Grunge Meets the 21st Century
Classifying rock music today is more of an art than a science. Genres like alternative, pop, and grunge that were easy to distinguish in the 90s now run together in a sea of derivative terms: pop punk, garage rock revival, and post-grunge. Placing the Burden Brothers, a so-called supergroup led by former Toadies front man Vanden Todd Lewis, into one of these categories presents a problem that can only be solved by tagging them “modern rock” while comparing their sound to bands like Blind Melon and Everclear.The Burden Brothers’ remarkably unclassifiable Mercy is a collection of songs ranging from indistinctive hard rock to radio-friendly acoustic tracks that listeners are bound to hum. Unfortunately the album opens and closes with mediocre tracks like the dawdling and instrumental “It’s Time” and the bland “Liberated,” a six minute display of repetitive lyrics and typical chord progressions. But in between lie songs that would have been right at home on college party playlists in the 1990s.
Though formulaic, catchy guitar hooks are the trademark of “Still,” a straight-up alternative rock song which is the album’s definitive track. Also in the same vein is “On My Own,” a track that maintains the band’s alternative sound while adding pop-punk variations.
Lying smack dab in the middle of Mercy is “Good Night From Chicago,” which showcases the Burden Brothers’ trademark blend of genres, opening with pop-punk rhythms that give way to an alternative chorus and a hard rock electric guitar-driven bridge. Other songs of note are the ballad-like “Life Between,” the only track featuring piano, and the title track, which fades into “In My Sky,” an acoustic track with a raw, raspy edge.
The genre-defying tone of Mercy comes across both boringly standard and alluringly nostalgic. It’s a refreshing listen given the current celebrity gossip- and Coldplay-saturated rock music market. A little bit of grungy garage rock pop punk revival goes a long way.