Herzog has quietly been building a devoted following with their relentless take on guitar-driven, power-pop. Comparisons to '90s luminaries such as Built To Spill, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr., abound, all apt and warranted, but similarities with present day bands like Diarrhea Planet, Thee Oh Sees and FIDLAR are equally appropriate.
'Boys' is the new full-length by Cleveland's Herzog on Exit Stencil Recordings, the follow up to'Cartoon Violence' (2012), and is by far their most ambitious, cohesive, and sonically diverse release to date. To record the album the band sequestered themselves in the upstate New York confines of Marcata Recording and worked with acclaimed producer Kevin S. McMahon (The Walkmen, Titus Andronicus) and the results are spectacular. Thematically, 'Boys' examines the inherent contradictions and ironies of being a working / struggling musician and what exactly keeps one motivated while running on a metaphorical treadmill.
Nick Tolar's voice - part Neil Young, part Jeff Mangum - holds sway over the album, informing the well-crafted lyrics with a mood that conveys the right tenor of emotion. From the doubled-vocaled, driving attack of 'Full Stick', the Thin Lizzy style syncopated guitar solos of 'Boys Theme', and the Spector Wall of Sound on 'Satan Is Real', Herzog illustrates that they are informed by the breadth of guitar-laden music but not confined to one form of expression. Nods to the past are present but Herzog is by all means in the here and now.
'Mad Men', a reflection treatise on aging, songwriting and sense of identity, wrapped up in a chorus-laden pop masterpiece, punctuated with Rentals-esque electronics and an impenetrable wall of noise.
'Teenage Metalhead' chronicles coming of age in a rust-belt town, playing music, and becoming aware of the seedier side of life. Stacco bridges, an ode to 'Walk On The Wild Side', and an anthemic chorus that would make 'Blue Album'-era Weezer fans swoon.
'Theme For Boys', a classic mid-tempo power-pop anthem that self-referentialy examines the inner workings of band life. Distorted guitars and a driving rhythm section propel this song.
1. Full Stick
4. Bicycle Girls
5. Saint Scrapyard
6. It's Hard Getting Older
7. Boys Part 1
8. Theme For Boys
9. Oh No
10. Teenage Metal
11. Satan Is Real
12. You Are Not The Villain
13. Boys Part 2
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.