When you listen to the moody, soft-rock songs that singer-songwriter Stephen Mercer performs with his band, the aptly named Mercer, a musical decade comes to mind - the 70's. Tunes such as the anthem-like 'Cynthia' or the atmospheric 'One More Time,' both included in 'Girl,' the band's independently released debut album, are so reminiscent of '70's artists such as Rod Stewart and Peter Frampton that it's hard to believe they were written and recorded in the last couple of years. Mercer's music, however, is more than just an exercise in nostalgia. The 12 songs in 'Girl' offer a welcome relief from the current trends in rock and hip-hop, which favor a relentless sonic assault that can grow tiresome. 'The heavy bands are great at what they do, but nothing stays the same forever,' Mercer said recently. 'Eventually, people become tired of anarchy. Soon enough, soothing harmonies will become popular again.' But do not expect the Woodland Hills-based band to play only pop-tinged fare. 'The man who produced 'Girl' was really into folk music,' Mercer said. 'So he focused on one aspect of the band and chose all of the lighter tunes that we had. Live, though, we are harder and darker.' Mercer has been making music since he was 15. He was born in England and moved to Manhattan Beach when he was 8. Before forming Mercer, the guitarist played with a dizzying number of bands, quickly becoming a veteran of the Sunset Strip club circuit. When one of the groups was slow to accept an enticing offer from a major record label, Mercer realized it was time to take control of his career and form his own band.
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