The Sons of Hercules don’t specify the kind of ugly they’re talking about in their latest album title, but if I had to guess, I’d say the intentional kind. Marked “A product of Taco Land, Texas” on its cover, Ugly sounds more like the product of fanatic Stooges and New York Dolls devotees old enough to have bought the original LPs back when the Amazon was a river. The opening title track is purposefully unpretty, with vocalist Frank Pugliese flinging nasty, curled-lip put downs at an unnamed “girl” over drummer Kory Cook’s meticulously primitive pounding and Dale Hollon and Dave Pedersen’s two-guitar bar fight. And that’s pretty much where the album stays for its 36 minutes, showing a few signs of mutation but stubbornly refusing to evolve. The psychedelic guitar solo makes “Brain Dead” a standout, and the faithful remakes of the Saints’ “Misunderstood” and the Lazy Cowgirls’ “Rock of Gibraltar” could probably be passed off as SoH originals. There’s nothing new here, but that’s probably the point. In 2009, this album sounds like a direct challenge to today’s overproduced popular rock, polished to transparency, but Sons of Hercules are veterans, not revivalists. Rock-’n’-roll grandpas, take a lesson from the Sons: If you title a song “Startin’ to Slip” when your vocalist is old enough to have opened for the Sex Pistols (as Pugliese did with the Vamps in 1978) you better make sure it’s the meanest, ugliest track on the whole damn album.
— Jeremy Martin