Nicholas Merz
American Classic



Aagoo Records
Release Date
February 24, 2023


1. The Dixon Deal
2. Hate, Unbridled
3. Great Spiders
4. Balding Is Beautiful
5. Condor
6. Instant Legacy
7. American Classic
8. A Day In LA
9. Roger Felgs
10. Real Me
11. Two Comedians
12. Young Man, Short In Stature


American Classic is Merz’s third record, a culmination of two years of writing and the finale of a trilogy of albums and ideas that he shorthands as the Duvall Sound.

Born and raised in Duvall, Washington in the Snoqualmie Valley, Merz left his home state for Los Angeles a few weeks before shutdowns began in February 2020.

American Classic was mostly recorded and mixed in his home in South Central, LA, where he lived for the first year and a half of the pandemic. The album explores working class America as a vast, static, and humorous landscape that is blueprinted, carved, replicated, and held immobile by invisible gravities of oppression that are craftily sold as the American Dream. It’s a celebration of the people held and hidden within it who nonetheless gut it out and make America vibrant and real.

As an ode to his father, a former union tile-setter and pedal steel player from Los Angeles, Merz made pedal steel a prominent instrument on the record.

More than the last two records, which were heavy on feeling and tone, American Classic relies on lyrics and song-based comfort to anchor and give context to the subject matter, with the specific intent of critiquing and breaking down that idea through its live performances.

The music was composed remotely with friends from Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Colorado playing instruments on it.

Capitalist America takes and co-opts beauty and personality from the people it exploits without credit or fair pay. As musicians, we rely on love and support and inspiration from others. With gratitude and acknowledgement, here are some things Merz’s friends and mentors, who enabled the record, say about it:

Anarchy is unsustainable.
Sometimes Love isn’t real until it’s bleeding through your fingers as memories. Glitz, and the prozaic atomic.
Sewers in Eden, the EGOS of Saints.
So Long…
— Omar

Bud told Nicholas he hoped he choked on the melon he gave him from the back of his hot pickup truck and Nicholas wrote him a love song that he’ll never hear. I asked him once what he thought made America special, and I should have listened to this album first. The album is a celebration of working class people, but more specifically, I think, it tells us that the wrinkles we have from squinting to see bottomlessness as opportunity are what make us beautiful. It’s the kind of disarming that makes you a little pissed off at first, it calls your bluff, sees what we’ve all agreed to pretend not to see, but then you realize that the tall thin cowboy dancing a kind of awkward ballet really does like the gray hairs poking through and it feels like a huge relief. This album makes me wonder what things would be like if we only glorified the people who don’t have it all.
— Sarah

Get your filthy mind back into the gutter. It’s the only place where people are keeping it real anymore. Scrape the last of the honey from the bottom of the jar and hold it to the light. It’s the last sweet thing you’ll taste, so let it linger. The belly of the beast, the keys to the kingdom, an American classic.
— Nicholas

It feels like you’ve shared integral parts of your life, thoughts, and feelings with me. This is truly a beautiful eclectic composition of sounds and words from an incredible mind and lovely soul. You have a hauntingly comforting voice that draws people in and holds them. My life feels enhanced by this and I really enjoyed listening. Thank you so much, love ya Nick!
— Maxine

My friends are all so talented and it makes me sick. As I let the record wash over me, I was hit with wave after wave of nostalgic joy. I picture myself sitting in a diner with the remnants of a room-temperature breakfast – no plans for the foreseeable future and utterly content. Balding IS beautiful. Balding IS beautiful.
— Nick