Mercury Salad Sandwich is dishing out a tasty second helping of their scrumptious acoustic funk.
The Ypsilanti Americana folk-rock quartet has released their second EP, “Pandemonium,” featuring a laid-back, twangy sound layered with beefy bits of funk, folk, and country smashed between two thick slices of acoustic-centered goodness.
“It’s a better album than the first one because we were trying so hard, and we now have a better idea of what we want to sound like,” said Brooke Ratliff, Mercury Salad Sandwich’s vocalist, guitarist and percussionist. “We’re just happy to release it, promote it and show the public that we’re not going to release one album and then fade away.”
Ratliff teamed up with Mercury Salad Sandwich bandmates Kurt Bonnell (acoustic and electric guitar), Dan “Ozzie” Andrews (acoustic and electric bass) and Kyle Kipp (drums and guitar) to record 14 tracks early last year with Jim Roll, a Willis Sound recording engineer and former owner-operator of Ann Arbor’s Backseat Productions, to split them over two EPs.
“They’re great because they really perform the songs,” Roll said. “They’re able to do 14 songs in an economic manner that really has a good feel. We scheduled a session, Brooke came in, she checked her vocals, she re-sang what she needed to re-sing, Kurt laid down a couple guitar tracks, and they were like, ‘Sweet, mix ‘em up.’”
After recording 14 tracks, the band included the first eight on their debut EP, “Volume 1,” which dropped last October, while the remaining six make up “Pandemonium.” Fans can stream and download Mercury Salad Sandwich’s latest release for free via their website.
“Pandemonium” opens with Mercury Salad Sandwich’s latest single, “Let It Go,” a groovy acoustic, percussion-laden tune examining the power of gossip and the negative effect it has on people. Ratliff wrote the lyrics after hearing the Big Maybelle blues classic, “Hair Dressin’ Women,” and paired it with Bonnell’s music.
“I was paying homage to her idea about gossip, but mine was a barber shop,” Ratliff said. “I had this idea in my head of this old man who’s just sort of a gossip and spreading stuff.”
Mercury Salad Sandwich also pays homage to Martha Stewart in a track of the same name. Ratliff sings about the challenges of living up to the domestic goddess’ expectations in tandem with a Johnny Cash-inspired country beat – “My favorite thing is canned pears/They go good with hot dogs and Jell-O squares/One look at the table, and one thing is clear/Martha Stewart don’t live here.”
“I got the idea from a sign that you can buy for your house,” Ratliff said. “It’s just the fact that some people are so below her standard, but that’s OK because they’re nice people, and they’re doing their life their way.”
To celebrate their latest release, Mercury Salad Sandwich will perform two upcoming shows–Jan. 19 with Bull Halsey at 8 p.m. at The Rumpus Room in Chelsea and Feb. 9 at with New Moon Party at 7:30 p.m. at Blom Meadworks in Ann Arbor.