There are some words and comparisons which almost force you to write themselves down. Certain bands and musical styles all bow towards a central source, like so many sunflowers swaying in a warm, noon sun. Such is the case with Boss Keloid. Try and find a review about this band that doesn’t reference a certain well known band that’s been in operating for more than twenty years now, its name derived from the fortunate juxtaposition between an auto-mechanical part and a collection of hens. However, this simple and straightforward comparison often robs the band of their hard work and the truly unique sound that they’ve managed to produce with this, their second release. Sure, the bass is thick and flirts with the vague filigrees of rock n’ roll, whatever these are these days. But along the vocal lines and intricate guitar parts lives a completely different beast, one more fueled by bands like HARK, Sleep, and Witchcraft then those legendary, bearded gentlemen of big news fame.
Just listen to the opening track for your proof of concept. “Lung Mountain” is a brilliant choice to jump-start this electrifying release. Ushered in by a sneaky little bass riff that will present itself both at the end of the track but also throughout the album, the track soon becomes driven by the lead vocals. Their style is different than what we might expect; instead of being drenched in the rasp of bourbon, they’re more like rosewood deeply made supple with balm. They’re more similar to the excellent vocals found on Witchcraft albums, albeit an octave or two lower. The backing vocals also add a lot of variety to their mix, both parts pushing themselves into higher and more drawn out passages near the middle/end of the track. This remains one of the finer moments of the album, with the lead vocals soaring high and the backing ones just a little bit higher, lending the whole thing a high strung feel which is also very well grounded.
Which is not to say that that grainy quality can’t be found on this album, in the vocals or elsewhere. Check out “Cone” for all your heavy stoner daily fixes. Here, the guitars go a bit slower, with the bass regulated to its usually supporting position. The vocals follow suit, dragging deeper depths for its influence and timbre. The guitars on this album deserve their own inspection and there isn’t a better place than “Cone” to do it. While they’re of course slow and feedback drenched, they also have this penchant for breaking up the monotonous repetition inherent in the genre with lead flicks of chords, subtly creeping up and down scales whenever they get the chance.
The guitars work beautifully with the bass; their sounds never quite counterpoints them but it often goes off on its own tangents to the main progression, adding a supporting layer that extends the range of sound rather than simply amplify it. Often, the bass is used like its own guitar, creating leads that are later picked up on via the other instruments. This leads us to what might be the most convincing thing about Herb Your Enthusiasm (yes, the album name and track titles are amazing, let’s move on): Boss Keloid sound like a well oiled, well medicated unit, marching on in a clear, distinct and immediately accessible direction. Puffing heavy on the space grass and releasing their own vaguely blue cloud of smoke, they exhale and inhale together. Bound by what appears to be a common vision for what the album should be, Boss Keloid manage to make more of the individual elements of the album. Thus, their power lies not in innovation specifically but in the deep satisfaction that we derive from hearing something well made, smoking something well rolled, or eating something well cooked. This album is all that and more.
And yes, I was talking about Clutch.