Mercy Brown is a new name to our site, but only because I’m late to the party — about three months late, in fact: The band’s self-titled debut album was released in mid-March of this year. It took the video we’re premiering today to turn me on to some music I’m damned glad I finally discovered. And sometimes that’s the best reason for post-release videos — to expose laggards like me to something they might otherwise miss completely. Another reason happens to be validated by this video, too: It’s as much fun to watch as it is to hear.
For those like me who are discovering the band for the first time, don’t be fooled by their name. It might make you think you’re in for some retro soul or funk music, but you’ll make a better guess if you happen to know about the bizarre “Mercy Brown vampire incident“, in which a young woman’s supposedly undead corpse was exhumed in Exeter, Rhode Island, in 1892 in order to remove her heart and burn it.
As far as I know, the four people in Mercy Brown are not vampires, and their fellow citizens in Spokane, Washington, haven’t yet come for them in the dead of night with pitchforks and torches. Let’s hope it stays that way.
photo by Chad Ramsey
There are other things about Mercy Band besides their name that could prove misleading. Take, for example, the song that’s the subject of this video — “News Complaint”.
The start-stop riffs, the heavy grooves, and Sera Hatchett’s clean vocal wails at the start of the song may lead you to certain quick conclusions about the style of the music, but it turns out that Mercy Brown don’t have much interest in being slotted into any neat categories. It’s not long before Sera Hatchett’s vocals turn into shrieks capable of stripping paint from the walls (and eventually into deathly roars), the drummer starts blasting like a Gatling gun, and the riffs turn increasingly savage. One thing that doesn’t change is the really heavy, bass-driven groove, which is part (but only part) of what makes the song catchy as well as dark and adrenalizing.
The album — which includes even more wildly eclectic juxtapositions of sound and style — was engineered and mixed by Chris Tanaka Canwell and mastered by the masterful Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and the cool cover art was created by Scott Shellhamer. If you like what you hear, check out the full album stream that I’m installing right after the video. You can grab it via the group’s Bandcamp page, linked below: