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Herman Jolly
Bunker Life
Fortune Records
www.hermanjolly.com


Presidential elections, the Olympics and Herman Jolly records come every four years like clockwork. Outside his work with Portland indie rockers Sunset Valley, Jolly has indulged in gin-soaked country on Mad Cowboy Disease and the gentle folk and mellow AM gold pop of Thanasphere. Where these are stuffed with sharp humor, the gently psychedelic Bunker Life favors cryptic descriptions of vague situations.

"Candy Stairs" states straight faced, "Bring back comet/ helium face/ slink back shadows/ cut down the human race/ singin' a new song to a little Cairo girl." The word puzzles smuggle Beatles harmonies in an unvented truck fueled by Beck-ish studio tricks. The unnecessary cover of "Yesterday" is overkill; we get the Fab Four reference without it. Playful acoustic guitar and lilting, almost apologetic vocals on "Get Dizzy" bring up J. Mascis. A glimpse of his wit sneaks through when "Key On A Kite" mentions a girl with a bloody baseball bat and a boy with a bloody baseball head.

Like Andrew Bird's Weather Systems, take out the cleverness and you're left with relaxing poetic intelligence. Jolly's MySpace page claims he sounds, "Pretty much exactly like Pantera, but tighter and with more drums." Let's see more funny stuff like this in the music next time. Bob Dole would be Commander In Chief had he showed more of his comedic side. Herman Jolly in 2011.

-Ewan Wadharmi


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