The Mercenaries

Last Resident in a Tourist Town

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This is one of those bands that is probably tons of fun in a small club; then you buy the CD at the merchandise table and bring it home, only to find that the band's energy and songcraft don't hold up quite as well in a studio setting. You also realize that the bandmembers are not great singers, which is always easy to overlook in a small-club setting. The Mercenaries hit the nail right on head several times on this album: "Never Is a Long, Long, Time" deserves a cover version, and "Feelin' Guilty" is a nicely swinging slab of greasy roadhouse rock & roll. But there are some serious missteps as well: The horn-driven "Brand New Dad" combines a poppy, upbeat tune with a deeply melancholy story of divorce and sexual abuse told from the perspective of a sad teenage girl; it's not clear what the intended effect of that juxtaposition is, but it ends up being creepy, and not in a good way. And the faux reggae and adolescent wordplay of "Big 4 Inch" are just annoying. These guys have got promise, but they're not quite ready for prime time yet.