Split EPs can be very hit and miss, one band may take the chance to test out new material before a forthcoming full length, whilst the other simple throws together some half baked cover versions. However, this effort from Have Mercy and Somos is a resounding success. Despite only having one new song, it provides more than enough to please a fan of either band. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the release of this EP. It is the first music from either band since their respective albums dropped last year, both of which made their way onto many an end of year list.
Have Mercy kick things off with a stripped back acoustic version of their single ‘Two Years’, it provides a refreshingly different appreciation of what was already a fantastic song. Vocalist Brian Swindle opts for a more restrained delivery which really makes the listener appreciate the immense detail of the lyrics, which can sometimes be overshadowed by the intricate guitars of the usual Have Mercy full band offerings.
The second track, a cover of the Jackson Browne 80’s classic ‘Somebody’s Baby,’ brings a more familiar Have Mercy sound. The varying vocal dynamic and intricate take on the pop hooks of the original helps make this cover for a very enjoyable listen. Like it is often the case with Have Mercy, you tend to notice different nuances and harmonies on every listen.
Next is the time for Somos to step up to the plate. The Boston 4 piece are not dissimilar to Have Mercy sonically which helps this split work so well. ‘Streets Upon Streets’ is the first and only helping of new original material on the EP. It is clear from the very start that Somos have not slowed down at all since releasing critically acclaimed ‘Temple of Plenty’ last year. The track ‘Familiar Theme’ from this full length was so good, it made its way onto the Already Heard song of the year playlist 2014. ‘Streets Upon Streets’ continues exactly where the band left off, dynamically brilliant, with plenty complex yet melodic riffs, eventually building up into an amazing crescendo of a chorus.
The second acoustic version of this split is just as engaging as the previous tracks. Although Somos keep many of the original riffs from ‘Domestic’, the introduction of well thought out vocal harmonies and the odd touch of reverb help to make this different enough from the album version. Its always good to see a band putting so much effort into an acoustic version. In this instance, much like the Have Mercy effort, it really breathes new life into the song.
’Have Mercy/Somos Split‘ by Have Mercy/Somos is released on 24th February on No Sleep Records.
Words by Andy McGonigle (@ANDYJMCG87)