If you’ve spent any time on the Arizona local music scene, the name Mergence should be very familiar to you. This band has been playing to a steadily increasing fan base at venues all over the Valley. As these guys begin to dip their toes in California territory, playing a few shows here and there across the border, they released a live album from one of their finely crafted sets at the Crescent Ballroom.
Their debut album, Those Vibrant Young People Are Dead, gave us the songs that we all know and love to sing along to, and their release of Harvest Wintertime gave us a taste of what might be on the horizon. While most of us foam at the mouth for their next full-length album, this new, live CD will hold us over with all of our favorite songs and a few extras that might sound familiar if you’ve been to any of their recent shows.
Starting things off with “If You Know, Then You Know,” we have a second to settle into what will certainly be an hour of solid indie, rock and blues. The calm intro mixed with the vocals of Adam Bruce, quickly breaks into an explosion of rock that gives us what we want. It only gets better from there when we approach the end of the song. A mind-warping solo from lead guitarist, Yod, builds into a psychedelic climax of drums, guitar, bass and vocals. Enthusiastic cheers can be heard from the crowd during the quick, second-long pause, just before the Adam vs. the crowd shouting match: “There’s a ghost in your head, that you’ll never see…” It’s clear now that this is a live album, and the energy is there to prove it.
Quickly following a solid opening song, the set moves right into “The Road.” The fantastically bluesy vocals set the tone for the next few minutes, and the band flows effortlessly together, merging into one cohesive motion of music. Small, on-the-fly tweaks of guitar volume add a little flare to the intro, and extra-quick guitar solo fillers give the song an extra little punch — stepping it up a bit from the studio-album version of the song.
The seamless mix from “Girl. Fear. God.” to “Eulogy 29″ has always been one of my favorite parts of any Mergence show, and I was glad to hear those two songs side-by-side on this live album. After a healthy dose of rock, a song that rests on the calm side of Mergence, but still has the power to put anyone into a groove, hits the right spot.
Determined not to give anyone too much of a break, Mergence starts the party again with the crowd favorite “Dynamite & Kerosene,” quickly followed by their new releases “Wintertime” and “Harvest.”
Track nine gives us our first treat, a cover of “In The Pines.” A song which so many great artists have covered, often not doing the song justice. Mergence takes this great classic and completely makes it their own. A build of energy that this band has definitely mastered works perfectly. The soft guitar and vocals with a few harmonies are accented by just a few echoing, bent guitar notes to keep us on our toes. Next, a light kick drum and snare, from drummer Jason Roedl, keep time, and the sound is filled in with the bass guitar of Brandon Shupe. Before I knew what hit me, the entire band blows up into a fantastic blues and rock combination, bringing the song to a perfect ending.
Following such a great cover might be hard for any other band, but as you can hear in the recording, “My Prayer” is just what the crowd ordered. Shouting along to the opening guitar riff, the crowd that night was ready, and this song does not disappoint. A supercharged version of the song gets my blood pumping, and I would be shouting along too if I didn’t have neighbors to worry about.
The last two songs on the album treat us with “Me & My Family Vs. The Robots,” which has been welcomed to very positive reviews by all sorts of local magazines and websites, and a cover of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by The Beatles. This song is right up Mergence’s alley. A healthy mix of rock and some bluesy vocals fit right into their playing style.
Ending on such a great song gives me a similar feeling to leaving a great Mergence show. I’m a little bummed that it’s over, but man, what a show.
Previous Mergence Albums:
- Those Vibrant Young People Are Dead (2011)