Empress Hotel - "Heavy Halo" CD Review (Park the Van Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Empress Hotel - "Heavy Halo" CD Review (Park the Van Records)

Empress Hotel - 'Heavy Halo' CD Review (Park the Van Records)
For their first full-length disc, New Orleans indie-dance ensemble Empress Hotel cite their influences as "late night listens to the likes of Prince, ELO, and Roxy Music". While I can't hear any of these aforementioned bands in Empress Hotel's music, the band has also cited Sparks and one-hit wonders from the 70's (Ace and The Dwight Twilley Band) as an influence and that seems a bit more on point. Paste Magazine called the band's music "infectious pop" and included them last year in their list of "20 SXSW Bands You May Not Know (but should)".

Empress Hotel predominately plays synth-heavy electro-pop, but this new disc bounces all over the map - from indie-dance to freak-folk to 70's bubblegum and suburban funk. The off-kilter nature of the disc keeps the disc engaging - never allowing it to sink beneath the weight of any one song structure or genre. The dance rhythms keep both head and feet moving and it may take more than a few spins of the disc before the listener realizes that they have no idea what Micah McKee's stream of consciousness lyrics are about.

The disc kicks off with "Mach Bach" (video below), which is one of the more off-kilter songs with its freak-folk vocals and carnival keys. From there, the band completely switches gears with the indie-rock tune "Heavy Halo" and follows this with the 70's bubblegum of "Empress Hotel". The band hits its stride in the middle of the disc with bright, melodic hooks and layered textures which makes tracks like "Baby Octopus", "Holly" and "Last Picture Show" some of the strongest on the disc.

"Empress Hotel at it's core is an assembly of musicians from both New Orleans and afar. Spearheading this New Orleans pop ensemble are brothers Ryan and Eric Rogers on guitar and drums, backed by Haché Horchatta from Portland, Maine on bass, and fronted by the ever so amorous Micah McKee on lead vocals and guitar. Empress Hotel brings a personal, human story to their interpretation of pop songs. It's implemented through stream of consciousness lyrics, dynamic vocal melodies and rhythmic harmonies from individuals who love the glory days and still go see new bands play live more than most. They lust for a music that is inclusive, crowd pleasing and honest. Empress Hotel asks for you to sing along, and dance within it. It wants your company."

Empress Hotel