Dare I Say...

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Three years on from their 2002 debut album, Only a Suggestion, the stoner rock veteran collective known as Hermano reconvened their geographically distant membership (minus second guitarist Mike Callahan and with new drummer Chris Leathers) for a sophomore turn called Dare I Say.... And, even though it sounds about as loose, spontaneous, and diversified as its predecessor, this second statement actually feels like it's coming from an actual band with a mission -- not just a few friends goofing off in their spare time. Truly inspired songwriting is the unsurprising secret and, although hyperactive stoner rock anthems ("Cowboys Suck," "Angry American") and groovy metallic blues numbers ("Life," "Roll Over," "My Boy") are still the order of the day, Hermano also take the occasional stroll through acoustic blues ("Murder One"), rip-roaring distorted punk rock ("Quite Fucked"), and even an artsy, organ-driven something or other called "On the Desert." Of course, none of the above would carry nearly as much appeal without the star power of legendary desert metal vocalist John Garcia (formerly of Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida), whose voice retains that magical, difficult to define spark not even his state of semi-retirement can dull. Seriously, with all due respect to bassist Dandy Brown's all-important composing contributions and guitarist David Angstrom's well-balanced chops and scalding hot leads, it's Garcia's spine-tingling wail that often makes the difference here -- and his bandmates would probably be the first ones to admit it. Finally, and of perhaps greatest curiosity given Garcia's recurring verbal jabs at former sparring partner-in-Kyuss, Josh Homme (arguably railed about in the vicious, gauntlet-throwing "Let's Get It On"), Hermano actually conjure up a couple of slow-burning rockers ("Brother Bjork," "Is This O.K.?") cut right out of the Queens of the Stone Age mold. Regardless of their intention, the important thing is that these tracks help round out a very enjoyable and consistent set of modern stoner rock -- something one does not often hear in the mid-2000s.

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