Hey Mercedes Everynight Fire Works

[Vagrant Records; 2001]

Styles: emo, punk pop
Others: Saves the Day, Braid

I recently saw Hey Mercedes play on the Vagrant America Tour, alongside labelmates Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, and No Motiv. The crowd was filled with mostly teenagers, some actually sporting the cliché backpacks and all that "Emo" stuff. Most were there to see Saves the Day and Dashboard Confessional.

Hey Mercedes played first, and the crowd just stood and stared throughout the half hour set. Later when the other Vagrant bands played, the crowd danced and partied like there was no tomorrow. Hey Mercedes' lead singer Bob Nanna mentioned to me something about the crowd not doing that to his bands music. It struck me then that somehow Hey Mercedes stands-out like a sore thumb, not only on their label, but in the genre they are usually lumped into. Although, they are similar to some of the bands, it's almost as if they don't really belong there.

Standing in the crowd, I couldn't help but see that Hey Mercedes' music went over the heads of some of the crowd with their rocking yet sophisticated music, complicated sections, and full of emotion. It's not that they aren't good rockers, it's just that their music has something about it that makes you just want to watch.

Hey Mercedes' first full-length Everynight Fire Works captures all of that perfectly. Produced by J Robbins, the album captures both Hey Mercedes' live energy and their studio perfectionism. The album opens with the rocking "Frowning of a Lifetime," which showcases the guitar interplay between Bob Nanna and Mark Dawursk. The time between tracks on the album is almost nonexistent, and obviously a lot of thought was put into the sequencing of the songs, providing a very natural, flowing quality. Effortlessly streaming from desperate vocal-stretchers like "A-List Actress" into the more straight ahead rocking "The Slightest Idea." Bob Nanna's vocal wordplay and intricate cinematic stories make the music that much more enjoyable.

The album continues through songs like the extremely laid-back "Que Shiraz," which features brilliant drumming and bass guitar playing, and the playful fun "Our Weekend Starts on Wednesday," the most straight ahead punk rocker on the album. The last songs on the album are edgier, emotional territory, with the swirling, striking "Haven't Been This Happy"; the hectic vocal pace of "What You're Up Against," which effectively conveys the lyrical theme of working and frustration; and the rocking album closer and usually live set closer, "Let's Go Blue." The most surprising moment on the album is the slow and almost sexy "Quit," which feature some angry lyrics and a beautiful swirling guitar being played through a Leslie cabinet in the background.

Hey Mercedes sometimes fits in the genre they are clumsily lumped into, but other times, don't; they come across as the big intelligent independent brother to bands like Saves the Day -- cool, mysterious, and highbrow, not only bringing something unique and very refreshing to the Vagrant label, but to the genre also.

1. The Frowning of a Lifetime
2. Every Turn
3. A-List Actress
4. The Slightest Idea
5. Eleven to Your Seven
6. Que Shiraz
7. Our Weekend Starts on Wednesday
8. Haven't Been This Happy
9. What You're Up Against
10. Quit
11. Let's Go Blue

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