Photo from the Seattle show, courtesy of Jake Gravbot
Posts tagged empires.
In the end, Empires’ decision to further satisfy their pop cravings was a good one. If Garage Hymns sounded like it might be on to something, then Orphan is the work of a band delivering on that promise. Their jones for big, powerful pop rock is on full display here. Opening with “Silverfire”, the band merge guitar crunch with playful hooks and melodies in ways they hadn’t even tried before. From there, Orphan just gets bigger and more addictive. The stomping, anthemic “Hostage”, the decidedly Killers-ish sound of “How Good Does It Feel”, and the groovy foray “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” takes into dance rock all speak of a band ready to dive into pop waters headfirst. At the same time, the band doesn’t totally flake on their roots. “Honeyblood” starts out lushly, but its live-wire finish proves the band can still open up and let their louder side come out and play when it wants to.
@jakegravbrot: Years and years ago, I cut hair for a ton of bands who were all up and coming in the Warped Tour scene. As time has gone on, many are finished touring and some are still doing quite well on the road. Those bands that broke up have spawned other bands and some members have taken up roles playing for other previously established artists. A former member of The Academy Is… now plays in a band named Empires. This guy is actually one of the first people who I really took a liking to for the actual art of photography. He used to sell his prints off of his own website and I always used to go and check out what he had shot while out on tour. As his band has picked up with consistent touring, he’s put the camera down to focus on guitar again, and for good reason. Empires has the kind of sound that feels nostalgic in a very genuine way, yet cutting edge enough that it’ll likely be dominating alternative rock radio very soon. They’ve got backing by Island/Def Jam, which could bode very well for them if this record takes off. Today, they came through Seattle and I had a chance to shoot portraits for them and grab some shots at their show. It’s always good to see old friends doing well and I fully expect to hear more from these guys in the coming years.
“Orphan” establishes an intimate, Nick Cave-like moodiness built of Sean Van Vleet’s voice and music whose darkness maintains hope while acquiring dirt on its collar… The record ends strongly with back-to-back winners “Glow” and “Journey Kid,” the latter showing how the album rises gradually and the former offering a great mix of Van Vleet flexing his vocal range and the guitars making simplicity soar. Once again, Empires’ persistence and appeal refuse to be denied.
Empires have it all and bring their hard work and passion onto the stage. They aren’t flying around the stage trying to bea “wild, crazy rock band” and they aren’t going through the motions trying to be “too-cool, unaffected stars” either. Their energy and passion is natural, professional, and a pleasure to watch.
Empires is a band that’s easy to root for. The Chicagoans built a local following off of 2008’s diverse “Howl,” released for free and showing that rock unpredictability can be a good thing even if it’s at the cost of a cohesive sound. In 2011, the group made the final four in Rolling Stone’s contest to put an unsigned band on the cover. Its time slot at Lolla 2012 was rescheduled due to the storm-caused evacuation, but taking the stage to a smaller crowd than they would have had otherwise, Empires played and connected like they were headlining a sold-out Soldier Field show.
Just announced: Empires will be opening for Alkaline Trio on Night one of their residency at the Metro!