Mercury Rev

Last updated
Mercury Rev
Mercury rev.jpg
Mercury Rev at All Tomorrow's Parties in 2004.
Background information
Origin Buffalo, New York, United States
Genres
Years active1989–present
Labels
Members
Past members
Website mercuryrev.com

Mercury Rev is an American indie rock band formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York. [5] Original personnel were David Baker (vocals), Jonathan Donahue (vocals, guitars), Sean Mackowiak, known as "Grasshopper" (guitars, clarinet), Dave Fridmann (bass guitar), Suzanne Thorpe (flute) and Jimy Chambers (drums).

Contents

History

The first years with David Baker

The band's members met while students at the University at Buffalo. Buffalo media studies professor Tony Conrad was a strong artistic influence on co-founder Grasshopper. [6] The band was initially formed to score its members' student films. [7]

With their early records, Mercury Rev offered experimental, psychedelic rock, which gradually shifted to a melodic, ornate sound. Mercury Rev is often compared to The Flaming Lips, [8] and share close ties: soon after the band's formation, Donahue also joined the Flaming Lips as second guitarist and appeared on two of their albums; and since the 1990 album In a Priest Driven Ambulance , Dave Fridmann has co-produced every Flaming Lips studio album to date except 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart .

Despite considerable critical acclaim, [9] [10] [11] their early releases never gave Mercury Rev more than cult popularity, [8] though they appeared on the smaller second stage at some 1993 Lollapalooza stops. Baker left after their second record, Boces (1993), citing musical and personal disputes; he later recorded an album as Shady. With his departure, the thematically darker and musically experimental features of the band began to disappear. [4]

Transitional period

The band's first post-Baker album, See You on the Other Side (1995) contained a variety of styles, including a sprawling psychedelic opening track and noise rock numbers like "Young Man's Stride" (for which a music video was released), but also more melodic songs, such as "Sudden Ray of Hope".

That year, the group also recorded and released the album, Paralyzed Mind Of The Archangel Void, under the moniker "Harmony Rockets". The album featured a single forty minute track of mostly instrumental psychedelic improvised music. It was rated four and half stars, out of five, by AllMusic. The group performed it again in the Don't Look Back concert series in 2009.

Wide critical and commercial success

Beginning in the late 1990s, the band based itself in Kingston, New York where Donahue was born. [7]

The 1998 release of the acclaimed [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] Deserter's Songs (which featured appearances by Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band) made Mercury Rev unexpected pop stars. In the UK, NME magazine made Deserter's Songs their Album of the Year. [17] Donahue's earnest, high-pitched vocals and concentration on relatively concise, melodic songs gave the band's material an entirely new feel and much increased popularity (Deserter's Songs spawned three UK Top 40 singles: "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp", "Opus 40" and "Goddess On A Hiway").

All Is Dream was issued in 2001 and became the band's highest charting album in the UK to date (#11). It included "Little Rhymes", "Nite And Fog" and "The Dark is Rising," which reached No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart. [18] David Bowie producer Tony Visconti arranged strings for the album.

Later years

Mercury Rev's The Secret Migration was released on January 24, 2005. It featured the UK Top 40 single "In A Funny Way" (#28). The album itself reached #16 in the UK Albums chart. It was followed up in 2006, by a compilation album, The Essential Mercury Rev: Stillness Breathes 1991-2006 and the film soundtrack album Hello Blackbird.

The band released a pair of albums on September 29, 2008: Snowflake Midnight , and a free MP3 album of instrumentals, Strange Attractor .

The Light in You was released on October 2, 2015 through Bella Union, their first studio album in seven years. It reached #39 on the UK albums chart. [19] Mercury Rev's most recent album, a reworking of Bobbie Gentry's seminal album The Delta Sweete , was released in February 2019. [20] The album features instrumentation by Mercury Rev and a female guest singer unique to each song. Lucinda Williams, actress Carice van Houten, Beth Orton and Norah Jones were among the vocalists. The album was another UK Top 40 hit in the UK for the band (#32).

"Holes" was covered by The National's lead singer Matt Berninger in 2020.

Trivia

In 2021 "Holes" was featured in the popular Sing 2 movie. Other movies in which the band's songs can be heard are Gunpowder Milkshake (2020, "Goddess On A Hiway") and Love And Monsters (2020, "Opus 40").

Band members

Film Music Live Improvisation for the short movie The Red Balloon Mercury Rev at Tel Aviv 11.jpg
Film Music Live Improvisation for the short movie The Red Balloon

Discography

Albums

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Sales
UK
[21]
US
Heat.

[22]
AUS
[23]
BE
(Wa)

[24]
BE
(Fl)

[25]
FRA
[26]
NOR
[27]
SWE
[28]
1991 Yerself Is Steam
1993 Boces 43
1995 See You on the Other Side
  • Released: 19 September 1995
  • Label: Beggars Banquet
Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void(as 'Harmony Rockets')
  • Released: 10 October 1995
  • Label: Big Cat
1998 Deserter's Songs
  • Released: 29 September 1998
  • Label: V2
2785361538
2001 All Is Dream
  • Released: 11 September 2001
  • Label: V2
1117364627455
2005 The Secret Migration
  • Released: 24 January 2005
  • Label: V2
166648273027
2008 Snowflake Midnight
  • Released: 29 September 2008
  • Label: V2/Yep Roc
52149448150
2008 Strange Attractor
  • Released: 29 September 2008
  • Label: Self-released
2013 Inner Autumn Outer Space
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Self-released
2015 The Light in You 391527766
2019 Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited
  • Released: 4 February 2019
  • Label: Bella Union
32184
[31]

Compilation albums, live albums and soundtracks

Singles and EPs

Other contributions

See also

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<i>Yerself Is Steam</i> 1991 studio album by Mercury Rev

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Grasshopper is an American musician with the band Mercury Rev. He has also appeared with Rev side-project Harmony Rockets, his own band Grasshopper and the Golden Crickets, and as a guest musician on numerous other recordings.

David Baker is an American musician best known as a founding member and the former lead singer of the indie rock band Mercury Rev, formed in Buffalo, New York in the late 1980s, and after as vocalist for Variety Lights.

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References

  1. Cardew, Ben (May 18, 2016). "Mercury Rev – 10 of the best". The Guardian .
  2. DeVille, Chris (July 1, 2016). "Premature Evaluation: The Avalanches Wildflower". Stereogum .
  3. "Neo-Psychedelia". AllMusic . n.d.
  4. 1 2 3 Jason Ankeny (2001-09-11). "Mercury Rev | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  5. Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Miers, Jeff (April 23, 2018). "Mercury Rev found magic in UB professor Tony Conrad's alchemy". The Buffalo News . Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  7. 1 2 Sisario, Ben (9 September 2008). "Just Your Standard Rock Band: Guitar, Drums and Electroencephalograph". The New York Times . Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  8. 1 2 "Mercury Rev". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  9. "Chris Roberts reviews Mercury Rev's Yerself Is Steam, 16th February 1991 | Archived Music Press". Archivedmusicpress.wordpress.com. 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  10. Archived September 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Heather Phares (1995-09-19). "See You on the Other Side - Mercury Rev | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic . Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  12. Jason Ankeny. "Deserter's Songs - Mercury Rev | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic . Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  13. Archived May 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. Nme.Com (2005-09-12). "NME Reviews - Deserter's Songs". Nme.com. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  15. Archived October 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. Sinclair, Tom (1998-09-25). "Deserter's Songs". EW.com. Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  17. "Rocklist.net...NME Lists Menu Page". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 1992-05-09. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  18. "The Official UK Top 40". BBC News. January 27, 2002. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  19. "The Light in You - Mercury Rev | Credits". AllMusic . 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  20. "Mercury Rev | Bella Union". Bellaunion.com. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  21. "Chart Stats - Mercury Rev". Official Charts Company . Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  22. "Mercury Rev | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  23. Peaks in Australia:
    • All Is Dream: "Discography Mercury Rev". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
    • Deserter's Songs and The Secret Migration: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia’s Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 185.
  24. "Discography Mercury Rev". ultratop.be/fr. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
  25. "Discography Mercury Rev". ultratop.be/nl. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
  26. "Discographie Mercury Rev". lescharts.com. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  27. "Discography Mercury Rev". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  28. "Discography Mercury Rev". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
  29. 1 2 "Certified Awards Search Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine ". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 2011-12-26. Note: User needs to enter "Mercury Rev" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  30. Martens, Todd (1 September 2001). "Mercury Rev Creates An Upbeat, Mythic World On V2's 'All Is Dream'". Billboard. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  31. "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums Fusionnes – SNEP (Week 7, 2019)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 18 February 2019.[ permanent dead link ]