Heroes and Cons have been quietly etching their mark on the South Florida punk scene for the last three years and they might possibly be one of the better local bands you haven't heard about. Lord knows I'm new to their racket and from the opening instrumental of "I'm Sorry Boys, She's Married... To Science!" they firmly establish the fact that they are very adept at their instruments.
On this second full-length effort, The Artist Aesthetic, they follow up their self-produced album Gone as Ghosts with some decidedly more ambitious compositions that run the gamut of sweet pop, post-alternative, and hardcore punk with metal touches.
I might be an army of one in thinking this since these kids seem quite young, but I'm sensing a mid-'90s Scandinavian pop punk influence in the vein of Millencolin and the Satanic Surfers but devoid of the applications that eventually rendered the majority of their respective catalogues with too much of an early Epitaph Records influence. Oh well.
After the long-titled but short opening intro, they break into the abrasive "It Never Gets Better" and the title track. These are solid numbers, and the rhythm section of brothers Sam (bass) and Greg Bush (drums) makes quite the statement of solidarity that the rest of the band can only build upon. And build they do.
A triple guitar attack in the form of Adam Fernandez, Bryan Horne, and Neil Goldman levies a strong counterpoint to the proceedings giving the overall effort a nice thick and fulfilled sound. "Family" borders on metal before the quasi-New Wave alterno "Do Not Resuscitate" closes the front half of the album in a satisfying manner with a one-two punch striding "The Revolving Voice," a solid guitar-driven number where the band really explodes into its most hardcore moment.
While the acoustic number "Hell" is appropriate in the sense that these guys need to show off a little, I found it a little distracting right smack in the middle of the album given the excellent energy and momentum the disc had been building at that point. Regardless of personal opinion, you can at least fully appreciate the vocal work of Fernandez and Horne cleanly. This would probably work better in a vinyl setup, as an A-Side closer.
Heroes and Cons - "Over and Out" (Live at Lynn University)
But they do pick it right up with the rocking and sensitive "My Grandfather's Gun" before taking us to the closing half with "And There Will Be a Great Divide" and "Life and Love." "Over and Out" would've been right at home in college radio in the early '90s which is in retrospect, given the state of college radio nowadays, a compliment. Closer "Black Heart" is the most ambitious track here and clocks in at a little over the five minute mark.
I'd like to see these guys play out with a little more frequency but in the meantime you can pick up physical and/or digital copies of the album here.