H.D. Harmsen – Papoose

March 17, 2013

Artist: H.D. Harmsen; Album: Papoose; Release #: MAR10Release Date: 04/30/2013
Formats: LP/CD/DL

There’s no one else like H.D. Harmsen. He stands over a precipitous divide, one foot balanced on the shoulders of the Gershwin brothers and another in the hands of Lou Reed, with Brian Wilson calmly whispering words of encouragement. Harmsen is one of the few songwriters bridging the gap of the classic American songbook with the ever-curious wave of progressivism rippling through this country’s underground scenes and splashing every couple weeks onto the music media’s radar. Harmsen proudly holds up the flag of New Sincerity, smiling with glee and embracing sentimentality. And these aren’t just words. The music stands behind him. With an album that features everything from strings-laden chamber pop to Tin Pan Alley to crunchy rock and roll and folk-punk love songs, Harmsen shows he’s sings what he means and he means what he sings. The debut record from H.D. Harmsen serves as a portrait of the artist as a mature musician, and a bedrock for the shape of Harmsen’s work to come.


Be sure to download the title track for free!





All his life, H.D. Harmsen has stood behind the scenes. Backstage, out of the light. In the studio, but not on the screen. With Papoose, he steps forward. H.D. Harmsen has already acquired an astute and accomplished reputation in the Iowa music scene as a supporting cast member of multiple outfits. After playing for years in a number of bands, Harmsen now finds himself contributing listful guitar lines to the piano and soul act Christopher the Conquered and providing the foundation as bassist for rock band Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires. He lurks in the shadows of pit orchestras and behind piles of notation tablets, having arranged strings for the much-awaited debut solo effort of The Poison Control Center‘s Patrick Tape Fleming, known as Gloom Balloon. Patrick has been a huge supporter of Harmsen’s, bringing the experience of playing hundreds of live shows, touring with the likes of The Apples In Stereo and even having Max Weinberg sit in on drums for a show. Patrick has also produced multiple Poison Control Center records, receiving rave reviews from Pitchfork and making it onto dozens of year-end best lists more than a handful of times. More recently, he produced the debut LP for Afternoon Records’ recording artist Dolfish, a record which has been praised by the likes of American Songwriter and Paste, and has garnered the attention of Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich.

Papoose was produced by another protege of Patrick’s, Chris Ford of Christopher the Conquered, whose work has been featured by MagnetConsequence of Sound, and others. Ford & Harmsen created a special bond in the century-old dilapidated schoolhouse where they recorded the album, in small-town Lovilia, Iowa, coalmining capital of a great state that’s known for a lot of things, coal typically not being one of them; perhaps soon, the sign outside of Lovilia will read “LOVILIA: BIRTH PLACE OF PAPOOSE”. We’re willing to bet on it.

We here at Maximum Ames Records really can’t get over the fact that we’re releasing H.D. Harmsen’s debut album, Papoose.

The collectible vinyl version of the album comes with a foldout photo collage and lyrics sheet. Each LP, produced on high quality virgin vinyl, also comes with a unique download code for a free digital version of the album. Why? Because we love you.

Both the LP and CD version of the album come in beautifully crafted packages, designed by Des Moines artist Avalan Wilson.

You can also order a digital copy if that’s the way you like it. A unique download code will be sent to your email address, giving you access to 3 downloads of the album.


“One minute [Harmsen is] singing something that sounds like an old American standard, the next he’s crushing guitar solos and singing with punk-like aggression. The dynamic shifts and genre switches make this album one of the most fun listening experiences of 2013 so far.” Josh Terzino, Music Defined

“With Papoose, H.D. Harmsen has made an incredibly assured debut album that’s as diverse as a world traveler, but still as uniquely Iowan as Templeton Rye…the ease with which Papoose slides into [different] genres is truly staggering.” A- Jeremy Hoffman,  The Milk Carton

“Somehow, through his persistence and charm, Harmsen manages to make a true multi-genre album that somehow succeeds in being all things to all people.” David Murphy, Des Moines Is Not Boring
“[Harmsen offers thoughts on love] in a way that treats the subject like the mediocre, but sensational and stimulating, multi-layered onion that we’ve come to understand very little and a whole lot about.” Sean Moeller, Daytrotter


#3 Top Album and #9 Top Track of 2013 – Des Moines Is Not Boring


Best of 2013 Picks – Iowa Public Radio


The record comes with a download card packaged in it! You’ll use this to access your digital version. Thank you!

Order H.D. Harmsen - Papoose