I remember the first time I ever heard Merchandise.
May 2011. I was lying on the floor of my 6 story walk up in Berlin, Germany with my best friend, listening to the records we had just bought from the purely punk vinyl shop down the street. She pulled out (Strange Songs) in the Dark that featured a photo of a boy, who looked like a friend of mine. She couldn’t believe I had never heard of this band Merchandise. The first song she played was called “I Locked the Door,” and I couldn’t remember the last time I had so quickly fallen in love.
I could never nail down the genre, probably because they like to reinvent. A most important constant is that lead man Carson Cox has the voice of an 80’s superstar. Their early albums mix his booming vocals with static guitar and strange melodies. Everything was incredibly raw – except him.
I would spend the next few years showing this band to my friends, my co-workers, my peers, but quickly learned it was a slim to nothing chance they would drink the Merchandise Kool-Aid quite like I did.
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw them as this weeks “First Listen” from NPR. This is not to discredit the wonderful folks at NPR music. It’s just, the Merchandise I knew was difficult to comprehend and difficult to google. Only after giving the entire forthcoming album After The End a listen, did it all made sense. They’ve made a pop record, and it is damn good. Time has transformed these Tampa, FL boys, but strangely enough, my burning love has never wavered.
Here’s a taste:
Batten down the hatches – this band is about to blow up.