Release Date 05/20/2014
(Exit Stencil Recordings)
Cleveland, Ohio’s 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 — apt and warranted — but similarities with present-day bands like Diarrhea Planet, Thee Oh Sees and FIDLAR are equally appropriate.
Boys is the Herzog’s new album on Exit Stencil Recordings and is, by far, their most ambitious, cohesive, and sonically diverse album 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, what exactly keeps one motivated while apparently on a 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 and of emotion. From the doubled-vocaled, driving attack of “Full Stick,” to the Thin Lizzy-style synchopated guitar solos of “Theme For Boys,” to 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.
Boys covers a lot of lyrical ground as well. “Mad Men” is a reflection treatise on aging, songwriting, and sense of identity, punctuated with Rentals-esque electronics and an impenetrable wall of noise. “Theme For Boys” is classic mid-tempo power-pop anthem that self-referentialy examines the inner working of band life, propelled by distorted guitars and a driving rhythm section.
Nods to the past are present, but Herzog is by all means in the here and now. Boys is as catchy as it is diverse, inventive as it is informed, melodic as it is sonic, and enjoyable as it is enrapturing.
1. Full Stick2. Henchmen3. Mad Men4. Bicycle Girls5. Saint Scrapyard6. It’s Hard Getting Old7. Boys Part 18. Theme For Boys9. Oh No10. Teenage Metalhead11. Satan Is Real12. You Are Not The Villain13. Boys Part 2