Herstand: Hersucks

Ari Herstand Album: âÄúWhispering EndearmentsâÄù Label: Proud Honeybee Records Ari Herstand is many things. HeâÄôs a key player in the proliferation of gig posters on the University campus, a hard-touring musician and âÄî at least according to his suspiciously self-serving Wikipedia page âÄî a talented and up-and-coming singer-songwriter. What he is not, though, is an apt christener of titles, which is why the world now has the disgustingly titled âÄúWhispering Endearments.âÄù With that âÄúUGHHâÄù-bomb of a title, it can be reasonably assumed that picking embarrassing Herstand lyrics is like shooting fish in a barrel. Actually, itâÄôs a lot more like shooting a shark in a bathtub. A really fat shark, too. Observe: âÄúIf you knew/this was our last kiss/how would your lips move?âÄù âÄúBut every time I make you laugh/you tickle my heart and IâÄôm right back in love.âÄù âÄúItâÄôs too late to cry/away you fly.âÄù Yikes. If it couldnâÄôt be gathered from the above morsels, what truly sets âÄúWhispering EndearmentsâÄù apart is the overall creepiness factor. Throughout the record HerstandâÄôs unsettlingly emotive voice whispers, shouts and growls lyrics that would make even the most tear-drenched emo band cringe. Perhaps girl fans lap this type of super-charged sentiment up, but the man who the DailyâÄôs A&E department once referred to as âÄúthe guy youâÄôd most want to avoid at a partyâÄù might be better labeled âÄúthe guy who makes Dashboard Confessional seem like Tom Waits.âÄù Regardless of how uncomfortable HerstandâÄôs words may be, he is an accomplished musician. ThereâÄôs no disputing the quality of the arrangements, musicianship and recording quality that went into this record, but the pretty vehicle has the misfortune of being driven by an individual who, without going blind with shame, sings âÄúHold the light a little bit higher/I canâÄôt read your eyes.âÄù The examples of this general suckiness are limitless. On âÄúItch Inside Your EarâÄù the listener is given a lengthy narrative on, of all things, a leaf. Oh, and thereâÄôs also a brief conversation with an angel. âÄúCenter of a KissâÄù is a jazzy Jason Mraz rip-off with porno guitars that drive home the discâÄôs central theme (creepiness) that much more. Top that off with some seriously cheesy horns and you have an eerie romance song that hopefully only the person who served as inspiration for the track has been subjected to in real life. The piano ballad âÄúYour EyesâÄù is, in fact, centered around the horrendously clichéd phrase âÄúIâÄôm lost in your eyes.âÄù ThereâÄôs also some growling that should quickly snap anyone who happens to be lost in anotherâÄôs optic receptors into a state of concerned alertness. âÄúBlanket-go-roundâÄù is titled âÄúBlanket-go-round.âÄù Yeah. ItâÄôs also a plucky acoustic number with soaring vocals about blankets, a chorus that repeats the title and a refrain that does the same. This man does himself zero favors. In the slow-tempo moper âÄúChristian Dear,âÄù Herstand delivers the gem, âÄúI canâÄôt believe how quickly I fell/ just the other day I rang the bachelor bell,âÄù which begs two questions. A. What the hell is a bachelor bell? B. Why canâÄôt Herstand forgo being obscenely creepy for two tracks in a row? The album culminates with the nearly nine-minute âÄúepicâÄù thatâÄôs an elongated snoozer in which, in a final flurry of creepiness, Herstand urges the woman depicted in the song to âÄúSleep/ weâÄôre all alone.âÄù No one should expect a man influenced by the likes of Dave Matthews and Coldplay to pen a halfway-decent record, but âÄúWhispering EndearmentsâÄù is the rare sort of album that not only channels the vibes of sub-standard influences into sub-standard originals, but also manages to make stomachs churn like rock tumblers with over-the-top schmaltz. It goes without saying that thereâÄôs a market for everything (pet psychologists come to mind), and there will inevitably be folks who spend money on HerstandâÄôs music. But, that doesnâÄôt make it right. People with self respect, do yourselves a favor and ring the living hell out of the âÄúDonâÄôt Buy This CrapâÄù bell.