Review: Merriment – Sway

merriment

Being the youngest in the family can be a real downer. Rarely getting to take part in games with the older siblings, being perpetually confined to the backseat, having to fight for attention. In the case of the youngest DuPree siblings, Christie and Collin, the age gap resulted in living in the shadow of indie pop act Eisley, featuring sisters Sherri, Stacy and Chauntelle and brother Weston.

No longer must they wait their turn. The Tyler, Texas, brother-sister duo, better known as Merriment, began touring in 2012 before releasing the Through the Rough EP that same year. They have since signed with Equal Vision imprint Rory Records and have released one of the most remarkable debut albums of the year in the form of Sway.

You wouldn’t have been remiss to think of Merriment as a sort of Eisley Jr. in their earlier form. Christie’s vocals share a familiarity with her sisters’ and her dream-like songwriting over the top of the duo’s stripped-down acoustic sound lent itself well to comparisons. With Sway, the band hasn’t been completely reborn from their roots, but they’ve certainly distanced themselves far enough to be considered much more than a carbon copy.

Indeed, Sway leans much more in the direction of indie-folk and even alt-country than it does indie pop or rock. The duo’s songwriting has grown bounds since Through the Rough and their melodies now shine brightly.

While the album’s first two tracks, “Take Heart” and “Tremendous Love” wouldn’t feel too out of place on Eisley’s 2013 release Currents, the real progression begins with “Somehow”. The song holds a distinct country twang that surprisingly fits the band quite well – Christie’s vocals swoop up and down over the strum of her guitar as she prepares the listener for her story with the line, “I would tell you but I don’t think / You wanna hear these words I’m ‘bout to sing”.

Along with the sonic shift, much of the album’s content takes a turn for the personal, with Christie sharing stories that hint at youthful pain, confusion and hope. Even the mysterious lyrics of album standout “Backwards” seem to point at something deeper, especially with the line “Take it from someone who sees both sides of the story”. The track’s infectious chorus is driven forward by appropriately controlled percussion, showing its hand as a folk song while remaining covertly pop.

It’s these sorts of transitions and meshings of genre that keep the listener maddeningly engaged. “Patterns” once again displays the band’s poppier side with a cute, catchy chorus that finds Christie emulating the vocal stylings of elder sister Stacy, while “Right Again” swings the band back in a slower, folkier direction with the sounds of a plucking banjo. Album closer “Unhinged” utilizes a string arrangement to push the song to a crescendo.

In truth, Sway is all about motion, whether it be in terms of the figurative heart or in reference to the band’s shifting musical stylings. If this collection of songs seems at all scattered, chalk it up to experimentation from a young duo with a whole lot of talent at their disposal. One could hope that the band bends in the direction of their country/folk sound in future releases, but to nitpick at the details would be to ignore the promise and downright infectiousness of this fresh debut.

Merriment are no longer the cute little siblings of the Eisley circle. With Sway, they have established themselves as their own separate and unique entity – one that is sure to improve and grow even more in the years to come. For now, Sway is an astounding starting point.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Advertisements

Say Anything’s roaming inspiration

say_anything

Max Bemis has been busy lately. This year alone, he’s written comics, released an album with his wife under the name Perma and reportedly recorded half of the songs for the new Two Tongues CD with Saves the Day front man, Chris Conley.

Most importantly, though, he’s been working with Say Anything, recording the new album for 2014. Say Anything is, to say the least, an erratic band, verbally poetic, biting and viciously honest, which is why their next album titillates me so damn much.

I feel like Bemis has slightly lost his edge. The music from Is A Real Boy… is unfiltered punk, heavy themed and powerful. In Defense of the Genre held tight to those reigns, mixing in a slew of new sounds and genres that not only pushed the boundaries of the band, but the ideas behind the it as well: recovery, self exploration and confirmation. The music itself sounded bare boned, as though not much was done to the sound after the recording; what came out of the instruments is what made it onto the record.

But the self titled album is where it started to lighten up. The guitars didn’t carry such heavy riffs and the lyrics took the form of catchy pop, instead of the dark self introspection of the last albums, and partially carried over to Anarchy, My Dear. “Admit It Again”, a sequel to SA’s iconic song, “Admit It!!!” from their most recent album is a bridge connecting the old and new styles, however it doesn’t have the same bite, almost feeling like he’s holding back from really digging deep at the scene, as the song is meant to.

What’s important here though, is that while most bands would lose their fan base with the slightest change (punk to more pop, the removal of most swears), it tends to make Max Bemis stand out as an artist. While the darker, heavier music is planted as influenced by his time battling bipolar disorder and drug abuse, the poppier side and far less dramatic part of the band’s discography is the healing.

Say Anything’s most recent songs have hints of the heavier aspects of their music, but never commits fully. It’s a true sign to the fact that Bemis himself is in a good place and committed to his art even if the inspiration may not be coming from the same place.

As his first child was recently born, the direction of the new album is something that I can’t stop obsessing over. It’s a curiosity to think of the pop rock with the hidden melancholy and where he’ll be lyrically with a whole world of new inspirations coming from a life that is obviously happier and under control.

It’s rare to be able to see a band transition inspiration from a place of darkness to a positive surrounding, while maintaining to spirit of defiance and defense of taste. But in a sense, that’s the essence of what Say Anything is: the statement of what music is artistically, attacking the basic models of musical inspiration from outside angles for both the sound and lyricism.

With the tilt of the pop punk genre towards positivity and less depressive, teenage heartbreak, I can’t wait to see Max’s take on it from where he is today, not only as a master of the industry, but as a performer who lives to defy expectation and continuously reinvigorate the very scene that he grew from.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Merriment release new song “Backwards”

merriment

Tyler, Texas based indie pop duo Merriment has released a new song titled “Backwards”, which can be heard below:

Merriment is composed of siblings Christie and Collin DuPree, both of whom are directly related to members of indie pop act Eisley. The band is currently signed to Equal Vision Records and “Backwards” will be included on their upcoming album, which is currently untitled.

You can read more about the band and the song at American Songwriter.