There’s never an inappropriate time to discover one of the best bands you’ve ever heard…
A truly phenomenal record isn’t something you listen to a couple times, maybe make clever comparison, then push your five hundred word count article through by Friday. My opinion is it’s something that for one to completely grasp the genius of or maybe lack of genius, takes time. This is how you end up with Rolling Stone labeling Weezer’s Pinkerton as one of 1996’s worst, only to give it a five star “re-review” eight years down the road. Even I’ve been known for not liking something at first to then admit my mistakes at a later date. Talking to you Gorillaz, yes, at one point in my life I thought the Gorillaz were just okay. I’m sorry.
I’m not much use in the “day an album drops review” category, however I’m trying to figure out ways to bring more musically driven content to Nerdbot. For my first attempt it’s sort of a combination review slash awareness piece about a band I feel everyone should know about and be listening to… Herzog, from Cleveland.
Some of you know I recently moved to Los Angeles from the Forest City and the planets lined up perfectly for me to write about one of my favorite former local bands. Plus I feel the realm of music nerdery is one that’s drastically overlooked compared to more prominent elements of nerd culture.
So… Herzog released their fourth record Me vs. You on February 22nd. Yes, all albums come out on Friday now instead of Tuesday. Following up their 2014 just shy of masterpiece Boys, Me vs. You picks up right where it’s predecessor left off. Furthering the band not only as a persona but as legitimate songwriters that can be compelling and quirky at the same time. Underneath the layers of tight distorted riffs lies a voice that truly captures life in the Rust Belt while being accessible to a person living in the desert, or in the city, or the suburbs, or wherever.
And I’ll tell you outright, Herzog sounds just as good when you’re driving through the desert as it does when you’re chilling at home on a cold drunken Sunday night in C-Town.
Now it’s probably a good idea for me to describe what Herzog sounds like… a basic classification would be alternative rock. Easily under that umbrella. At times heavy, but not in the sense that there’s a million distortion pedals or microphone gargling. Somewhere between Smash Offspring and Let It Be Relplacements. There’s evidence of bar band punk coupled with Craig Finn’s sense of humor though you don’t have as many lyrics to memorize as a Hold Steady song. There’s also real depth to Herzog’s compositions, they have a plus seven minute track on Boys called “You Are Not The Villain” that offers the full scope of what Nick Tolar, Brian Hill, Tony Vorell, Dave McHenry, and Dan Price are truly capable of.
Speaking about Me vs. You specifically, I can hear a ton of different influences. For some reason I believe Dinosaur Jr. to be the easiest comparison. A punk, grunge blend at it’s core with tons of wiggle room. Songs like “Music Was The Language From When I Mattered” and “Living Wrong” are snappy, shorter uptempo numbers that balance the slower jams like “Winter 2014”. Which I can say from personal experience was a real shitty winter. “Little Bugs” and “Amps II Eleven” seem to give a nod to “when they rock out” My Morning Jacket or Band Of Horses.
If you don’t believe me, check out the video for “Little Bugs” below!
Doesn’t that sound like something off of Mirage Rock but better?
When you think about “Cleveland Music” probably Bone Thugs or the phrase “Rock-n-Roll” comes to mind. We haven’t done too much musically since helping Detroit invent punk rock but sometimes someone from Cleveland garners themselves some national attention. Maybe a Pitchfork review (Obnox, I heart you) or landing a spot on Rolling Stone’s “Best Of” list. Recently the Cloud Nothings, Machine Gun Kelly (that’s what MGK stands for) have been the face of music from the Sixth City. But after a descent more of the same record and co-starring in Bird Box, I feel Herzog is more of a true representation of Lake Erie life. It’s time for a new face of the Cleveland music scene to emerge to bring recognition to the North Shore in something other than food or sports.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the Russo Brothers are from Cleveland.
Have you ever wondered why a local band isn’t the biggest band in the world? Then after a couple listens you can hear the answer to your question. With Herzog, I legitimately have no idea why they aren’t more popular. Especially after hearing what our country calls popular music. With only four albums available on Spotify, and two of them are sick AF, the group is poised to do something special. So if you’ve ever wanted to get in on basically the ground floor of a band, there couldn’t be a better time than now.
If you dig Me vs. You… you’ll love Boys.
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits- Stephe DK/Dan Price/Suzuran Photography
Who are some of your favorite bands nobody has heard of?? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!