We’re no strangers to the work of Philly punk rockers Merit Maker. Technically a solo effort created by Joe Stanton, under this name he’s released a total of four projects – Judgement Calls, Quarantined, Attitude is Everything, and his most recent work, Breaking Edge.
This five-track EP features Joe Stanton (bass, lead vocals), Mitchell Layton (guitar), Lukas JP (drums), Mike Barber (backing vocals), and Mike Lupton (backing vocals), and shows a remarkable amount of artistic growth and development from the band’s founding member.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Come Undone is a driving and powerful introduction to the EP. Bass-heavy with a memorable leading riff, the track is a blend of unified melodic elements and complex rhythms. The shift at 2:00 offers a respite from the intensity, bringing a moment of ’90s inspired nostalgia to the forefront – followed by a brief but wildly impressive guitar solo.
High energy is a trend across this project and Higher Hopes delivers on that front. This is a firey, electric piece with a tight melodic arrangement that builds intensity very effectively. In between passages of pure grittiness, the vocals in this track show clear moments of the alternative/emo influence that Stanton mentions, merging this effectively with what is a definitively recognizable punk rhythm. Indeed, Stanton’s ability to pull individual elements from an array of rock styles and work them into a well-blended end result is a highlight of his work that is heavily showcased across this EP.
We also love Deal Breaker for its almost pop-leaning catchiness and another example of Stanton’s clear alternative influence, and This and More for its technical guitar work and bright, attention-grabbing melodies that leave us wanting more as the EP closes.
With this release, Merit Maker continues to carve out an identifiable space in the punk world. Joe Stanton‘s ability to combine such a wide variety of rock sounds into one cohesive project gives him a standout quality in his genre. This makes his music both recognizable and accessible to fans of music in an impressively large number of different categories. And most notably on Breaking Edge, Stanton seems to have found a groove – everything from the vocal performance to the melodic composition feels stronger than ever, and has us looking forward to whatever else this dynamic artist might have in store in the future.
BELOW: Listen to Breaking Edge and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Merit Maker by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!