Herman Düne

Mas Cambios

/track & field; 2003/




more info:

It’s already the fourth full-length by these ex-Swedish, Paris based, Peel-supported (5 sessions for the moment), indie, half-tuned Silvertone users. It was recorded in NYC with the help of Jeffrey Lewis and the participation of Anti-folk hipsters but let’s not elaborate on this.

The Herman Dune bros sing the blues, if not rhythmically and theoretically speaking, in terms of emotion. Numerous vocal guests sometimes transforming into a lo-fi choir add a bluesy dimension to the music (e.g. ‘Sunny sunny cold cold day’, ‘Show me the roof’). This kind of bluesy folk embodied recently by the Palace Brothers. In fact, Herman Dune has never been so close to Palace Brothers (and subsequently to Neil Young) on Mas Cambios, yet it appears as their least album even though it is highly commendable. HD’s blues sounds urban while Oldham’s seems pastoral. In this respect, their music is to be associated with David Grubbs (Rickets & Scurvy). They definitely belong to the indie-pop world and if other references could be mentioned (Lou Barlow, Bill Callahan, fucked-up Nick Drake…), Herman Dune’s music is undeniably suffused with idiosyncrasy, both in sound and lyrics.

On the one hand lo-fi laid-back ballads such as ‘Winners Love’ convey some bluesy charm reminiscent of Palace Brothers (circa Arise Therefore when Ned Oldham occasionally backed up his brother singing) but they have an urban casualness about them that makes them awkward from time to time. On the other hand, there are a couple of mid-tempo indie-pop songs in which the band achieves a truly fulfilling quality. Too bad those songs aren’t predominant. ‘My friends Kill my Folks’ is so catchy that its hooks just stick to your mind for the remainder of the day like ‘Billie’ (Switzerland Heritage) or ‘Backyard Berries’ on Fire ep… In addition, there are always some catch lines in the lyrics. ‘In August’ becomes a truly touching song when AHD almost indifferently sings ‘everybody dies in august when no one cries’…

They write in the inside sleeve ‘Indie-rock is very very good’ and they like to let you know. If you don’t like namedropping, don’t even try to listen to HD because they are fond of it or maybe they just like to associate experiences with palpable aspects of life… their references are good anyway so what the hell ?? Yesterday Martin Donovan and Sonic Youth, today Clark Gable, Yo La Tengo and Daniel Johnston to whom ‘You stepped on sticky fingers’ seems to be dedicated, its chorus being sang in a typical Daniel Johnston fashion.

The front sleeve is a joke itself, self-indulgent and surrealist at once, self-indulgent because they really look like these two white trash bearded and hairy rednecks and surrealist because it takes guts to release such a sleeve knowing that it will immediately repulse quite a few indie-folk diggers who wouldn’t realize how funny the band can be. For example in ‘At Your Luau’, the singer says ‘I want a haircut that kills, I want it in front of my eyes, I want to wear tight jeans and raglan sweaters…’

Finally we could make inferences regarding the album’s title which is probably a joke. We like to think that bands do not choose titles just after jokes though. We might be too much idealistic… Anyway, why Mas Cambios (which can be translated as Much Change according to reliable Spanish-speaking help)? The very fact to title the album this way when the band’s music doesn’t particularly change is itself a joke. The choice of Spanish language could be granted to the fact that nothing ever changes that much in Spain. It’s awfully stiflingly hot, girls easily undress, people always talk loud, you have to buy water if you want some drinkable beverage apart from the local brewage named cerveza, and don’t ever think of resting at night if you’re hanging with Spaniards, they always keep partying and never know to stop, which might be HD’s case too since they have released another album at the same time…

-Blacklisted "Hillbilly" Igor

/oct 15th 2003/