The first track on Herzog’s new album Cartoon Violence is “Fuck This Year” but don’t let the title fool you. This is a jangly sunshiny number that has angular changes and a hip-shaking groove, acting as a harbinger of good things to come.
Herzog are a new band (much like Surfer Blood) that swims in the same waters of late 90’s indie guitar rock made popular by Modest Mouse and Built To Spill. The guitars are layered and textured at times reaching arena ready levels while the grooves always seem incredibly bouncy. The lyrics are secondary and at times buried to deep but focus on heartbreak or distance without ever becoming bitter.
The meaty “Rich People Ballad” is an enchanting journey through Peter Frampton era rock before getting gritty to close while “You Clean Up Nice” sounds like an outtake from Weezer’s Blue Album. The band is blissfully poppy with a folkies twist on “Dreaming Man II” proving they can scale things down with equal grace as revving them up on the disk closing abrasive “Alexander The Great”.
The band doesn’t do bleak so well on “Feedback” but there is a trippy 60’s British vibe that keeps the track from becoming dull, same with their modern day war song “You’re Son Is Not A Solider” which is effective, but ends before satisfying. After the full album flows by it makes you want to hit play again proving Herzog is onto something that works with Cartoon Violence.