Hey Mercedes: self-titled


By Erik Gamlem

I’ve been aching over this review for days now. How do you go about talking about a band that has members from another band in it, with out talking about the old band. After all it’s a given that when a band comes from the ashes of another, in most cases that band is going to have similar elements. In the case of Hey Mercedes it’s pretty obvious just what the score is. It is also obvious what the missing one forth brought to the equation of said ex band and why that part was so important.

It isn’t that Hey Mercedes fails where another band that some members were in succeeded. It’s more like they have no edge where the former had tremendous edge and were much more daring to come crashing down from it. Hey Mercedes is polished, perfect and polite which doesn’t really surprise me because if you look at photos of guitarist/vocalist Robert Nanna along side Damon Atkinson (drums) and Todd Bell (bass) from the past and present, they seem like really nice guys. While they can rock, and do so with the best of them, they don’t look like they are going to scare you. Add another nice face (former Compound Red guitarist Mark Dawursk) to the mix and you get your all around wholesome, talented rock band from the Midwest. Boring? More like something you can depend on.

On this small EP of four songs a listener can depend on Nanna’s well-crafted, poetic and playful lyrics. The man has always had a great talented for crafting witty and meaningful poetry. Where losers like Beck (pun intended) and Steve Pavement-Boy make idiotic sing song word play nonsense, Nanna creates beautiful scenes and intense emotions with his tremendous grasp on the English language. He would have survived quite well in more noble times of patrons and princesses as an artisan of verse. His lines are rhythmical and rhyming and delivered with innocent passion.

In this redecorated outfit he has also taken a bit more melodic approach, using a singing voice instead of a passionate talking like voice. It’s very subtle and one has to have spent hours of listening to him in the past to understand, but the change of delivery is obvious.

Precision guitar parts, clean drumming and the subdued in your face rock sound of polished distortion are also to be expected when spinning this rock. The time changes are pretty obvious and the structure is pretty straight forward modern rock with perhaps a few interesting clicks of drum sticks or palm mute action to keep one more engaged then otherwise expected from music of this type.

A girlfriend of mine once said of Nanna and co.‘s former rock entourage that all their songs sounded like a bunch of little songs smoshed together. She didn’t like it at all. She said it was annoying. But it was that experimental song structure and the feeling like they were about to self-destruct right at the height of a rock out part that made me love them so. Hey Mercedes has the rock, but it’s much more composed then I had hoped. My ex would probably love this stuff. I find it more like an old friend all grown up, just as good but not quite the same.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/heymercedes-st/