Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The way that I described Har Mar Superstar, or Sean Tillmann, four years ago, went something like this:
"Tillmann presents his sex drive as that of a no shame and will do everything it takes to bed a hottie kind of guy, though he pulls it off with some form of decency, because his songs are constructed along the lines of a brilliant lineage of other covertly written songs about boning and very simple, animal attraction. So many songs skate that fine line, using a softer and prettier language to say the same thing that Tillmann always wants to say - something along the lines of, "Let's fuck, honey." It just sounds different when Joni Mitchell says it in a song or when Leonard Cohen goes there, right? Har Mar Superstar lets it all just hang out -- more so than you're ready for sometimes, when it comes to that portion of the live performance when bare chests, naked legs and just a small pair of tight underwear stand between you and an X-rated fella, and he makes it perfectly clear what he wants. He offers, in "I Got Next" from his latest record "Dark Touches," "Blood flow, full-grown, now everybody know," and we're looking at a grand hard-on reference, one that John Mayer or the Black Eyed Peas would never have the gall or the balls to make. It's just because they'd dance around the real reason they wrote that dance club song in the first place. They'd deny that they were looking for amply endowed women to toss their cares aside and just transgress a little bit, get sweaty and get messy and loud -- to tell someone that you want to taste their applesauce and not have it mean applesauce, not even close.
Some of that is still there, on Har Mar's latest album, "Bye Bye 17," the first for The Strokes' Julian Casablancas' new Cult Records imprint, but it's been seasoned quite a bit, moving more into the realm of those ringers from yore, those R&B songs that served so many damned purposes that you lost count. They were there - as always - to get a lay, but so many of them were chronicles of the lays gone wrong and what happened after the connection was made, when things got real and when real things got serious. Almost without fail, those casual flings and the drunken romps end up taking turns that no one ever expected and the shortest fling might leave some lasting marks and reverberations that could make anyone want to soak themselves. With "Bye Bye 17," some things have come to pass and many of those innocent flirtations and hookups have played themselves out. Har Mar takes us to those points where you kick yourself for the dumb shit you've done, sure, but he mostly takes us to those places where the dumb shit actually led to something great that was sunk by a second wave of dumb shit and that's where it always gets interesting. These are the impassioned, soulful tales of a man in a halfway house of love.