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The Herms 

Record Machine

Wednesday, May 3 2006
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The Herms' full-length debut, Record Machine, has a fitting title. Most indie rock bands these days are like computers, extracting hooks 'n' sounds from their fave records and craftily synthesizing them into catchy, patchwork pop — something this San Fran duo (augmented by an ever-rotating drummer) does quite well. On such cuts as "All the Things You Do" and "Get on," vocalist and axeman Matt Lutz's deadpan drawl channels equal portions Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman, and the Strokes' Julian Casablancas, while the backing instrumentation on all 15 tracks cites a goddamn truckload of classics, including the punchy keyboards of the Stranglers, the angular garage of Swell Maps and the Sonics, the Moles' minimal Brit pop, the programmed grooves of Madchester, Devo-fried new wave, and the New Zealand jangle of the Chills and the Clean. But unfortunately, Record Machine lacks two things: raw, prickly production (it's way too flat) and nervous intensity. You see, the Herms don't sound desperate, manic, and passionate like their heroes, something that makes me want to poke their skinny little asses with an electric cattle prod and scream, "Now rock!"

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Justin F. Farrar

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