This is a heavy-duty record, kind of how you would imagine the inside of Einstein’s head: moments of beautiful clarity surrounded by tense, anxious technicality. That ability to rein in all these frantic ideas really highlights one of the band’s strengths — control. This is trumped only by the solid playing throughout the record, which shifts unnoticeably between tracks on lush soundscapes. The drumming and guitar playing is technical without getting stale, while the keys embellish tastefully with ambient sounds and leads that don’t attempt to overpower. Lead singer Vinny DiFranco has got some goddamn pipes, that’s all I can say.
For some reason these guys always get lumped into the stoner-metal genre, which doesn’t make much sense. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will listen to this stoned, but the same could be said for a Willie Nelson record. Does that make it stoner rock? Writers are a bunch of dicks.
Herzog Cartoon ViolenceHerzog
This Cleveland five-piece has been hitting it hard since their debut release “Searches.” They also seem to have taken a bit of a step away from the lo-fi, ’90s indie rock sound. On “Cartoon Violence” the band takes more of a pop stance, evident in the opener “Fuck This Year.” Catchy title.
Throughout the record the group blends pop-leaning indie rock with misanthropic lyrics, making for an interesting juxtaposition. But then again, doesn’t all decent art present that near oxymoronic duality?
There are a number of real catchy numbers on this disc, but the real standout track is “Dreaming Man II,” which brings to mind Elliott Smith’s more Beatlesque tunes, with a subtle country vibe provided by reverbed-out slide parts. – Rory Axelrod