Drinking Mercury, a side project of GTG cohorts Tommy McCord (guitar/vocals), Michael Boyes (vocals/guitar/ukulele), Timmy Rodriguez (bass/vocals) and Kevin Adams (drums/percussion/vocals), will release their new EP entitled “Words” on Saturday January 22nd at Mac’s Bar.

Here’s a Review.

Having existed since 2000, I’ve been missing out on this excellent band for quite some time. The first Drinking Mercury track I ever heard was their cover of Devo’s “Beautiful World” for “Explosions: Lansing Salutes Devo”. It was full of spacey electric guitars, folky acoustic guitars and Micheal Boyes’ one-of-a-kind warbly voice.

“Words”, at first listen, with the opener Hey, Hey Sally, feels like it draws from Modest Mouse-esque alternative rock. Boyes’ voice is due in part to this, although his voice is more melodic than say MM singer Issac Brock. His opening jangly drone of “Hey, Hey” is instantly ingrained in my head as one of those get-chills type moments. The guitars are strummed along for the most part. Toward the end of the song, the overdrive kicks in and finishes the song off nicely.

Grateful Day, the EP’s second track, shows the versatility of these musicians. Percussion is the star here. Bongos, shakers and claves are all present. They give the song a “walking through a rained out forest”-type vibe. Guitars are low in the mix and minimal. Boyes’ voice is also a great choice for lead vocals (as three of the four members sing). I also like the ending, where an almost 8-bit synth or guitar plays the songs motif.

The 8th, is Drinking Mercury in overdrive mode (literally). Distortion, wah and feedback patrol the sound here. Bits of dissonance drip here and there. McCord takes the lead vocal spot here. His vocal is perfect for the song but I felt that it seemed a little lacking in the inspiration department. It was a decent take that maybe seems more like it would fit in with his other project, The Plurals.

Remmy, following The 8th, seems a little out of place in the tracklisting as is. All the momentum from the previous song is pulled out from under the listener with a slow ballad. That complaint aside, I love the song. McCord again takes the lead vocal, singing lines like “Lay my pen onto paper/thinkin bout you again/I walk my mind through this cliche/every single night”. Great lyrics that paint a picture of a person in love (or is it post-breakup? I’m no good at analyzing lyrics). Space and ambiance play a large roll in the feel of the song. The instruments are spaced apart yet cohesive. The distorted, rocking ending plays up their alternative rock roots.

Noisemaker is another foray into distorted alternative pop. It is basically the same formula as The 8th. There are some differences though. A fingerpicked electric guitar intro is showcased here. After that, a big distortion kick pops up. Bassist Timmy Rodriguez takes the lead vocal here (his first lead DM vocal). His voice is refreshing to hear since I have heard McCord’s voice countless times and Boyes’ voice is distinct enough as it is. Beyond these differences, it is similar in style to The 8th, which is not a bad thing. It helps to showcase what the band can do well.

The closing track, The Day Before, has Boyes back at the vocal helm. The song’s overall tone is similar to Grateful Day or Hey, Hey Sally (although it is less rocking and more balladry). I love the backing vocal here. It has a gospel-like quality to it; very soothing. The first half of the song can be described as such. The second half of the song picks up speed a bit but still has the great backing vocal. I actually can imagine this song as the soundtrack to the whale jump scene in Free Willy (maybe it’s just me).

Overall, this EP has some great songs and some OK songs. Songs in the former category include Hey, Hey Sally and Grateful Day. Mainly due to Boyes’ vocal takes. They are infectious and instantly recognizable. I also love the music in those songs. The guitars and drums/percussion make the songs get stuck in my head.

Songs like The 8th are in the latter category. I just find them to be underestimated and a little boring. Believe me, that is hard for me to type, especially since Tommy McCord is a great songwriter, guitarist and vocalist. He is one of my all-time favorite songwriters so it’s hard for me to call one of his songs “lacking” or even “boring”. I feel that this style has been done a thousand times, regardless of who writes the song. I’m just not particularly fond of it is all.

Drinking Mercury have been around for a long time so they must be doing something right. Check out their release show for the “Words” EP at Mac’s Bar this coming Saturday with Mason’s Case, Elliot Street Lunatic and The Playback. Tickets are $8, is 18+ and the show starts at 8pm.