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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Review: Herm - Monsters

Herm – Monsters
2009, Catchy Go Go Records

Irish singer/songwriter Herm (aka Kevin Connolly) is as enigmatic as they come. Busting genres as easily as Frankenstein breaking through walls, Herm defies categorization with wonderfully melodic and unusual songwriting. Because of his originality and talent, Herm also tends to attract high quality musicians who thrive on and contribute to the creative milieu, creating an artistic snowball effect that is only to the listeners benefit. The net effect is immediately apparent on Herm’s full length debut CD, Monsters, release in 2009 on Catchy Go Go Records. Herm began writing songs at the age of eight (a tune about alcohol addiction) and has never looked back.

Monsters opens with the dark, Americana of The Way, sounding like the Skydiggers/Cash Brothers in minor keys. Kevin Connolly has one of those voices that isn't pretty, per se, but is very enjoyable to listen to due to all of the character and nuance it expresses. The rhythmic, urgent and slightly creepy nature of the opening track is a great start, putting the listener on notice that the expected can't be found here. Year Of The Horse finds Herm in an exquisite duet with Nina Haynes. There's almost a baroque feel to the sound as violin and cello accent acoustic guitar, piano and percussion. Monsters is an amusing, well-crafted song about prejudice and fear. The song title was adopted for the album title because the songs presented here all took on a life of their own and became at times unrecognizable from their original forms.

Rosemary is something of an alternative love song focusing on obsession and unhealthy relationships. The song has a swaying, good time quality that belies the uncomfortable subject matter. The Long Way Down has a demented, slightly creepy sound to it and is one of the more compelling listens on Monsters. Be sure to check out Cellar Door, which continues the creep factor in Hitchcockian fashion. My favorite song on the disc is The Best Bit, a wonderful diatribe on relationships built on a lyrically dense and urgent vocal line that sounds like a cross between The Beastie Boys and Beck. The guitar and bass here are full of funk, making for a highly danceable, highly entertaining track.

Herm is an artist who is hard to pigeonhole. There is no specific marketing niche that he fits into, yet I suspect that with the right exposure he'll develop broad appeal. The music is sufficiently dark to appeal to fans of Goth styles, with enough wit to draw a lighter crowd, and just off the wall enough to shock listeners out of their pre-conceived notions about what rock music should be. Monsters is an outstanding debut.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Herm at or You can purchase a copy of Monsters at