While his former bandmate Josh Homme rides QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE to platinum success, ex-KYUSS vocalist John Garcia can't seem to get his shit together, comparatively speaking. First emerging with the short-lived SLO BURN project, he then helmed UNIDA, who signed to American Recordings and spent $350,000 on a debut CD that still languishes in the label's vaults. With his other band, HERMANO, Garcia uses his distinctive yowl to mine familiar desert-rock turf, with somewhat enjoyable, if predictable results.
I'm reminded of when Karl Agell and Phil Swisher formed the rockin' LEADFOOT after their departure from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY in the mid-1990s. The modus operandi seems to be same for HERMANO — forget trying to top the records that put you on the map, just set up and jam out some three-chord good time rock and roll. Garcia sounds awesome, and his cultists — the KYUSS devotees who hang on his every garbled yowl — will be beside themselves.
The material, while decent, falls into the "mostly harmless" category, with not much really reaching out and grabbing the listener. "Life", "Is This OK?" and "Brother Bjork" sound like second-rate QOTSA b-sides, but "My Boy" is pure, dark-tinged desert rock menace with ample room for Garcia's distinctive vocals. The man's "crazy/hazy/baby" lyrics, never that good, are laughably hackneyed here. Just try to sit through "Quite Fucked" or "Angry American" without rolling your eyes!
Check out opening track "Cowboys Suck" and you'll know if HERMANO is for you. Basic goat-floating desert-gritty heavy metal topped with incoherent primal howl, nothing that holds a candle to anything in the KYUSS discography, but a pretty good time nonetheless. Some people will fetishize this album because of Garcia's pedigree, or the fact that he hasn't sold out (read: made any money) like Homme, or just due to a bottomless desire for second-tier stoner rock. If that's you, go for it — "Dare I Say" is a perfectly pleasant diversion, but I can't see myself digging this out much for repeated listens.