Review: Have Mercy + Somos Split
Written By: Mike Moger
Split EPs are something, along with the vinyl craze that’s happening right before our eyes, that have become very commonplace in what may seem like a niche market. The nature of the 45rpm, (usually) 7-inch vinyl record is to showcase singles and their b-sides, along with a few collector’s items and a pretty color, nowadays at least. Now we see splits popping up literally everywhere: from their normal A-side/B-side flavor to a “split” between any number from 2-6 bands (the most I’ve seen), all collaborating together. These high-valued records serve as to push different music from an artist’s usual repertoire, or as to repurpose songs into new versions such as acoustic, live, covers, you name it. As for myself, I am certainly fond of an enticing split; it can completely redefine your definition of how to listen to music. The first record I ever bought was the Touché Amoré / Pianos Become the Teeth split back in 2013 and I immediately fell in love with the packaging and sound quality of the recordings. Now I own at least 30 records. They’ve got me hook, line and sinker.
As for this split, in particular, I was torn. Especially on the Have Mercy front. After the spectacle debut of “The Earth Pushed Back” in 2013, they followed up with a lackluster sophomore effort in “A Place of Our Own” this past October. Even the combination of including both songs from their split with Daisyhead (which is simply one of the best 2-band splits available) on the LP didn’t help me feeling overwhelmingly bummed that they lost some of their sparkle after leaving Topshelf for Hopeless. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the music they’ve put out since then, but it seems a tad generic to me, following what an amazing first impression they made.
Something about “Two Years” just didn’t click with me the first time I heard it, but thankfully the live acoustic rendition is aided with more of a focus on Brian’s amazing vocal range. It’s always been their strongest suit and I consider myself extremely lucky to have heard a full live acoustic set from him, acting as the band when their drummer could not perform. The issue here is that I’m just not a fan of the song in general and the constant repetition in the waning minutes doesn’t help matters. Acoustic Have Mercy = great. “Two Years” live acoustic = okay. It was a welcome surprise to see them tackle a cover, and they chose a great one in “Somebody’s Baby,” originally by Jackson Brown. Their take on it supplied a unique Have Mercy quality about the song, and that is the true mark of a talented artist – not just making your songs sound great, but be able to cover someone else and absolutely killing it. Definitely a calculated risk, but it paid off in a big way.
I remember around this time last year seeing a band name pop up that I wasn’t familiar with, but they had deep connections with The Hotelier and Grandview (who you should check out ASAP), and it was Somos. Call me lazy or whatever, but I was simply too busy to even give them a casual listen on Bandcamp, and boy am I regretting that now. Come about a week ago, I finally gave “Temple of Plenty” a full listen and I was just amazed at how good it was. Sadly, a short time ago they had to drop off of a very important Dads tour due to unforeseen events, which you always hate to see.. I wish Mike the absolute best. I’m still constantly awed by the unique vocals and emo style of Somos and am stoked for any new material that may arise soon.
If I could devote an entire review to “Streets Upon Streets,” I would. It is that great. Singlehandedly taking this split from poor to solid, this brand new Somos track is exactly what I’ve been looking for in an emo song. The guitars alone are so cool and varied!! The guitar nerd inside me got so happy once I heard the opening lick and bridge parts. Ps that harmonic during “streets upon streets, and endless opportunities to me,” like wow, it had me freaking out I needed to listen to it six times before I could continue with the song. Yes, I know it’s a little detail, but those are the moments in music I live for. Coupled that with Mike’s always intriguing voice and one of the catchiest choruses of 2015 so far, and you’ve got a song I’ll be jamming to for months to come. As for their acoustic contribution, it comes in the form of “Domestic” from their debut LP. The track is tonally similar to the full band version, but presented in a refreshing fashion, as I haven’t been exposed to acoustic Somos just yet. As it goes for versions like such, I’ll probably just stick to the original recording.
This special split EP was made for only one reason: out of mutual respect for each other’s music and wanting to share it on a physical release. Props to No Sleep for supporting and pressing it. Both Somos and Have Mercy are up-and-comers in the emo/alternative rock scene, and could easily be the next to explode with just one more solid full length. Somos is literally right there, let’s just hope Have Mercy have a few more tricks up their sleeve. 3/5
RIYL: any past Have Mercy or Somos material
Definitely check out: Streets Upon Streets
Shameless plug of lesser-known bands who sound similar: Grandview
Have Mercy is a four-piece alternative-emo rock band from Baltimore, MD. You can check them out on facebook, twitter, and on tour with Weatherbox, YMAEWK, and Head North starting March 12th. Somos is a four-piece emo band from Boston, MA. You can check them out on facebook, twitter, and on tour in support of Tigers Jaw and Lemuria starting April 1st.