Hey Mercedes – The Weekend EP

Hey Mercedes
The Weekend EP

As you should probably know by now, Hey Mercedes is essentially the beloved Braid, but minus co-singer/guitarist Chris Roach. Roach’s portion of the guitar work was replaced by the contributions of Mark Dawursk, who was just recently replaced by Michael Shumaker, and the occasional vocals Roach once added are taken over by frontman Robert Nanna, who now handles all the singing and is joined by long-time Braid buddies Todd Bell and Damon Atkinson.
The Weekend EP follows closely in the path of the band’s lone full-length, Everynight Fire Works, which makes sense, seeing how the songs for both releases came from the same recording sessions. After a debut self-titled EP on Polyvinyl, Hey Mercedes switched to Vagrant for Everynight Fire Works, taking a noticeably more crisp and clean approach to things. The songs are deeply rooted in the “emo” genre, if there even is such a thing, but Hey Mercedes remains a band that could easily be tolerated by those who cringe at the mentioning of the e-word. After all these years together, the guys are amazingly tight musicians. The drums are excellent, the sort of thing you could easily find yourself pounding along to on the steering wheel of your car, while the bass provides the perfect amount of support, refusing to be pushed into the background but knowing enough not to overpower anything else. The guitar work is immense, from the big, crunchy chords to the gritty solos, and Nanna’s vocals sound like nobody else’s, yet they are quite warm and friendly, even when he gets down and dirty with the occasional growl.
The Weekend EP begins with “Our Weekend Starts on Wednesday,” a cut taken straight from Everynight Fire Works. It is a rocking, upbeat song that would serve as the perfect soundtrack to getting out of work on the last day of the week and getting ready for whatever it is you have planned for the evening. The shiny hooks and tasteful shouts of “Hooray!” make it ideal for a party mix tape, and listening to it on a Monday morning in the office will make you want to jump up on your desk, quit your job, and run from the building while singing along. “Save A Life,” previously only seen as a bonus track on the Japanese version of Everynight Fire Works, is a slightly more downbeat number, but still a nice companion to tapping your toes and bobbing your head, and is a perfect follow-up to its predecessor. “Everybody’s Working For the Weak” is the edgiest song offered here and possibly the overall highlight. It was previously available on the most recent Vagrant sampler, Another Year on the Streets, Volume Two, as well as the aforementioned Japanese import. Finally, “Wearing a Wire,” which has never seen the light of day until this release, is the perkiest and poppiest track here, bringing the whole thing to a pretty little end. But just when you think it’s all over, you scan through about five minutes of dead air and come to an electronic-tinged and damned entertaining version of that classic 80s hit, “The Promise,” by When in Rome.
They’re fun, they’re full of energy, and they rock pretty hard, which is more than you can ask from most bands. Whether you’re an old Braid fan or one of those kids willing to buy anything Vagrant dishes out, you’re probably going to enjoy this one as much as I do.