The name of the game today is Merykid‘s newest EP, Boy and the Bird, and why you should get it. First of all, you should all trust my excellent taste and judgment in these matters. Failing that, take a look at my impressions, then give Merykid a listen. This guy is a singer-songwriter, yes, but his music is greater than that bland definition. It has attitude, sincere emotion, and creative writing. Songs alternately brought to mind other artists like Temposhark, Sufjan Stevens, and Keaton Simons. What’s more, all the tracks are equally accessible individually or as a whole, which is always a plus, right?
“Bad Things” starts things off right with a wicked keyboard intro and thick effects on the vocals. It comes off as kind of echo-y, almost like the vocalist is singing through a megaphone. The song wastes no time, morphing into a Temposhark-esque drumbeat and electronic bit. The lyrics on this song are simplistic, but vocals are strong and sound great: “Sometimes the bad things are the best things.” Overall, the song is set apart with tons of electronic effects, and 3D sound moving between left and right monitors.
There’s a totally different tone on “The Bird,” which features an acoustic guitar intro and clean vocals; it’s more traditional singer/songwriter territory. The vocals remind me of Keaton Simons a little, or maybe Jason Mraz. The addition of drums, bass, and violin at around the one minute mark flesh out the track’s sound and give it more character. Around 1:30, Merykid surprises with a transition into a jazzy breakdown as drums, piano, then electric guitar are added. “The Bird” gains a lot of attitude here, great differentiation from more generic stuff. Strong rhythm and counter-beats among the different instrumental parts top off a great song.
“Goodbye Moon” is up next, and it takes a departure from the previous two tracks. It opens with marimba – a softer, quieter, feel than earlier. Add in xylophone, strings, and then vocals, the combination of which made me think of Sufjan Stevens (by no means a bad artist to be compared to). Vocals are good, though lyrics have something of a dark undertone with the likes of, “I am not the kind of man who talks about his problems / when they need not be told / and I am sinking deeper into the quicksand around me / and I feel I am alone / So goodbye to the moon, and goodbye to the stars above.” The instrumentation here is excellent, really making for great effect when the more traditional rock ensemble comes in on top. There are layers and layers of sound, walls of sound, all emotional and energetic and vibrant and flowing. It’s great stuff, really.
“Clean Freak! Ghost!” was by far my favorite song of the album, though I’m hard-pressed to offer a specific reason why. It opens with some great lines like, “You could be a beggar the way you ask me for change / I could be a mover how you’re asking me to stay.” I find it a little strange that this is my favorite, because it’s the closest to what I would consider a typical/generic singer/songwriter approach – acoustic guitar and vocals, little else. Maybe it’s because this one feels like it’s got the most emotion invested in it. It seems personal. Some electronic effects enter at the chorus, but they only add to the overall feel. “I’m a clean freak ghost / I cover my tracks and I disappear like smoke / I’m a desperate man / So I will be on my way as soon as I can.” This is also by far the longest track of the album, weighing in at 6:40, but it’s worth every second.
Boy and the Bird is a great release from Merykid. It’s got plenty of depth and variety, especially for a six-track EP. What’s more, I discovered that this guy is from my hometown, beautiful (hot) San Antonio. Hopefully I can catch a performance when I get back into the states. For the rest of you, check out his stuff on http://myspace.com/merykid, or pick up Boy and the Bird on iTunes.