InFlowences: The Merks

After featuring them as the Set 4 Score in our Summer Solstice episode, we figured we’d chat with Connecticut band The Merks to discuss some of the artists and songs that influenced them throughout their music career.  Nick Claps and Conor Philips dive into what drives their band’s sound while chatting about a few of the artists as well.  The range on this is incredible! From garage rock to pop, to vocal jazz, The Merks pull from all walks of music.



Conor Philips: “The Growlers write incredibly catchy songs that reflect vibes of groovy disco in their album “City Club” and use really unique synths and guitar effects doing really catchy melodies. Their live shows are long and fun and heavily influenced how we like to perform live.”

Conor Philips: “I love her strong voice and the natural rasp that pops into her voice sometimes has a really nice feel to it. It makes it sound effortless and like she is very genuine and not trying to pretend anything and just singing naturally. I try to take that same idea and apply it to my vocals.”

Conor Philips: “I have been very obsessed with Post Malone lately. I started with his recent release, Beerbongs & Bentleys and then was so in love with it that I backtracked and bought his first album, “stony.” I think that Post is amazing because he takes modern pop and hip-hop and fuses it together with beautiful melodies but very in your face and modern lyrics. I hope that our band can find that same balance between different genres so that we can play something we love and something that others can love just as much. I think as a musician you are usually a little farther ahead on your musical journey than a person who is just a consumer of music rather than a producer. This kind of creates a communication break down between an artists intentions of growth and evolution and the consumer’s expectations. I think if The Merks ever want widespread recognition we need to take it on as our responsibility and bridge that gap so that people will be interested enough to listen and then we can more easily take them along on our journey through different aspects of music and hopefully just keep getting better.”

Conor Philips: The Voidz’ recent album Virtue is a great influence. The Voidz songs are all so dynamic layered with unique melodies with guitars and synths each having such a great thought out tone.

Nick Clap: “Catfish and The Bottlemen are powerful and have a classic fun alternative rock that reminds me of childhood. I love how their music is so accessible, with fun happy/catchy melodies.”

Conor Philips: “Jim Morrison started my obsession with lyrics when I was about 13. I read a biography about his life and his love for literature and then got heavily into the doors. he helped me learn how to dream up a scenario in my head and then use it to write lyrics that would hopefully bring the listener on an emotional journey through a song. Also, I loved the power in his voice and I feel like he was awesome at harnessing the power of his voices imperfections to make the art seem more real like a random poet had started a band and was singing his songs to the best of his ability. His lifestyle of excess was also very interesting to me in how he pushed everything to its limit from drugs to just daily activities in general. I personally don’t find fun in drugs necessarily but I do take that excessiveness and focus it in other areas of my life whether it is working late into the night to finish a song or getting very deeply involved in learning about new topics or working out.”

Conor Philips: “The Strokes or basically their frontman and main songwriter, Julian Casablancas has been a massive inspiration. Where Jim helped to show the way in the form of lyrics, Julian is a great mentor to follow if you want to write a perfectly crafted song. The strokes songs have no extraneous parts and every single part is tastefully added to complete the product. I love the way they interweave guitars harmonically and melodically and it sounds like a tight whirlwind of sound rather than a jumbled mess. That is something huge that we work hard to try and incorporate into our music but I don’t think we have fully achieved that yet. I personally find the most vocal inspiration from Julian because he writes his vocals in a way that serves the song rather than showing off how well he can sing. I also got more into falsetto and head-voice singing after he began doing it on comedown machine and in his later work with The Voidz.”

Conor Philips: “For me, Frank Sinatra really had two amazing talents. He could sing beautifully written melodies with perfect pitch but he could also assume the character of the subject in the song that he was singing. If he sang a song about being a young person excited for the experiences to come he would assume that character and then the next song he could be this downtrodden and abandoned middle-aged human that was looking for true love after a life of heartbreak. That chameleon-like quality is so important for an artist because without it you cant fully integrate yourself into the work of art and if you aren’t fully involved then your audience won’t be fully focused or affected by the message you are trying to send.”

We at Feel Me Flow want to thank Nick, Conor and The Merks for taking the time to chat with us about their InFlowences.  The Merks released The Mercenary EP in April of 2018 and are playing at Arlene’s Grocery on July 28th!

Check out our Discogs_logo.svgList for all of the releases featured!
Visit The Merks’ facebook


FMF Episode #39 – California

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DJ: Gnarly, bro! Welcome to Feel Me Flow! We’re headed West to the Golden State and celebrating the world’s fifth largest economy; California! The weather is heating up, people are busting out the shorts, and many of us are going to take a vacation this summer. Be it just up the road to the beach, or all the way to California, everyone needs those sunny vibes sent their way. What better way to celebrate the summer’s unofficial start than a sunshine-laden Cali episode!

Kicking things off is Dead Kennedys and a Boulder, Colorado transplant named Jello. Eric Reed Boucher migrated West like many, many other artistically driven souls. He attended UCSC before meeting East Bay Ray via an advertisement stating “guitarist wants to form punk band”. A few years later, we’d hear the debut LP of an incredible new punk band called the Dead Kennedys, with a frontman now going by Jello Biafra. Here’s “California Uber Alles” from the DK debut Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables.

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DJ: Man, that song is so Cali-feely. We weren’t going to make it through the show without playing it, that’s for sure! From the first LP to feature Bruce Johntson on the front cover as if he were an actual Beach Boy, that was “California Girls” off of 1965’s Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!).

Delta Spirit hail from San Diego, California, so it would seem they have experience in writing about the state. In an interview with Fender, Kelly Winrich stated “California” was written about his girlfriend on the East Coast while he was living in California. After troubles and difficulties they “called it quits” and he wrote the song soon after.

Kings Of Leon played us the third single they ever released with “California Waiting”. The song was previously released on their debut EP Holy Roller Novocaine but rerecorded for the debut album Youth And Young Manhood. On Kings of Leon’s VH1 Storytellers performance, Caleb Followill bemoaned “We kind of sabotaged it on our album, and tried to play it really punk rock. It was better on the EP I think.”

Another absolute must play for today is Joe Jones’ Golden State anthem “California Sun”. Pretty much every garage band or band we’ve played on this show for that matter has covered the song thanks to The Rivieras cover that was a hugely successful single. Joe fraudulently claimed that he wrote New Orleans’ staples “Iko Iko”, “It Ain’t My Fault” and “Carnival Time”, but was disproven in court. Perhaps this is why more credit was never given to the guy for recording the original “California Sun”.

Another track that’s been thrown around the cover mill is Ashford & Simpson‘s “California Soul”. Originally recorded by The Messengers as a B-side and then as an A-side by The Fifth Dimension, the track would eventually make its way to Marlena Shaw. Marlena’s version would stay under the radar for most of the 20th century until being remixed and featured in commercials and video games such as Grand Theft Auto V in the 2010’s. Let’s get that laid-back melody going with Marlena Shaw.

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DJ: Canadian duo Surf Dads formed and first collaborated through iPhone demos sent back and forth across the continent. They’ve released four EPs and one full-length so far, with a brand new EP Long Weekend coming June 13th.  That track has some real Wavves vibes to it.

Unwritten Law formed in 1990 in Poway, California, home of Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus of blink-182. The San Diego suburb wasn’t even a real town until 1980, yet spawned an entire sub-genre creative scene with blink-182, Unwritten Law, and others only a short decade or so later. From Unwritten Law’s debut self-titled album, we played “California Sky”.

Dutch band Shocking Blue’s 1969 LP At Home reached audiences beyond their wildest dreams and years for that matter. Nirvana famously covered “Love Buzz” on their debut album Bleach, and who doesn’t know the song “Venus”? We played it on our Space episode if you haven’t heard it and want to check it out. The Side B lead-off cut “California Here I Come” played before Unwritten Law.

Margo Guryan never enjoyed the music career many dreamed of when moving to California. Her song “Sunday Morning” would be covered by Spanky And Our Gang on their second album Like To Get To Know You and bring notoriety to Guryan. Guryan recorded one solo album in 1968 and a handful of demos that would later be released by Franklin Castle/Oglio Records in 2001 from which we took “California Shake”.

Up next is one of three sub-themes for our California episode. We’ve got five West Coast-themed tunes coming at you, starting off with The Rolling Stones’ Nanker Phelge production “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”; their poke at marketers and those silly darn music businessmen in monkey suits. Later in the set, listen for a familiar voice. Or the kin of a familiar voice, rather. Here’s the Stones!

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DJ: FIDLAR’s “West Coast” was originally written for their 2012 self-released EP Shit We Recorded In Our Bedroom, but made the cut for their sophomore album Too. The song was a welcome transition after the Emily’s Army track before it. Every Emily’s Army album was produced by lead singer Joey Armstrong’s dad Billie Joe. Yes, that Billie Joe.

That is until the band would change their name to SWMRS. For SWMRS’ debut or the third in Emily’s Army’s discography, the band would call on FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper to produce. This took the band in a similar direction to FIDLAR with the use of drum machines mixed into punk rock screamers. From Emily’s Army’s debut, that was “West Coast”.

Balue is New Mexico musician Eli Thomas. Eli makes lo-fi music that sounds so perfect in a hot setting like an oasis or beach. It’s weird how those things work together, too. You’d think it’d be the other way around. Balue released Wavy Daze in 2016 and has plans for new music in 2018. Keep an eye on their Bandcamp!

Originally an Edmonton band named 49th Parallel, Painter would rework itself after moving to the American West Coast in the early 70s. They recorded their self-titled debut and only album in San Francisco and released it in 1973 to local acclaim. They opened for many international acts including KISS and Jethro Tull but would split up shortly afterward and all go on to new bands. Their big regional single “West Coast Woman” garnered them some attention but the national scene wouldn’t catch on.

Coming up in our fourth set is FMF regular band Best Coast singing about the only place they ever sing about. I’ll give you a hint; it starts with a “C” and ends with an “alifornia”. Following them will be a Set 4 Score from ex-Seattle’s La Luz. La Luz is on their way up, I tell you what! Their new album Floating Features is fierce, fantastic, and full of surfy goodness. More on that later. Here’s Best Coast!

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DJ: Roy Orbison’s 1989 comeback album turned out to be a smash hit. Allowing Jeff Lynne to guide and nurture him through the recording process, Roy churned out the hit single “You Got It”, his highest charting single since “Oh, Pretty Woman”. “California Blue” was co-written by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Mike Campbell and features them on the recording. Roy would die in December of 1989, just as his comeback was beginning.

Los Angeles band Cosmonauts droned their way through “California Dreaming”, and not the version you may have been expecting. The Burger Records residents released their latest A-OK! in 2016, their fourth album for the label.

The Main Ingredient kicked off our Fools episode with their most well-known track “Everybody Plays The Fool”. The third single released from their third album with Cuba Gooding Sr., “California My Way” brings funky chord progression with funky demands. The 1974 album Euphrates River peaked at number 8 on the Soul US charts.

La Luz slithered through the Set 4 Score with a killer new song “California Finally” from their latest Floating Features. The ex-Seattle-now-LA quartet’s debut album It’s Alive was produced by Ty Segall and was their first of three (so far) for Hardly Art. The newest album Floating Features was produced by Dan Auerbach and plucks all the right strings for a retro-vibe warm weather washout. Look for them on tour this summer in the US!

Our last two sets feature California’s biggest two cities. We’ll start off with the City of Angels; Los Angeles. We could, and maybe will do an entire show on Los Angeles. We could probably do one on San Francisco for that matter. For today, though, we’ll just grab a few classics and a few lesser-known hits for the sets. Starting the LA set off is Pixies frontman and founder Frank Black. Frank’s first solo record was released just months after the Pixies’ split. From his 1993 solo debut, here’s “Los Angeles”.

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DJ: X is from Los Angeles. Their debut album is titled Los Angeles. Their debut single was titled “Los Angeles”. We couldn’t leave them out of this. The 1980 debut was produced by another LA legend Ray Manzarek of The Doors. X even coved “Soul Kitchen” on the LP.

Miami, Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys put out Ping Pong in 2016 which saw a complete remix release the following year. I love when artists do a full album remix. It’s almost like the album was released in an alternate universe. We’ve played Jacuzzi Boys a few times before, they fit our profile here at FMF. We played the band’s ode to the city where they recorded that album, “Los Angeles” from 2011’s Glazin’. The title track to Glazin’ features a music video of vagina’s “lip-synching” to the tune. Ha!

Peach Kelli Pop has been everywhere lately, including last week’s FMF episode about Mountains with their song “Rocky Mountains”. From that same EP, the next track on it actually, we played “Los Angeles”. Look for PKP on tour summer 2018!

LA’s Bad Religion played a City of Angels jab from 2004’s The Empire Strikes First. The punk band has been singing LA-anti-anthems since their incredible debut; 1982’s How Could Hell Be Any Worse?. “Los Angeles Is Burning” was the lead single off of Empire, their thirteenth album released.

Our LA set was punk rock saturated for a good reason, a lot of great punk came from there. Coming up in our last set about San Francisco, we take things into another dimension. Ok, not really, but the tunes will start to get a little more psychedelic as they go by. We’ll end the show with the hippie anthem of the Summer of Love if you were packing up a van and heading West. Starting things off, though, is an early cut from the most talked about rock band around right now, Arctic Monkeys. First known as a garage rock outfit, the band’s latest effort Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino has turned people upside down on them. I think it sounds more like a long-lost Bowie album than anything; which is friggin’ awesome! From their debut album, here’s “Fake Tales Of San Francisco” from Arctic Monkeys.

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DJ: Its probably a good thing that Scott McKenzie didn’t get specific with the type of flower required atop ones helm to enter the City By The Bay or we may have had people plucking flowers from peoples’ gardens. Scott’s one and only hit, a mega one at that comes from his debut LP The Voice Of Scott McKenzie and was actually written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas to promote the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. Right place, right time, eh Scott?

Another ode to the journey to the Bay came from much further East. The Flower Pot Men were from England but were more of a creation of Deram Records to support a tour than anything else. The song was written by songwriters John Carter and Ken Lewis but they weren’t interested in touring or forming a group to support it. They chose some studio musicians to create a group known as The Flower Pot Men. “Let’s All Go To San Francisco” was the UK’s Scott McKenzie-esque one-hit wonder hit of the Summer of Love.

Hot Flash Heat Wave are San Francisco’s indie darlings of the moment. Having just released Soaked in 2017, the band is taking their first national tour summer 2018 throughout the US. Unfortunately, they aren’t hitting Minnesota. Next time, guys. HFHW released their debut album Neopolitan in 2015.

Foxygen broke onto the scene when Jagjaguwar released their sophomore LP We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. The band released Hang in 2017 led by the single “Follow The Leader” and the album was allegedly the first to be recorded by the band in an actual studio. We heard “San Francisco” from that groundbreaking sophomore album.

Closing us out is a fantastic cover of “California Dreamin'” by Baby Huey and The Baby Sitters. Please do yourself a favor and get this album! The few great covers and the song “Hard Times” are worth it alone.

That wraps us up this week everyone! We hope you enjoyed our California vibes for this beautiful summer day! Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!

Check out ourDiscogs_logo.svgList for all of the releases featured!

Goldfinger debut summery new song “Tijuana Sunrise”—listen

Los Angeles-based ska punks Goldfinger have debuted their new song “Tijuana Sunrise,” taken from their forthcoming album The Knife . Give it a listen below! Read more: Goldfinger announce first new album in nine years, ‘The Knife’—listen to the first single The second single from the album is all about growing up in San Diego and the experiences he had there, Feldmann explains. “‘Tijuana Sunrise’ is a song about my youth… growing up in San Diego,” Feldmann says. “I survived those days in Mexico by seconds and inches… one of my roommates was kidnapped by a man named El Diablo, and I wrote this song about my experiences back then.” The Knife will be released on July 21 through Rise Records.

Source: Goldfinger debut summery new song “Tijuana Sunrise”—listen