’s ready for justice to be served in the immediate present, and for that justice to carry humanity into the future. In the chorus, he says, “This is freedom / This is justice / This is the kind of world I’ll raise my kids in.” The amazing thing about these lines is its simplicity. It’s a direct call to action to listeners — do we want the future to look like today?
Musically, the sounds are reminiscent of 2010s folk-punk without sounding exhausted. The fervent acoustic guitar and the sugary melody are reminiscent of artists like Spoonboy or Emily Yacina. For a song with acoustic instruments and shakers, Tommy P and company manage to make it an absolutely lush mix, melding voices and instruments with ease. It’s a beautiful song about the bleakness of modern life.
And for Tommy P, this song is intensely personal. Tommy says, “I wrote this song as a reaction to the George Floyd lynching. I work at a non-profit where we record the political commentaries of incarcerated folks and provide a platform for them to be heard, and so I am quite familiar with the brutality and racism this country is capable of.” Tommy has a lot of questions, and this song offers up those queries to the universe. Tommy asks, “How do people get to a place where they’re so indifferent to another person’s life that their freedom is an infringement upon yours? The song is an attempt to walk through the process of seeing terrible shit online, digesting it, and concluding that there’s a lot of work to do internally before any of it is going to get better.”
For many of us, this year has been filled with those same questions. The members of Harlow’s Monkeys stand in solidarity with those affected by injustice, and asks us to join them. Will you?
Listen to the single below: