You have to respect a band who puts out one of the greatest debut albums this area has seen in quite a while, who has played endless live shows enough to develop a very large and devout following, who have become one of the most respected bands in the valley and who has somehow also remained sweet, humble and gracious throughout this banner breakout year. You also have to respect the fact that they found time amidst this madness to put out a double A-Sided single before the years end of two completely new songs. That’s Mergence for you. I realized today as I was listening to the new song over and over again that I write a lot about Mergence. I became a bit self-critical on this point for a moment, but then I discarded it, because I love Mergence, I love their sound, I love their live shows, I love their fans and I love the band themselves. What’s not to love, these guys are truly pure rock’n'roll in the classic sense. I remember them telling me someone once described them as “indie blues” to which there response was simply, “Isn’t that Rock’n'Roll?” That’s the truth, you can call it indie blues or alternative heavy R&B, or any other moniker you choose, but when it comes down to it, Mergence plays brilliant rock, pure and true. They are defined by their environment, they live in a land where you can choose sweltering heat and snow capped peaks in a few hours drive, they live on the scrubland edge of an endless desert, they find their minds drawn to the mountains and woods, but live amongst the busied dwellers of this swelled oasis, they are a part of this land and it is much apart of them. If you want to define it, I would call it “Desert Rock”, but it’s still Rock. In this amazing year of music for the metro Phoenix area, Mergence has emerged as something of the flagship band for our thriving indie rock community and their wake is something wonderful to surf in. Is it perhaps a bit of favoritism, goddamned right it is, they are one of my favorites and as long as they continue to release music that inspires me to write, I’ll write about their music and when they don’t, I won’t but I’m pretty sure that’s a time way the hell down The Road.
“Harvest” is the “A” side of the single, meaning it is track one of this brilliant digital duo. It is a tight, concise, blues drenched number that clocks in at just over two minutes (!), but like other songs in their catalogue, Mergence has the ability to bend time. The first time I heard it was on The Morning Infidelity show on KWSS 106.7 FM and it blew my mind, I was sure it was at least four minutes long, because I got lost in time as often happens with their songs. When they sent me the track I couldn’t believe how brief it was, but how expansive it was, how it said all it needed to say in such a limited time both in sound and lyric–kind of like how Rock’n'Roll used to be. “To get on the radio you must sell your soul, to get on that platform it’s all who you know, to get all those fine times you must cut in line, this soul is an old soul, the fruit stays on the vine,” brilliant lyrics with a brilliant point that shoves its barbs into the music industry’s side. They look with a wary eye toward success and the promises often offered and professed by big label deals, “Get yourself a nice car and keep your smiles fake…move to the left side over to the right, when you get to the top you know your going to find yourself alone, find yourself alone.” In the end though, “I can’t tell you what I want, cause what I want is free” is the rightful conclusion in thought. The song even has time for a guitar solo, how does Mergence cram that much into 123 seconds? I’ve listened to it nearly 50 times by now and I still have no idea.
“Wintertime” is my favorite track of the two, which is apparently against popular consensus so far, but that’s because it’s wrapped up in recent memories. They debuted the song at the Icehouse in Phoenix during the monumental What Laura Says “Talk” EP release show and every show of theirs I’ve seen since then, has added to it’s glory, every time it’s better and better. In fact I was so lost in the sound one night at the Lost Leaf with the KONGOS, I had to ask them afterward what was the last song they played, though I suspected it, it was “Wintertime” and it had grown to a whole new level in just a few months that it continually sends shivers of bliss through my soul. I”m also a sucker for their piano numbers, I’ll admit it, I like the third instrument that’s created in my mind when the piano meets guitar in their songs, it’s a weird friction that always amazes me, live or on record. “My love’s insane, I wear it upon my sleeve, pleasure follows pain at least that’s what I think,” the lyrics are clever and more personal and perhaps that why I relate to it more. It’s also the entire arrangement of the song that makes me smile, especially the break where Adam Bruce laugh with slightly hysterical madness, through in through it comes out as perhaps, less rock, but a more accomplished song that shows their endless talents off thoroughly. “I’m warm in the wintertime and there’s no end in sight,” only a band from Arizona could really say that and connect themselves once more with the hard land upon which they dwell. “I would just as soon sedate myself, yes, that’s what I said,” is delivered almost theatrically, yet without irony in any capacity. This lyrical and ascending finale brings the song and the single to an awesome close.
It still amazes me that together, the two songs don’t even reach the five minute mark and yet leave an indelible impression on you mind, your heart and soul. If you love Mergence, you’ll love these songs and if you are unfamiliar with them, this is a pretty good starter set. I feel that this is only the beginning of more great things to come and I’m a bit curious if the next two songs will complete a seasonal song cycle or if we’re looking down the barrel of a concept album about the transitions of the year, which in Arizona are often too subtle to notice, or so harsh it hurts. We live in a land of edges and sharp contrast, where plants wear spines and everything stings, Mergence seems to thrive on this contrast and this single shows it better than anything else I’ve heard. It’s Desert Rock through and through, brilliant Desert Rock that makes you want to sit on a cliffs edge and howl your love for it at the moon.
You don’t have to take my word for it, just listen to the two tracks below and decide for yourself, then let me know what you think about them.