Recently I have discovered a stellar group hailing from Chicago, IL by the name of Rival Empire. Creating a synth-pop meets indie rock meets electro dance sound all of their own, the group takes a page from such bands as Cut Copy, The Killers and Friendly Fires, with a dab of Duran Duran to boot. Rival Empire have recently released their video for “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo” which had me immediately hooked and ready to dive into the recent self-titled full length.
On Rival Empire, the record features 13 electrifying tracks that subtly blend genres, to create a dance party on its own terms. The record opener “Cameo Crush,” stopped me dead in my tracks. The vibrancy of guitars and synths that blend are surrounded by singer Steve Rivera’s smooth and prominent vocals. Songs like “Casio Crush,” which bursts with modern sounds and 80’s nostalgia respectively, helps set the tone for the record.
An immediate stand out song and favorite proves to be “Calling Me,” which takes the record to a whole new level. The dreamy vocal combinations with slight harmonies are heavenly and is laced with melodic hooks. Songs like “Good Love,” “Tidal Wave,” and “Open Fire,” add a deeper, darker element to the album, while “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo,” and “High Fashion,” take you on wild musical journey. “Call the Adapter,” and “Paybacks a B___h” adds a funkier element into the album, making a nice transition in to blending genres. Something that Rival Empire does flawlessly. “Calling Me (Orchestral Remix)” closes out the record, making Rival Empire, an album to remember for 2014.
Grab the album on BANDCAMP
Check out the video for “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo” HERE.
This Milwaukee duo’s debut album is not something to miss. This album explores a wide breadth of genres sonically. It ranges from 70’s and 80’s oriented dance to progressive synth lines and electronic funk. Wavering vocals, punchy bass lines and crisp synth lines pervade this album, linking it. While at times reminiscent of Phoenix, Daft Punk, and MGMT, the unique combination of crowd-friendly, catchy songs and those that are more introspective and nostalgic creates an album unlike any other.
The album opens with an upbeat, feel-good song, “Up All Night,” which rivets the listener with catchy melodies and synth lines. This dance-floor mentality is scattered throughout the album; tracks like “The Body Electric” and “What I Want” are riddled with guitar riffs, bass lines and vocals that stick. “This Moment” is a testament to the marriage of an 70’s or 80’s like riff with punchy electronic moments and a healthy dose of synth action, at the same time, snippets of French horn mingle with the other sounds in the track. “Running Through the Wild” opens with a cool symphony of electronic musings and melodies before taking off with lyrics like “running through the wilderness hunting for love.” This track is easy and fun to listen to, while at the same time it pushes the listener. It would seem they’ve struck the balance between the two perfectly. The seventh track, “What I Want,” is arguably the centerpiece of this album. This seven minute long track is anthemic and not unlike a rollercoaster. With fun and attractive synths and a wavering bass line, this song does not fail to please. With lines like “We can tell it’s not enough, just bring it back to what I want” and the tin of a melody in the higher register, this track provokes more than just the urge to dance.
As this album moves towards its second half, tracks like “The Cantor Meets the Alien,” “Mawson’s Peak,” and “Antarctica/ The Decision” show off the album’s more introspective side. These songs highlight the innovation between the two brothers, who seem fond of pushing the boundary between catchy and pensive. At the same time, “Broken Heart” is an electronic continuation of the same emotional tone of “Last Summer,” whose sentimental and mellow vocals ruminate on events past. “Broken Heart” merges the upbeat qualities of earlier tracks like “Up All Night” with lyrics a touch more introspective: “I’m so sick of it but I can’t help myself . . . and it breaks my heart.”
French Horn Rebellion has done a great thing with their debut album; their unique sound is both progressive and nostalgic, moreover, it’s superb. While at times it can seem a bit saccharine, usually it’s just plain cool. French Horn Rebellion has successfully married 70’s and 80’s-esque chord progressions and brass instruments with electronic funk. Through this, the pair of brothers has managed to create a sound and style completely their own.
Miniature Tigers’ Rick Schaier is more than just the man behind the drums of one of the greatest new indie bands out there. Schaier is also paving his way as Alvin Band, his solo project of avant garde proportions. Just releasing the first video for ‘Temple Pressure’ a catchy song that will have you up and dancing to say the least, Schaier really brings out his witty personality. Alvin Band’s ‘Mantis Preying’ will be out this year via Intelligent Noise Records. This will be a must have for 2009, trust us.
Watch Alvin Band’s ‘Temple Pressure’ HERE
Check out Alvin Band on MYSPACE
I think the title says it all. Calvin Harris recently remixed Passion Pit’s ‘The Reeling’ and the only reaction that can explain this is ‘WOW’. Combining two of the current hottest musical forces Harris manages to give a whole new life to this Passion Pit song….just when you didn’t think one of their songs could possibly get any better. Giving the song a little softer tone and a brilliant into bassline I can only imagine what would happen if these guys made a record together.
Passion Pit is currently on tour so don’t forget to check them out in your city! Tour dates can be found at their Myspace.
Download Calvin Harris’ remix of Passion Pit’s ‘The Reeling’ HERE
Datarock is one of the most bizarre acts out there. Dance poses and red suits are the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing their name. Immediatly following that comes the thought of how great of a band they are. Different, yes. Brilliant, totally. Datarock is due to release ‘Red’ on 4/14 and have just released the video for the first single, ‘Give it Up’. The video involves nothing more than a crazy dance off, for once making dance competitions seem cool.
Watch Datarock’s ‘Give it Up’