2019 gave us much in the way of music to celebrate in Northeast Florida; a glorious and eclectic mix of output, to be sure. Here are a couple tunes we really dug in ’19.

Mercy Mercy
“The Usual (Baby)” 
As youth culture began to reverberate across the world in the early-to-mid 1960s, rock n’ roll infiltrated the suburbs and tens of thousands of youngsters picked up electric guitars, headed into their parent’s garages or basements, and began hammering out three-chord, rudimentary ditties, aping to the best of their abilities the styles of the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Sonics, and other popular acts of the day.

During each subsequent decade, collections of those crude, makeshift, often single microphone recordings began to permeate the underground music cultures of cities from Hamburg, Germany to Detroit, Michigan, perennially inspiring revivalists from The Cramps in the ‘70s to The Gories in the late ‘80s, to today’s slate of raucous garage acolytes like Ty Segall and the Allah-las. It seems every time a generation tries to bury rock n’ roll, a new crop of musicians are bound to dig it up.

Locally, you can add revelrous rock n’ roll trio Mercy Mercy is one of the genre’s best acolytes. Comprised of Dennie Carter (drums/vox), Jon Dailey (bass/vox), and Nishant Ghose (guitar/vox), Mercy Mercy’s primitive, fuzzed-out sound and intentionally superficial lyrics—best exemplified on the track “The Usual (Baby)”—would fit in perfectly on among the authentically ‘60s tracks of noted garage rock compilations, like Back from the Grave. Wailing guitars, howling vocals, and a recording quality that’d be best described as perfectly sh**ty, sonically “The Usual (Baby)” is a throwback, but in these tumultuous times, the tune is an apt, relevant outlet for cathartic release. —Matthew Shaw

The Noctambulant
“Unholy Benediction”
The long-overdue follow-up to their 2016 debut Advocatus Diaboli this year’s The Cold and Formless Deep found The Noctambulant spearhead-leader Philip Newton and crew raising the ante on Southeastern US black metal. Unlike the binary evil/vile blur of pioneering black metal bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone, The Noctambulant are in the lineage of groups like Dissection or Emperor; injecting harmonic and rhythmic turns, ambient passages, and even (gasp!) keyboards into what could have been considered by many to be a fairly opaque genre; however obsidian and invitingly dire that palette might be. 

A standout track from The Cold and Formless Deep is surely “Unholy Benediction,” a 2:22-minute cut that gives a loud glimpse into the workings of The Noctambulant and arguably the melodic black metal scene overall. Starting out with a military-grade four-count on the snare, the sound of “Unholy Benediction” escapes from the speakers, a kind of Mongol horde of guitar, bass, and drums, seemingly barreling amok, led by Newton’s death-growl vocals, all at war with one another until targeting their shared enemy: lucky you, the listener! 

The Noctambulant unleashes powerful stuff. The band has found tremendous success in Europe and abroad and rightfully so. Perhaps most crucially, the Noctambulant are both an ideal entry point for newcomers to the scene while also having a sense of innovation and history that appeals to metal old-timers; no minor dark miracle in its own right.—Daniel A. Brown

Other tracks we loved in ’19:
Trella – “Happy to Be Here”
LPT – “Aquella Mujer” (Live from Void HQ)
The Black Toilet – “What What”
Hurricane Party – “Hurricane Party!!!”
The Young Step – “Ghost Town”
Cory Driscoll – “Vacation Artist”
rickoLus – “Over U”
Folk is People – “Ghost Birdie”
Odd Relics – “Matrimony”
LANNDS – “2093”
Sea Cycles – “Quota”

These entries originally appeared as part of our feature “The Music We Needed: 19 Songs we loved in 2019” in Void Magazine, Vol. 10, Issue 6.