Tell Your Lovers: Empires third album, Orphan, not as sad as it sounds

29 Aug

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but what about when you are creating something completely unique? Sometimes comparison devalues a band or song, making it seem like anyone could achieve that sound, because it’s been done before. Other times it highlights how well an artist was able to break through generic barriers. Most of the time though, it completely depends on context. Empires newest LP, Orphan, manages to impress with a well-developed sound that I could compare to countless bands, without losing a sense of originality.

The first thing that grabs my attention upon hearing the first track, “Silverfire,” is that gravelly voice which reminded me of The National’s Matt Berninger. Sean van Vleet, lead singer of Empires and also the owner of said gravelly voice, tends to keep it steady throughout the record, neither straining to hit a falsetto nor attempting to go to the depth of Matthew Dear. That said, the album has many emotional high and low points. Some songs are short and upbeat, like the title track “Orphan,” whereas others are long and melancholy, such as in “Lifers,” one of my favorites. It’s got a soft melody and cooing guitars, evocative of The Shins- even van Vleet’s voice begins to sound like James Mercer.

 

The most fun on the record is toward the end with “Please Don’t Tell My Lover.” The lyrics are sly and entertaining and the guitar riff is too catchy to not hum along with.  Another great track is “Shadowfaux,” which has a very easily digested structure, false ending and all, making it very natural to move your feet. The only complaint that I have overall is its length, clocking in at just under forty minutes. A solid album with the driving drums and guitars that Empires offers should be longer; expand on those guitar solos, give me two final choruses, something. I suppose the worst that can happen with a short album is that you feel the need to listen to it immediately again because you didn’t get your fill the first time around. And such is my experience with Orphan.

Orphan will be out on 9/23 via Chop Shop/Island Records. Visit their website for more information.

Check out their single, “Please Don’t Tell My Lover”:

A Welcome and a Note

27 Aug

Writer

 

Please help me introduce new Music Court writer Zoë Brown! Zoë will cover new bands and other music-related topics. Here is a brief biography. For those who have already seen the blog this morning, you will notice that Zoë has already released her first post, which you can view by scrolling down on the main page.

Zoë is a south Florida native, but relocated to LA to follow her passion: being employed. Her love for indie music blossomed when she became a teenager. She attended the University of Miami, where she found her true calling: WVUM 90.5fm the Voice, UM’s very own college radio station. Named “Best College Station in the Nation” by mtvU, WVUM became her second home. Zoë spent more hours sifting through new music than studying for exams, and eventually served as Music Director, then General Manager, of the station. Her other hobbies include bowling, checking out new underground films, and watching Arrested Development re-runs.

Bowling, obscure films, and Arrested Development. She will fit right in!

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

 

You may have noticed the dearth of posts this summer. I apologize for that. I am embarking on a new stage in my occupation journey, and I am excited to report that I will begin as a 10th grade English teacher in a few days. I spent most of this summer preparing for the school year, and once the school year hits I will continue to be swarmed. I cannot wait. I’m fulfilling a dream. That being said, I will make sure to keep the Music Court updated with new music and engaging content. Other writers like Zoë will be a HUGE help. So, in celebration of school returning, here is a little Beach Boys for your Wednesday.

Colony House releases Van Jam Session of hit song “Silhouettes”

27 Aug

Sometimes all it takes to have a hit song is a sing-along chorus. Everyone loves to sing along with all the woohoo’s in “Song 2,” those na’s in “Hey Jude” (for far too long), and the hey ya’s in, well, “Hey Ya,” and because we can’t get them out of our heads, they become hits, then classics. Looks like Colony House has taken notice with their newest van jamming rendition of their hit single “Silhouettes.”

 

 

The studio version of this song is like hearing tinny Young the Giant; the vocals are dripping with reverb and the cute, infatuated lyrics all come together to form a sunny indie pop tune. A great summer song, but seemingly forgettable. But in the van it all changes- they strip away the exact production, add a hiccuping drum machine and kick up that quivering falsetto on those killer whoo-oo’s. We are all driving down the road, down the road in that van with you, hooting like adorable owls.

I have to admit though, their focused expressions do make the van version a personal experience. I loved watching their excited faces, especially when they held eye contact to time the final refrain. Colony House ends up matching the adorable nature of their own song with their body language. “Silhouettes” is on their debut full-length release, When I Was Younger, which is out now. Visit their website for more information. 

Be Impressive with The Griswolds

22 Aug

The Griswolds

The Indie music world is abuzz with Griswold fever in anticipation of monday’s U.S. release of the four-piece Australian band’s debut album Be Impressive. The album, which was released today in Australia and New Zealand, has already received rave reviews from those who have had an opportunity to listen to the 11-track LP, and I can confirm that the jaunty, alternative/pop sounds of The Griswolds is not only infectious but also packs a major sing-along punch that finds a nice-sized one-bedroom apartment in that little sector of your brain where songs live.

The Griswolds, for those who have not heard of the band before, have been on the music radar since singer/guitarist Christopher Whitehall and lead guitarist Daniel Duque-Perez founded the band in 2012. Quickly, the band was picked up by several blogs on the heels of the band’s debut EP Heart of a Lion, which features four excellent tracks (one of which I am including below). The band  became Australia’s Triple J “Unearthed” feature artist, won a slot on the 2012 Parklife Festival lineup, and toured with Indie staples St Lucia, San Cisco, and Django Django. The Griswolds represent a strong “media” band, in that the band has garnered so much attention through online music pundits (myself included), and this is mainly because the band is so downright exciting.

In advance of monday’s U.S. release let’s take a listen to the song from the album that has been receiving the most airplay thus far, “Beware the Dog.”

The song starts with a cheerful solo riff followed immediately by the riff behind a felicitous rhythm fit with claps and creative percussion. The mid-verse harmony tease is concise and melodious. The chorus is classic Indie dance, a hint of dominican island mixed with fun pop harmonies. It’s the audio version of a good time, and it’s tough shaking the drive to get up and dance along. The track combines the pop synth of Vampire Weekend with the dance rhythms of Grouplove and Passion Pit, but, in a sense, The Griswolds are a bit edgier than these bands, and that is one reason why I like the tunes.

“Red Tuxedo” is my favorite track off the EP because it is so simple. The song, therefore, is different from most Griswolds tracks. The listener is greeted to a delicate guitar riff, dulcet vocal, and harmonies. It is an easy listen and I cannot shake the beauty in its structure. Great stuff.

 

Check out more from The Griswolds on the Website, Facebook, or Twitter

 

 

Vans Warped Tour 2014

23 Jul

I had the opportunity to photograph Warped Tour…it was great.

Real Friends

The Devil Wears Prada

The Story So Far

Issues

The Word Alive

Crown The Empire

A Skylit Drive

Enter Shikari

Secrets

The Color Morale

Motionless In White

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