STREAM: Tanner Merritt – “Wretched Things”

O'Brother - Live at the Masquerade - May 13, 2012
Photo by Bobby Russell

Prior to joining O’Brother in 2008, frontman Tanner Merritt had compiled a collection of songs that didn’t quite fit in with his new group’s aggressive atmospheric sludge attack. Not wanting to see the music languish and vanish, Merritt took the time to track a solo record at Glow in the Dark Studios with producer and engineer Matt McClellan. But then life happened. Both Merritt and McClellan got busy with their respective artistic endeavors and the record languished. Then it vanished. For a couple of years anyway.

But last week Merritt surprised fans by announcing that he would finally be releasing his solo debut on Bandcamp. It seems that over the past year he revisited the lost tracks and has since been working with bandmate Michael Martens to tighten up the sound and complete the record. The nine-song Doubt was uploaded and unveiled yesterday at midnight, nearly four years after its inception and with very little fanfare. The goal is to raise enough money from download sales to fund the recording of a new set of solo material. With any luck, Merritt hopes to have a follow-up finished by year’s end.

I’m only starting to make my way into the record, so I can’t comment on it as a whole, but so far I’m really digging “Wretched Things,” which finds Merritt successfully threading the needle between the contemplative ambiance of the verses and the turgid, bone-clattering distortion of the chorus. It’s an aesthetic approach we’ve heard O’Brother put to good use before, but the method here is more simple and direct. “Just take all our fragments and pieces and bring them back to life,” he growls near the song’s end, a terse and defiant nod to the resurrection of a project once thought dead.

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