Harper Lee - Dry Land

matinée 014  /  January 2000
Harper Lee - Dry Land
7"   $5.00

digital   $2.00

Harper Lee - Dry Land

matinée 014  /  January 2000

Debut 45 by an extremely promising new band from Brighton, England featuring Keris Howard (former vocalist of Sarah Records band Brighter) on vocals and guitar, and Laura Bridge (sometime member of Hood) on guitars and keyboards. With plaintive lyrics, strumming guitars, and lovely orchestration, these heartbreakingly earnest pop songs pick up nicely where Brighter left off.

  1. Dry Land
  2. No Happy Ending


Single of the year, this or any other year. Keris is still keeping a tight rein on the mournful picked-out guitar tones, trim 4/4 basslines and lyrics that lurch from sadness to anger and back again whilst the melodies rain down in traditional Brighter style. Musical support now comes from Laura Bridge of Kicker (and ex-Hood/Boyracer apparently) although for the avoidance of doubt “Dry Land” showcases none of Kicker’s bushy-tailed bright-eyed vive de joie nor the more shambolic beauty of Hood’s erstwhile lo-fi ramblings. Brighter are back, with swearing. Memo to all other bands: give up now.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
There's only one thing I can think of when listening to this: Brighter are back together under a different name. Which isn't a coincidence, given this is the new project of Keris Howard, Brighter's main songwriter. I'm not complaining, though; I really liked Brighter. Oh, and if you haven't heard them, this is best described as pastoral strummy quiet music with very plaintive vocals. Two songs - very nice. MTQ=2/2   --IndiePages
Who here remembers Brighter? Not many, I suspect. As fairly soft spoken members of the roster during the heyday of Britain’s infamous Sarah Records (since reborn as the more low-key Shinkansen), the sadly underrated trio released a few singles and EPs worth of slow and fragile pop tunes that offered a welcome change of pace for the inflammatory elitism and kiddie worship of some of their labelmates. While rabid cult followings blossomed for Heavenly and the Field Mice, Brighter remained somewhat off to the side (or so it seems to me, looking back years later from across the pond), content to quietly craft music of a much higher caliber, in my honest opinion. The band eventually split up, leaving behind a small discography of collectors’ items (most of which I acquired only through sheer luck and the kindness of label owner Matt) and an equally diminutive pack of loyal fans. More than five years later, Brighter’s singer-songwriter Keris Howard has emerged in the duo Harper Lee (with Laura Bridge on guitar and keyboards) for a no-frills single on Matinée, the same label that helped bring the much buzzed-about Lucksmiths to the attention of the indie pop scene. As a whole, this new project (presumably named after the author of To Kill A Mockingbird) hardly seems any different from the gorgeous sounds of Brighter – observe the crystalline guitar playing, those wonderfully wistful keyboard melodies, and of course, vocals so sweetly fragile that Stuart Murdoch seems almost tough by comparison. It’s precisely the formula that strikes in me a chord left untouched by so many other pop bands today.   --Skyway zine
Harper Lee are Keris Howard (ex-Brighter/Hal) and Laura Bridge who was apparently something to do with Hood and Boyracer. I may be wrong but I seem to have a vague memory of her writing for Brain Child fanzine which I believe people from Hood were involved with. Harper Lee sound nothing like Hood or Boyracer though - basically these are Brighter songs, if I didn't know this was Harper Lee I'd say it was Brighter. Brighter fans - you need this single! Two minimal indiepop songs with harsh, resentful lyrics which are a total contrast to the music itself.   --Aquamarine
Bucolic fare out of Brighton with a damp, disillusioned look in its eye.   --Chickfactor
This is Keris from Brighter and this is gorgeous jangle pop with keyboards. Very wintry and absolutely spell binding.   --Dagger