MERGER: Self-titled: LP

Right from jump, it starts out pretty jangly and a little surfy. But then it quickly becomes the missing link between Embrace and Fugazi. I totally love the vocals—melodic and gritty with a helluva lot of earnestness to them. On top of those qualities, he has resemblance in tone to Ian MacKaye. Some of the tracks have a second vocalist chime in, and it’s not quite the same dichotomy Ian had with Guy Picciotto, but it’s endearing in its own way. Quite a few of the tracks have these noodley guitar parts in the lead, but they never feel self indulgent or showboat-y. I rather like the tone of the guitar, the rhythm section is strong but not overpowering in the mix, and the pacing of the songs is solid. A couple slow dirges, a couple mid-tempo tracks, and a couple of all-out bangers. Also love that this record came with a 4” x 6” color photo of the band playing live. Made me feel like something I’d get from a pen pal in the late ’90s. These guys are cool. –Kayla Greet (Impetus)