Empress Hotel to Release Debut EP


Right now is a really exciting time for pop and rock music in New Orleans and Empress Hotel is a prime example. The group comprised of six young yet seasoned musicians is an offshoot from other bands that came before it, fellow forgers of an indie movement in the Jazz capital of the world.

Brothers Ryan and Eric Rogers on guitar and drums as well as Leo DeJesus on precussion/synth/vocals come from popular bands on the younger generation’s radar in New Orleans, like Antenna Inn and The City Life among others, and lead singer/guitarist Micah McKee founded local favorite Silent Cinema in 2002 which can be held responsible for other spinoff bands from its members, like Big History – a sexy new electronic emphasized band. The main point being, anything coming from this group of guys (and girls: Julie Williams plays keys and sings for Empress Hotel) which also includes Portland transplant Patrick Hodgkins on bass is going to be good.

“Bells Ring” is their recently released single to be included on the self-titled debut EP slated to drop in March on Park the Van Records. Whether it’s the shrill Cassio keys, the doo-woppy back up vocals or the lyrical imagery of not letting it (life?) pass by, the track instills a sense of nostalgia and envy all for an older era, childhood and even pastimes never experienced.  

The drawn out, robust lead vocals that harkens The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, the steady, momentous drums and the bells that ring through the chorus also give the song a triumphant slant.

And don’t overlook “Here Comes the New Challenger” which can be found on the band’s Myspace page. The song is utterly cool with a Who-esque synth intro, inebriating lyrics and McKee and Williams’ vocal harmonies that are beyond charming.    

Empress Hotel On Tour:
Dec 18 – Park the Van Holiday Soirée at HiHo Lounge – New Orleans, LA
Dec 31 – OpenHouse Music Presents: NYE, The Throwdown (Studio 3 Warehouse) – New Orleans, LA
Jan 21 – The BottleTree – Birmingham, AL
Jan 27 – Lola’s Saloon –  Fort Worth, TX
Jan 28 – Ghost Room – Austin, TX
Jan 29 – Artmosphere – Lafayette, LA
Feb 19 – Blue Nile (Krewe du Vieux) w/ Big History and Booty Trove – New Orleans, LA
Feb 22 – 5 Spot – Nashville, TN
Feb 23 – Tea Bazaar – Charlottesville, VA
Feb 25 – Rock Shop – Brooklyn, NY
Mar 2 – Iota Club and Cafe – Arlington, VA (DC Area)
Mar 5 – Alabama Music Box – Mobile, AL
Mar – SXSW 2011 – Austin, TX

Andy D To Release Sophomore LP and Announces Tour Dates

Electro rocker Andy D has announced that his sophomore LP Songs in the Key of Magic will be released on March 15th on Roaring Colonel Records.  Even more exciting, Andy D has also announced a few tour dates where you can see for yourself a show full of “rap, rock and comedy!”  Tour dates are as follows (and unfortunately, no NY tour date as of yet):

1/13 – Indianapolis, IN – Locals Only (Free show)
2/5 – Champaigne-Urbana, IL – Mike & Molly’s*
2/16 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop*
2/17 – Indianapolis, IN – The Melody Inn*
2/18 – Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlie’s**
2/19 – Evansville, IN – The Duck Inn*
3/16 – 3/20 – Austin, TX – SXSW
4/5 – Indianapolis, IN – Birdys***
 
*with Hey Penny
**with Hey Penny & Big Fresh
***with Electric Six

Album Review: Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP

On the True Panther Sounds record label website, a love letter written by label member Christopher Owens is published. Owens and Chet “JR” White are the two California boys who make up Girls. The letter’s subject is you and me: the fans. His confession that without us, their fantastic new EP, Broken Dreams Club wouldn’t exist is oozing with sincerity and endearment to a surprising and delightful degree, for I fear we are the ones who should be thanking them.

It starts out with “Thee Oh So Protective One,” an almost loungey, luxurious cruise ship dance tune. It has the kind of sound meant to be played on or by water, begging for a steel drum to make a cameo, but Girls know better than to ham it up that far. In all seriousness, it’s a well dichotomized song with an easy, rich and full sound with brilliant, almost majestic trumpet incorporation but then sad and unfortunate lyrics: “He’ll never know about the times that you cried in the movies, never know about the times that you cried to the music” and insecure reflections: “I wonder if he’s impressed/Should I have worn the other dress?” This first track is also a great introduction to Owen’s classic vocal style, conjuring that of Burt Bacharach.

White’s bass skills really shine through on “Heartbreaker.” The bass drives the song and adds an extra level of cool to this already radical song. It’s full of charm from the groovy, playful vocals, expert bass, innocent and earnest piano, 80s electric guitar riffs to the light, twinkly tambourine. This well polished song exhibits professional production and a band who means serious business, as far as quality is concerned.

There’s a significant country influence on the title track and on fittingly titled “Carolina,” the former with a somber blues tone actually quite in line with Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. The muffled, raunchy horns add a nice ragtime jazz touch. “Carolina” is much more experimental but still carries the twangy, drawling, country guitar featured on “Broken Dreams Club.” “Carolina” is a delicious pop dish with booming lines delivered a capella, an oldies “do run run run do do run run” refrain in the background and trippy electronic effects.

“Substance,” if you couldn’t guess from the title, is about drugs: “If you want to shape your brain, I know a substance…that helps you rock and roll.” Ironically enough, it seems to be an anti-drug anthem mocking drug users and their absurd habits, and based on their West Coast, partially ex-hippie cult background (Owens hails from the Children of God cult – or movement – spawned during the 60s California drug phase), are probably mocking themselves: “You can do anything yeah, you can rock and roll outta control/Who wants something real when you could have nothing/Why not just give up, who wants to try.”

This record is buoyant, a little kitschy, and varying in styles. If you’re not already one of the addressees of Owens’ letter, listen o this EP immediately and find out what you’ll soon to be gushing over.

The Cordelier Club Reveals Debut Song on December 6th

The Cordelier Club’s December slated single, “Don’t Let It Go By” from the London based ensemble is fused with bouncy guitar, dance-synth keyboards and percussion that you can clap your hands to. The music has a similar effect as many of their contemporaries today but with a style almost evoking disco and vocals influenced by 70’s rock singers, merging that current sound with an older generation’s. The Cordelier Club has created a refreshing new take on what’s popular right now.

The brother-sister vocal effort from the core of the band – Richard and Alice Smith – comes through with charming harmonies and an echo throughout the chorus from Richard after Alice implores “is any body out tonight?” Alice’s vocals are more prominent and powerful and are the melody to Richard’s cool rhythm.

It’s a great dance song and a perfect debut for a band on the verge of breaking out. If they don’t manage to blow up the scene, well then it’s one perfectly pleasant song to be proud of. The latter seems to be less likely especially with the help of the likes of Mike McCarthy, the man responsible for the production of Spoon and …Trail of Dead.

Look for “Don’t Let It Go By” on December 6th.

Concert Photos of CMJ 2010

For a New Yorker such as myself who is deeply into modern music and the direction its headed, there simply is no time greater in the year then CMJ. Last year was my first taste of the five day long Music/Film festival and despite photographing musicians for a full year prior to the festival, never have I experienced such respect, access, and simple gratefulness from musicians for coming out and seeing them perform. What also made this an exciting time was interacting with fellow music fans from all over the world! 2010’s CMJ has ended and though it is sad to imagine such an amazing event being over I was lucky to capture some amazing moments during the concerts of the festival.

For me the festival started on Tuesday (the 19th) where I headed to Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not only did I get to photograph a Kevin Devine headlining gig (who in my opinion is one of the most talented musicians you can find) but since it was CMJ the support list was varied and filled with musicians I’ve never heard of. This gave me the privilege to photograph artists such as:

Oh Land. A Danish electro/pop duo.

Death On Two Wheels. A Georgian hard rock outfit which wears confidence on their sleeves.

River City Extension. An orchestral indie band who make sure their listeners are fully engulfed into their tunes.

Miniature Tigers. Festival favorites who stressed the importance of singing along to their songs.

and of course our hometown favorite, Kevin Devine.

The following day featured me and my girlfriend venturing to Madison Square Garden for a highly anticipated show. Indie heroes Phoenix were to grace the stage to celebrate their widely received album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. To everyones surprise old friends of theirs took the stage with them to everyones delight.

WAVVES kept everyones attention afloat with their infectious garage energy.

Dirty Projectors kept the momentum up with an Arcade Fire esque stage presence.

Phoenix and Daft Punk took the entire arena by surprise!

The excitement of CMJ just ran more rampant within me as a band I have been in love with all year finally made their way to the city. Two Door Cinema Club is the most recent export from Northern Ireland, a country which is considered a personal mecca to me in terms of music. Their Webster Hall gig totally sold out quickly and impressed everyone who attended, and I dare say even amaze also.

Grouplove redefined the word enthusiasm as they played through their set. Its always great to see a band thats truly thankful to be there.

Penguin Prison smoothed the crowd with their jazz toned vocals. Dancing was a must as this band made the stage their own.

"Holy shit New York! I can feel the fucking ground shaking from here from all your dancing!" shouted Alex Trimble as the band went into their hit single "Undercover Martyn"

The exhaustion of CMJ was beginning to seep in as I headed to my final gig of the festival. It also felt fitting having it take place in Music Hall of Williamsburg again. What kept me excited was seeing British newcomers Everything Everything. Their debut album Man Alive is certainly one of the most addictive releases of 2010 so far and highly recommended.

Porcelain Raft

Dominant Legs

Mr.Johnny Flynn definitely wins the award for making the most women swoon during CMJ. His honest and well constructed songs are also a firm plus.

Chapel Club aimed to pave the way for British indie bands in New York and surprisingly enough I'd say they were successful in stirring interest.

I clearly wasn't the only concert goer who was tired from the weeks activities, but the energy and stage presence of Everything Everything made us all forget for 30 minutes how tired we were.

Blood Red Shoes filled the room with smoke and ended the night with an explosive set that no one saw coming (or at least being as wicked as it was!)

And that is my recount of CMJ 2010. This has been my second year of taking part of the festival and it truly is a privilege not only to see these acts perform but to interact with these musicians and help spread the word about them. For more photos be sure to go here to enjoy a full gallery of each show I covered.

Wavves Crash in Las Vegas


On Sunday, October 17th, moments after the world’s best skate and BMX athletes are presented with the coveted Dew Cup Award, Wavves will perform on the skate park stage inside The Joint by Rogue at the legendary Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The Dew Cup Award Show begins at 9pm, with the live performance immediately following at 10pm. Tickets are now available via Ticket Master, starting at just $15.

And, if you don’t live in the greater Las Vegas area, don’t fret. Wavves is currently on tour and may be playing a city near you soon. Peep the dates below to find out.

Tour Dates

10/17 Las Vegas, NV The Joint / Hard Rock
10/18 Boston, MA Agganis Arena !
10/20 New York, NY Madison Square Garden $
10/21 Montreal, QC CEPSUM !
10/22 Toronto, ON Ricoh Coliseum !
10/23 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theatre !
10/25 Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues !
10/26 Orlando, FL House of Blues !
10/27 Miami, FL The Fillmore !
11/06 Austin, TX Fun Fun Fun Fest

$ = w/ Phoenix, Dirty Projectors
! = w/ Phoenix
* = w/ Christmas Island
# = w/ Jacuzzi Boys
% = w/ Tennis