TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Empires, Orphan

ROXANNE GALLO FOR TVD | On their third full length and major label debut, Orphan, the evolution of Empires‘ sound is apparent. On single “How Good Does It Feel,” vocalist Sean Van Vleet entones “It’s emerging, a new version of you.” And while they may not be talking about themselves as a band, it’s clear from the first song, “Silverfire” to the last, “Journey Kid,” a new version of Empires’ sound has emerged.

Formed in Chicago in 2007 by friends Sean Van Vleet (vocals) and Tom Conrad (guitar), the duo spent a year writing songs together before the group achieved its current lineup with the addition of Max Steger (guitar), Mike Robinson (drums).

Though they’ve been recording and releasing music since 2008, they didn’t receive their first taste of mainstream attention until 2011 while competing in Rolling Stones’ “Choose Your Cover” contest and landing in the final four. Fast forward to this summer’s release of the “How Good Does It Feel” EP, their network television debut on Late Night with David Letterman, to their performances at Bonnaroo and Hangout Music Festival, the band has expanded their fan base exponentially. This growth will only continue as they prepare to play AV Fest and Austin City Limits, along with a slew of other festivals.

Prior to Orphan, Empires produced, engineered, and mixed all of their releases themselves. This is the first time they used an outside producer and they’ve chosen wisely with the ear of producer John Congleton who has worked with such diverse musicians as The Black Angels, David Byrne, and Explosions in the Sky to name a few. A smart career move for sure, there’s no doubt it’s what helped get them signed to major label, Chop Shop/Island.

The biggest difference between Orphan and past recordings is the shift in their sound from a purposeful, almost forced, sludgy rock ‘n’ roll to a more natural, melodic, indie-rock, let- it-go-where-it-goes exposure of themselves through their music. Van Vleet, the sole lyricist of the band, allows himself to get out of his head and the result couldn’t have been better. He says about the songwriting process for Orphan: “It was really freeing just trying to put myself in somebody else’s shoes, another artist’s voice. I stopped over-thinking what I was trying to say and started saying it much more clearly.” This album is definitely evidence of that, a graduation of sorts, not just musically but emotionally.

At first listen, I was immediately struck by how much songs like “Silverfire” and “Shadowfaux” reminded me of Magical Clouds and The National, in a sharp contrast to the dancey-pop singles “How Good Does it Feel” and “Please Don’t Ever Tell My Lover” being reminiscent of The Killers, not just in the similarities of vocal stylings and sound but arrangement as well.

“How Good Does it Feel” poses a question that when applied to the context of how this album comes across, my answer right away is …really fucking good. “Please Don’t Ever Tell My Lover” instantly hooks you with a simple riff that with one hell of an earworm as a background. This is the stuff dance floors with friends are made for.

Van Vleet describes the song “Lifers” as being autobiographical for the band as it discusses the life of a touring act that hasn’t always been a main-stage concern but is in it for the long haul. Looks like sticking to it is turning out to be worth it.

Empires’ brand new full length Orphan doesn’t arrive in stores until September 23—but you can enter a win a copy on vinyl right now. Simply tell us in the comments below the catchy earworm that’s currently ringing through your head and the most hook laden entrant with a North American mailing address will find this Orphan waiting upon your doorstep. We’ll choose 1 winner a week from today, 9/12.

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  • An_Unread_Story

    At the moment it’s Please Don’t Tell My Lover. As soon is it came on on SoundCloud I was hooked and had to follow the group

  • crowbarmark

    San Fermin – Renaissance!

  • EvanBenner

    Smallpools – Killer Whales is no guilt, all pleasure.

  • marsacademy

    Colors – Paradise Fears (Sean, don’t kill me – I do have an Empires tattoo, after all)

  • LoganBailey

    Those drums in Hostage by Empires. So. Damn. Good.

    1220 Sherman Street Grand Rapids, MI 49506

  • ggryzik

    Angela Surf City – The Walkmen

  • sidrat

    Telling Ghosts – Puscifer

  • jacobsetser

    Andrew Belle – Dark Matter

  • elianasiegal

    Fine, Great by Modern Baseball

    Mailing address is:
    2741 N. Chase 
    Chicago, IL 60645

  • http://www.kiteandmoon.com/ Cassie

    “Memorabilia” by Mimicking Birds, UGH. So good.

  • KatieACW

    I get songs stuck in my head REALLY easily so just reading the name “Please don’t tell my lover” in the article got that stuck in my head.

  • http://cortneypark.com/ cpark

    Shadows – Ryan Adams. Can’t stop streaming the new album.

  • Zach

    To Binge by Gorillaz
    Extremely catchy from beginning to end.

  • thistimearound

    Driver Friendly – Till The World Ends (Bitney Spears Cover)

  • mkohler

    Royksopp & Robyn – Do It Again

  • kaityg

    Alvvays – Adult Diversion

  • MariaK

    Oukast’s Hey Ya…

  • nopenope

    Brill Bruisers – New Pornographers

  • nikkidebardlebon

    Choking- Flashlights

  • DannyZagorski

    Manchester Orchestra (Hope) – Top Notch

  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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