Heros Severum
Gig Seeker Pro

Heros Severum

Band Rock Punk

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"Promising indie rock band comes at you with blustery post-rock and easygoing peach state twang all at once. 7.9 rating"

My first, promising reaction: What a weird band. They come at you with blustery post-punk and easygoing Peach State twang all at once, one vocalist (Eric Friar) coughing clenched half-syllables, the other (Sheryl Branch) honoring the homeland in silken diphthongs. Percussive clatter, wormy synths, shrill interlocking guitars, and sax skronk play musical chairs around lots of really interesting melodies. Clearly this trio has studied its Jawbox and Burning Airlines LPs, taken additional cues from Smart Went Crazy, the Dismemberment Plan, Les Savy Fav, and Giddy Motors, and simplified those sources to a basic linear geometry. The Athens thing is a red herring: Except a brief spate of ethereal vocal harmonics on "A Nice Haircut" and some of Branch's backup singing, nothing here bespeaks a psychedelic indolence. Plague Dogs reaches even further back into the 90s for its frissons.
What, because we're into the second half of this decade bands can start cribbing from the second half of the last? If they do it as confidently, creatively, and playfully as Heros Severum, I say let 'em go nuts. Plague Dogs weatherstrips sorta-obscure vestiges of late 90's indie rock, reminding us of when syncopation was cool and J. Robbins recorded every fourth album. Whereas Robbins' projects tended to spotlight thick, sludgy/funky bass, Heros Severum do without the instrument altogether. When your drummer's as good as Davey Staton, having a pared-down (read: one man) rhythm section is emancipating, like Little Timmy losing his training wheels. Staton performs many tricks, including limber open stroke rolls ("3kh2") and dizzying tom-kick whirligigs ("And Introducing"). Guitars prove their chops by keeping up, weaving polyrhythmic formworks. Near-constant vocals give direction to the cosmology, but some songs satisfy a wanderlust through hypnotic call-and-response vamps. In other words, Heros Severum are the kind of band that could list "jam band" on Myspace for larfs and wouldn't be lying entirely.

Dare you to call their bluff, but the could-be-joking bits function as well as humor-- even when they essay smarmy rap slang. "And Introducing..." first practices less-is-more around the vocal, drawing focus to Branch's jive talk ("Got a chicken neck, coke bottle, broken back spine/ Better watch it, man, 'fore I whoop your behind"), then, as if to contraindicate such use of singsongy hip-hop affect, the band let rip on some intricate kicks, words ousted by floating vowel sounds. Friar's lyrics are uniformly terse and nonsensical; he sings like he lacks the breath for more than one or two syllables at a time. The style enables him to issue galvanizing rally cries, which sound more meaningful than they probably are. On "Sick Dog", at what may be the album's apogee, he screams fearlessly, "Can't keep a brother down," over molten sax blurt. "A Nice Haircut" asks, "Were ya raised proper?" (like this is a band to talk!), then schools in skeletal groove, tamped down tight and shot from Gang of Four's stiff-is-the-new-loose bazooka. Heros Severum are obviously not the first to use levity as a foil against what's at heart complex and quite measured songwriting, but they've made it the crux of a surprisingly fresh record.


-Sam Ubl, February 21, 2006

- Pitchfork Media


"A four Star track review for the song "A Sick Dog"."

Give Heros anything past its expiration date-- rock sax skronk, pro-drums drums, sliced-and-diced Jawbox oversyncopation, and (while at it) J. Robbins rockdude clenched croon-- they'll eat that shit up. But "A Sick Dog" is no mere trash compactor. Having missed the it's-not-'94 memo, the band plates masterful scrap-heap cuisine with a little help from modern sources. Drippy with dementia praecox ("Find yourself infected, you'll be treated like a sick dog"), the scream-chorus ("Can't keep a brother down!") is less like minstrelsy and more like Bush-paranoid scatology. The drums just chill the hemlock, breaking stomp only to rip face-melting fills. - Pitchfork Media


"Heros Severum appear dead-intent on bucking the norm."

It would appear that historically, the instinct to shake that ass must be somehow connected with political and social consciousness. From Sly and the Family Stone to Gang of Four to Blur circa Parklife, the gluteus maximus has often orbited around music that seemed to have presupposed a vital relationship between the kinetics of movement and the absorption of political point-of-view.

The prevalence of albums that mine the relationship seems, however, to have kicked the jumping bucket since the mid-‘90s. Exceptions exist – the pseudo-intellectualism of art-hop artists is one such example – but as Mr. Chet Betz will wryly point out, most of them rehash mellow, watered-down themes of resistance to self-defeatist consumerism or cultural self-criticism/advice. Their messages have become cliché (if I am interpreting Chet accurately) both by repetition and by operating through underdeveloped generic political broadstrokes. And I’ll add that rarely do they pound their thought-nails into a politically sound structure with the visceral hammer of serious groove. Fugazi, on the rock side, in a large part derived their political effectiveness from a great deal of urgency in execution, but they never introduced a real dance-beat into the equation. One might have even expected that dance-punk might bring along more of the punk (you know, the social awareness and political incisiveness that was the bread and butter of the Clash) to make the dance more intellectually effective, but the genre’s biggest progenitors were and are far more interested in packing in some cowbell than any sort of political bombs.

Which is all very curious, because given the deeply embedded controversy – even Orwellian nature – of the current American political climate, a dearth of four-on-the-floor political punches should be unthinkable (at least in terms of expectation). Yet the politically febrile environment seems to have encouraged musical escapism rather than confrontation.

Heros Severum appears dead-intent on bucking the norm, and on doing it with as much rhythmic urgency as it can summon. The group almost atavistically works with a notion that its grooves might make a significant political imprint on the minds of its listeners. Its members enhance the singularity of their project by sounding like some anachronistic assemblage of funk prophets, righteous rockers, and big-band fist-raisers.

Interweaving complex rhythmical patterns with heavy chording, sax work, some interesting contraposed vocal movements, and yes, hand claps, they certainly do assure their uniqueness. Politically, they get to the point quickly on opener “Let’s Go Swimming,” and don’t make a difficult guessing game of “spot-the-target”: “He’s got credentials / Not credibility / Not a populist / He’s popular / More than popular / He’s pure lowest common denominator.” A ba-zing is headed W’s way as we speak.

But, political courage and conviction aside, the band offers little more than its titular alternative to Bush’s political bridge-burning. Lyrically, the track operates less than a useful political drive than a bunch of angry liberals hurling insults at the White House. Which they’re free to do, but at the peril of being easily dismissed.

More problematic is the group’s failure to adequately match a good deal of their ambitious rhythms with equally ambitious melodic complements. Often, as on “And Introducing…” the group take a ball-busting syncopated rhythm and pair it with a repetitive guitar movement, when some measure of six-string development would have not only been more impressive, but relatively simple. The dullness of the guitar-work is made-up for by the track’s great vocal movements, but the track still gets its heels stuck when it could be barreling into greatness. “Let’s Go Swimming”’s rhythm practically demands a great complementing bass lead, but Heros provide only a static one that navigates between three-to-four notes without the slightest bit of elasticity. Again, the group makes up for the lack with some good rhythm guitar, but the package could have been nearly perfect.

Despite its simplistic political mantras, and occasional compositional underdevelopment, one ought to reserve a fair share of applause not only for the group’s very attempt at making a social impact, but for the substantial interest its style and songwriting more than occasionally generates. Yeah, they’re all shouting, “Can’t keep a brother down!” on “A Sick Dog,” but the inanity is not only charged with non-ironic energy, it’s backgrounded by some pretty righteous sax-and-guitar interaction. “A Sick Dog” also benefits from a superb, sinuous bridge with multiple sax parts playing off of one another in a dance around its writhing guitar. The strange rhythmic intervals opening “3KHZ” not only pique initial interest, but introduce you into a freak-pop set of bars that might have been taken from the pages of the Dismemberment Plan’s b-sides (which still ain’t bad at - Coke Machine Glow


"Slightly chaotic - just that ingenious."

I’ve reviewed their covers that they released on a 7” a couple of years ago but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing this rock band has become. After having recorded their first album with the legendary J. Robbins in ’02, the band set about to make their unique mark on rock. To date Heros Severum have two full-lengths and two 7” vinyl albums under their helm. This is their second full-length album and showcases their ability to write compelling indie rock with pop hooks despite the lack of a bassist. But don’t let that make you think that this is stripped down; indeed there’s plenty of other instruments on the album. But at the end of the day, the most important part of the album is its structure, which on the outside might seem slightly chaotic but I dare say it’s far from that—it’s just that ingenious. Perfect! - Smother Magazine


Discography

Grounded Like a Prop b/w From Foot to Foot
7" single 2001 Two Sheds Records.

Wonderful Educated Bear
Full Length CD 2002 Two Sheds Records.

Rock 'n' Roll Nigga Get Ur Freak On
7" Single 2003 Two Sheds Records.

Until the Shaking Stops - A Salute to Jawbox
Compilation CD 2005 Two Sheds Records.

Plague Dogs
Full length CD 2006 Two Sheds Records.

Photos

Bio

Some of the high points of our band have included: Getting asked to open for Mission of Burma in Atlanta. Having early DangerMouse mixes on our first record long before he ever got big. Being a part of Two Sheds Records. Getting reviews (good and bad) in national print media. Touring with Roy. Winston's hott saxxx. The exploding chair. Recording with J. Robbins. Having a song on the Jawbox tribute album. Recording our second album ourselves. Never having a bass player and never playing at the 40 Watt Club. Charting on CMJ. Playing in Manhattan. Robert Newsome's vinyl interpretations. Releasing 7" records even though nobody buys them anymore. Playing as many all-ages shows as we could. Sneaking whiskey into all-ages shows. And finally, all the cool people we get to meet.