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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Hermano

...Into the Exam Room

Review by Gary Hill

With a sound that seems to marry retro blues rock with stoner metal and more alternative rock, Hermano have produced an album that’s very cool. While this might not be the most original thing you’ve ever heard, the group manage to stamp sounds you’ve heard before as definitely being theirs. In other words, they take tried and true elements and assemble them in such a way that there is a freshness and uniqueness to the whole.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Kentucky
Starting off with a sound bite, this track feels a bit like something Mountain would do – that is if Mountain took a few lessons from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a killer bluesy rock song with a great riff and we get some smoking retro echoey fuzz guitar ala stoner metal. An odd section takes it out where weird noises merge with a rendition of “Dueling Banjos.” Eventually only “Dueling Banjos” remains to take it to a short bit of weirdness to end.
Exam Room
This starts with a very early Black Sabbath like sound, but it feels like some of the guitar elements are being done with a voice. This rocker is definitely along the lines of stoner rock and early Sabbath, but I hear some Black Crowes in the mix, too.  It’s a funky groove that’s just plain awesome.
Dark Horse II
This is quite a cool track with a more mellow bluesy texture. At times this reminds me of very early Hawkwind. It’s definitely a drop back in terms of volume and crunch, but the intensity remains right up there.

Left Side Bleeding
Lest we think the band have wandered into mellow territory for good, they pound out here with one of the heaviest jams on the disc. This has a Zeppelin meets Sabbath like feel and wanders between a killer main riff and a more spacey (but still heavy) jam.  It’s one of my favorites on the CD.

Out Of Key, But In The Mood
Fuzz and power brings us in with an early AC/DC meets Sabbath type jam. This is another screamer, but has a more stripped down arrangement with an almost stuttering start and stop approach.

Hard Working Wall
This has more of a modern hard tock sound with a lot less of the retro textures. It’s a killer alternative rock jam and represents a good change of pace.
Bona-fide
They drop it back down for a more spacey sort of acoustic driven number that reminds me just a bit of “Voodoo” from Godsmack. It’s a cool number and another solid changeup.

Don't Call Your Mama
We’re back into the hard rocking grinds here with a song that calls to mind modern metal a bit, but with some definite nods to the retro blues rock that makes up so much of the band’s repertoire. You might hear Bush or Creed on this track. They move it out more towards the stoner rock as they carry on.
Adoption Boy
This song comes straight out the last one and really feels like “Part 2.” This one includes some smoking instrumental work and a great hard rocking vocal line. It’s a killer.
At The Bar
Spacey sounds are merged with sounds of children (perhaps on a playground). Add in some backwards tracked effects and you get a good image of this number. After a child says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing…” we get a drop back to an acoustic guitar based ballad that reminds me a bit of Nirvana.  The vocals, though, are more light and wispy, perhaps a bit like the mellower side of Jane’s Addition.
Our Desert Home
A sound bite that might offend some homosexual men – no, this isn’t hate speak or anything like that, but a clip of a man with a very “lispy” sort of voice – leads this off.  It gives way to another smoking hard rocking grind. This has a much more modern sound to it than some of the other music on show here. A weird section with what feels like a looped (but is probably just done without electronics) voice breaks this one up a bit.
Letters From Madrid
This is a mellow ballad that feels like it is sung by a child. While rather interesting, and entertaining, I have to wonder whether another song would have served better to close the CD.
 
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