Up The Empire - Light Rides the Super Major
Label: The Cougar Label
A New York foursome who released their debut record on The Cougar Label, and are making a name for themselves in the rock world by being the epitome of DIY rock culture. The members of the band (Doug Keith, Chris Renn, Dan Hewins, and Ben Lord) did most of the production on their debut, as well as managing and booking their tours in support of the album.
How Is It?:
Up the Empire know their references. Light Rides the Super Major heavily takes music tips from Queens of the Stone Age, combining their brand of DIY rock with the pumping guitar strums, high arcing leads and turning basslines of some of their higher-up rock peers. Two of the references they do miss, however, are the Foo Fighters and Explosions in the Sky. And while Up the Empire is nowhere close to the talent of Explosions, or the raw power of Grohl and co., the guitar and bass work on this record is major label worthy. The end of one of the all-star tracks, "Careful what you say" features distorted guitars and heavy basses that revoke a definite feeling from Explosions' new album. "Not Working" is a swirling mass of guitars that recalls Foo Fighters' "Best of You" choruses. The rest falls somewhere in between the aformentioned references, with varying amounts of success.
A couple major flaws with the band are their vocals, which leave much to be desired and don't do anything to highlight Up the Empire's lyricism, which you really have to listen to intently to grasp. But the focus really isn't on the vocals, but the guitars and the like instruments. However, the guitars, and especially the drums, loose some of their intensity because of the production. The band must be commended for the production, however, because they did much of it live in the studio, ala Gatsbys American Dream. However, were their sound to be fleshed out by a big rock producer and slightly bigger budget, Up the Empire could be a worthy 2nd level Queens of the Stone Age.
RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Explosions in the Sky, Big Rock that doesn't sound Big (yet).