Probably one of the tightest, most exciting bands to come out of the guitar-driven emo scene of the mid-'90s was Braid, a Chicago foursome who nearly perfected the venerable rock trick of building up a song slowly and quietly before a crashing, explosive chorus. (Think Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit.") Braid's infectious hooks and totally unexpected time-signature changes were so perfectly executed, it was hard not to assume that their sound was just a product of studio trickery. But in concert they were even better, reproducing the melody and rhythm with uncanny precision.
Braid called it quits back in 1999, but soon after, three of the four moved to Milwaukee and reappeared with a new guitarist as Hey Mercedes: a slower, more mature, and in many aspects, less exciting version of Braid.
On their second full-length, Loses Control, the sound is suspiciously familiar, but all the fist-clenching, heart-thumping moments are clearly reminiscent of classic Braid. On the second track, "It's Been A Blast," Bob Nanna's vocals are urgent and intense, but except for two or three other tracks, he seems to lose interest. Then again, Hey Mercedes is an entirely new project, and it's probably safe to say they've also got entirely new goals. But old influences are hard to break. Suffice it to say that I'll be waiting for Hey Mercedes, chapter three, with bated breath -- but with slightly diminished expectations.