“The whole record is me talking about how much I don’t like me.” That’s how Brendan Scholz, lead singer of Las Vegas pop-punk band Mercy Music, describes his band’s latest full-length album, Until the End of Your World, released July 13 on La Escalera records.
It starts out sweet, almost saccharine-sounding, as a xylophone playfully clanks atop chugging guitars. It’s a keen juxtaposition against Scholz’s jarring opening line—“Am I too afraid/To kill myself? These inner wounds/Won’t heal themselves”—setting the tone for the rest of the 11-song LP, energetic and upbeat but wrought with intense emotion, much of it dealing openly with the singer’s mental health.
“I’ve been telling people if you were to yell at yourself from outside yourself, that’s the theme of the record … if you could hate yourself in the third person,” Scholz says from a Holiday Inn Express in Fullerton, California, while on tour.
Sprinkled with charismatic and jangly hooks, steadfast and danceable drumbeats and driving guitar solos, End of Your World falls somewhere near the melodic punk of Against Me! and early-’00s Saves the Day, while achieving something blissfully timeless. The lyrics are a lesson in self-flagellation, but they’re paired with bright, poppy chord progressions and anthemic bridges, along with Scholz’s shiny guitar solos and bold, ever-so-raspy vocals. The album is full of pained material, but Until the End of Your World is also polished and purposeful. (Hear “With Love” or “Hey Brother” for a quick sampling.)
Mercy Music has never had its eyes so fixed on the prize. The guys recently landed a booking agent at Paquin Artists Agency, a Canadian group that represents The Flatliners, Hot Water Music, Iron Chic and Old Crow Medicine Show.
“One of their agents called me that day and liked the record so much she wanted to help us out,” Scholz says. “She put us on this tour that day, within an hour.” He and bandmates Rye Martin (drums) and Jarred Cooper (bass) wrapped up that 10-gig West Coast trek opening for LA five-piece Spanish Love Songs on July 28.
As a group, Mercy Music sounds more keyed-in than ever. “There’s just something there that’s very special,” Scholz says about the addition of Martin, who joined the band three years ago but hadn’t been featured on a record until now. That fiery energy ignites when they play live. “It’s just nice to see people singing along to it already,” Scholz adds, fondly recalling a recent gig in Seattle where everyone knew the words to the set-closer “Fine” from 2014’s When I Die, I’m Taking You With Me.
Despite the successful tour, however, Scholz is leery to call Mercy Music a home run just yet. “For the first time, I don’t think it’s too far off to make this sustainable,” Scholz says. “I feel like we’re close. But at the same time, I’m the glass-half-empty guy.”
MERCY MUSIC Next shows August 30 at Bunkhouse Saloon, September 15 at Beauty Bar. mercymusicforyou.com