Postcards from the Pit: Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s / Empires / Kate Myers, Bowery Ballroom, 5/3/14

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Kate Myers: beautiful voice; flashes of songwriting brilliance; not a terrible way to spend half an hour. Empires: The scrappy little band of my heart (Midwest division) has at long last come out of hibernation – their new record, Orphan, is due June 17 – and I’m pleased to report their garage rock grit is intact, but they’ve added some grown-up polish and flair. Their set was 100% new tunes – bold move! – so I was briefly concerned I had missed a record, somewhere along the line, but ultimately I didn’t really care because all of the songs were awesome. My final assessment: they are the aural equivalent of sex hair. They’re back in New York on June 18 at the Mercury Lounge, and, special notice to Columbus, Ohio: They’re playing the Afterparty of the Fashion Meets Music Festival in your town, August 29-31, 2014. Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: They drift more towards the Eagles country-rock end of the spectrum; I gave them three songs, as I do for anyone, and when I decided I wasn’t feeling it I got off the rail so people who did love them could get closer.

Video: Empires, How Good Does It Feel

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Empires, scrappy little band of my heart (Chicago division), is getting ready to release a new record, to be called Orphan. As a preview, they’ve put out the video below, for How Good Does It Feel. The edges are a little less jagged than they usually are, but the propulsive energy is still there and Sean van Vleet’s voice is still the perfect seductive blend of silk and whiskey.     In other Empires news, they will be headed out on tour of the Midwest starting in February:   For further updates: see their Facebook and/or Twitter pages!

Empires: Live in Chicago

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Empires, scrappy little band of my heart (North American division) have made a live album. Recorded last September at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, it showcases Empires in all of their grimy, bluesy glory. Check it out:   Surrenderer (Live) by empires   Hello Lover (Live) by empires   We Lost Magic (Live) by empires   DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THE NTSIB READER SURVEY!

Empires: Garage Hymns

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I’ve been writing about a lot of dreamy electronic music and chill folk rock lately, but now I’m ready to push the pendulum the other way. Luckily, I have some Empires – scrappy little band of my heart, North American division – to listen to. Garage Hymns is their latest record, out earlier this year, and it is just what I need to clear out the cobwebs. Some sample tunes, with annotations:   Can’t Steal Your Heart Away: A perfect evocation of a particular kind of party, specifically, the kind that ends with people playing Bad Decision Bingo. And so wryly observed that it fills me with longing for nights that end with fries drenched in cheddar cheese and mornings that start with strong tea.   Can’t Steal Your Heart Away by Empires   Night Is Young: This one will always evoke the lights of Times Square blinking while I study for the bar, for me, but there’s other things in there, too. Like, I live here in this rambling, sometimes beautiful sometimes disgusting 19th century city because every day is anything can happen day. Maybe I’ll pass the bar on the second try. Maybe someday I’ll get to spend … Continue reading

Tour Alert: Colour Revolt / Empires

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Empires, of Chicago (and yes, still the Scrappy Little Band of My Heart) are teaming up with Colour Revolt, of Oxford, Mississippi and visiting some cities  this fall. I can’t get to their Brooklyn show – law school is once again interfering with my rock and roll lifestyle – but I encourage all y’all to go and check them out. As enticement, I give you some video. First up, there’s Empires, with Spit The Dark, from Howl, the first song they wrote as a band: http://vimeo.com/7093690   And then Colour Revolt, with Eight Years, from their new record The Cradle. It’s the story of eight years playing together – the highs, the lows, the sublime, and the totally, grossly ridiculous:

Postcards from the Pit: Empires / The Constant / Follower, 6/17/2011

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Empires, still the scrappy little band of my heart, won’t be on the cover of Rolling Stone this year. They are, however, on tour right now and may very well be coming to a tiny club near you sometime soon. And if you can make it out to see them, you should. I had the pleasure of catching up with them and also some promising local bands last Friday night. The first opener was Follower, who are so new that this show was actually their second show ever. If the two songs I was able to hear were a reasonable representative sample, they play like a much more experienced band – tight, focused and powerful. Here is one of the three decent pictures I managed to take of them: Follower   Next was The Constant, who are poppier than Follower and Empires, but yet are still definitely rock and roll, and also significantly grittier live than they are online: The Constant   And then it was time for Empires. They started with The Night is Young, a song created during the whole Rolling Stone contest, and then powered through a set that included another song written for the RS contest … Continue reading

Video Grab Bag: Panic! at the Disco, Christina Perri, Industries of the Blind and Empires

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This video for Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind), Panic! at the Disco‘s second single off of their new record Vices & Virtues, just came out yesterday, and, you guys, I really just love it so much. Not only is it a great song (turn it up!), but the video is beautifully shot and lit AND there is fabulous choreography. There are also fun costumes, because the whole thing is a visual tribute to musicals, including Grease, Mary Poppins and Singin’ in the Rain. Oh and also SOMEONE GETS SHOT OUT OF A CANNON. It is just delicious.     Continuing with the movie theme, this is the lyric video for Arms, from the upcoming lovestrong by Christina Perri, which features words “projected” onto old-fashioned movie screens. I’ve already confessed to typography nerdery; what I especially like about this one is the way the letters shuffle and jump and sometimes arrive as snarled little knots that then expand into words and phrases.     Next up is music that sounds like it should be in movies, from Industries of the Blind. This video is a teaser trailer for their upcoming record Chapter 1, and so doesn’t contain a full … Continue reading

Update On: Empires

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Empires, still the scrappy little band of my heart, has progressed to ROUND TWO of the Rolling Stone cover contest. That means it’s time to vote them into round three, which you can do here. Voting on this round lasts until APRIL 14. They’ve also uploaded two new songs created special for the contest, Night is Young and Hard Times, which you can also listen to at that link. Meanwhile, here they are talking about how they became a band, “home video” style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sGkX2NkHu8

Bits: Patrick Sweany, Infantree, Shivering Timbers, Bill Withers, Empires

Patrick Sweany was featured on Cleveland public radio program Around Noon this past Thursday. A lovely interview with a couple of wonderful live songs. Listen here. Infantree will be re-releasing their album Would Work in a re-mastered version at the end of April. Akron’s Shivering Timbers are venturing out beyond Ohio and will be playing Nashville, Tennessee – February 25 at the Basement and February 27 at the 5 Spot. Their album, We All Started in the Same Place, is now available on iTunes. Still Bill, a documentary about the amazing Bill Withers is now airing on Showtime. And, from Jennifer: Empires, scrappy little band of my heart, has a shot at being the first unsigned band to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. They are from Chicago, and when I last discussed them on NTSIB , I described them as a “punch drunk love affair” and that description is still true. Their sound is big and raw and sexy and, basically, rock and roll at its finest. Please, NTSIBbers, go and vote for them here at Rolling Stone, and then feel free to pass the link around. This is a video for “Hello Lover”, their latest single: