Much better known in Europe than in the US (thanks in large part to John Peel), France’s Herman Dune have been around for over a decade, busy pioneering the “anti-folk” movement that has had a mutually influential relationship with countless bands, from Belle & Sebastian to The Mountain Goats to even Jens Lekman. This album is quite jolly; title track “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” is a toe-tapping opener reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian’s “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” and the song “Shadow of a Doubt” is impossible to listen to without bouncing around a little, especially during those surf rock guitar riffs.
Generally sunny, Herman Dune is equally primed for the stereo systems of our parents and the ones of the generation below us. Their songs are both generally light-hearted and self-reflective, with rather easy-to-decipher lyrics. In “I Was Drunk but Not with Wine,” the title of the track is repeated constantly to allude to happiness replacing alcohol; “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” narrates about the routine of relationships, the theme driven home by a very repetitive chorus. “Wait for the Dead to Live Again” is the sad and shameful song of the album, with the chorus: “I’m hiding my face from you, I have nowhere to run to, I want to talk, but I mumble, I want to walk, but I stumble.”
Herman Dune fit very nicely into the vein of more modern singer-songwriters like Damien Jurado and John Vanderslice, but also have notes of more offbeat quirky folk like Megafaun and modern alternative bands like Wilco. This combination blends nicely but can be a little too dry for those who are not already fans. But hey, let’s face it: everyone needs a little alt-folky sunshine in their lives.
Listen to “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” – DOWNLOAD MP3