Posted on October 20th, 2021
[as seen on Stereogum]
Steve Hartlett is very disappointed to hear that I broke my foot at his gig. I am speaking with the Ovlov frontman after a cancelled visit to his New Haven home and half a week of phone tag, discussing the band’s first show back — and also mine — at The Broadway in Brooklyn in early August. He laughs upon being reminded that at one point that night he played guitar with a dustbin: “I’m so anxious leading up to and while we’re playing that it’s a bit of a blur.” But he takes on a more concerned tone upon hearing about my injury. “People were going a little too crazy,” Hartlett says with a sigh. “I was very concerned that someone would get hurt and apparently I was right.”
On the other hand, a raging crowd at an Ovlov show is to be expected because people tend to get pretty excited about this band. Hartlett has devoted his entire life to music. He has a solo project called Stove, he plays in longtime collaborator Jordyn Blakely’s band Smile Machine from time to time, he releases some music under just his full name (most recently September’s Waste Of Water), and there are probably other vessels through which engages in music making or playing. But Ovlov — whose lineup is currently Hartlett on vocals and guitar, his brothers Theo on drums and Jon on bass, and Morgan Luzzi on guitar — is his longest-running, best-loved project.
Despite a couple of breakups here and there, Ovlov have been around for a little over a decade and have amassed a cult following through both DIY shows and the Spotify algorithm. Their hit “Where’s My Dini?” off their 2013 debut full-length Am is the starting point for most; either that, or anything from their last record, 2018’s TRU. It doesn’t matter much where a listener starts with Ovlov — their music, for the most part, has retained a distinctive fast, fuzzy sound in line with indie and alternative staples like Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill, and early Foo Fighters. It has been consistently great, too, which has won them deep respect among their peers in New England indie rock.
“Steve has a sense of melody that almost feels classical, like a song you can’t believe didn’t exist before he wrote it,” writes Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13, who was based out of Massachusetts when Ovlov were getting their start in nearby Connecticut. It’s an insightful read on Hartlett, who tells me he thinks of himself like a classical composer. Dupuis has been playing alongside Ovlov since the beginning, and she’s sung vocals on some of their songs. “He knows how to find the notes and inflections that will make the line or the chord special and powerful,” Dupuis continues. “It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the greatest guitarists I’ve ever seen. Ovlov have been the biggest band in the world to me since around 2009 and I’m glad everyone else is catching up.”
Read the entire feature HERE.