The time for dull and superficial articles about the ‘Bergensound’ seems to have passed, but suffice to say that Ralph Myerz and The Jack Herren Band come from the same locale as Kings Of Convenience, Röyksopp, Magnet and numerous others. Much of their debut, A Special Album, was produced by Jørgen Træen, who owns Duper Studios in Bergen and produced both of Jaga Jazzist’s albums.
While A Special Album (following A Special EP, naturally), did not benefit from comparisons to Röyksopp’s Melody AM, it was still very solid feel-good downtempo, if a bit glossy and formulaic. It certainly matched anything by Blues States or Kinobe, and tracks like “Nikita”, “Think Twice” and “A Special Morning” were well worth the asking price (which doesn’t seem to be very high at the moment: you can’t go into a second-hand CD store in Toronto without finding a copy). It also had some of the best kitsch cover art for some time.
Your New Best Friends seems only to have had a Norwegian release thus far. The formula has become even glossier. There are moments — the chorus of “Surprise” — that remind you of what was good about A Special Album. But only a few tracks (like the churning “Dubspace”) break out of the nightclub-friendly combination of disco guitar, pop-toned bass, chirpy synth riffs and closely-harmonized backing vocals. It sounds a Jamiroquai album, in other words.
If you like albums that come with a big ‘chillout album of the month’ sticker on the front, this is for you.
If I can say that without making my disdain too obvious.
They have managed to keep up the deliberately naff cover art, though. Consistency is valuable.
Ralph Myerz And The Jack Herren Band, A Special Album
(Emperor Norton, 2003)
Ralph Myerz And The Jack Herren Band, Your New Best Friends
(Emperor Norton, 2004)