September Reviews: Young Empires, The Arcs, Royal Headache and La Luz


Rah Rah—Vessels

Did you know that there are people living in all that space between Toronto and Vancouver? Not only that, but they’re making some tunes, some damn good ones. Repping us prairie folk, Rah Rah is busting back onto the scene after leaving fans with their previous treat, The Poet’s Dead, three long years ago. They have a Mother Mother-ish quality to them. That quirky indie dynamic, smart lyrics, danceable songs that shouldn’t be danceable and that underlying darkness to a campy song that when done just right is perfect. Mixed with the voices of the three vocalists Vanessa Benson, Marshell Burns and Erin Passmore the album offers a delight for everyone.

The album is something special, if you hadn’t heard of the band before hearing Vessels, you’ll instantly fall in love. Beginning with Be Your Man, Marshell Burns will have you planning on how to make him yours. The song is a catchy bunching of gooey indie but there is an overpowering sincerity heard in his voice that makes the song that makes it more than just a catchy song.

The star-track, Chip Off The Heart, is a great follow up. While be your man is a shadow of the band’s previous work, the second single is a shake for fans to look at the new direction the band has taken. Which merges nicely throughout their album. Vamping up guitar, and adding faster paced songs, Rah Rah’s new sound is still laced in what was so loveable about them before. Ten songs in we meet, Surgery, which may be the most out of ordinary thing Rah Rah has done, but is definitely one of the best on the album. It sounds like a drug trip. Bursting with aggression, it’s a rush of energy a song before the album is finished, offering one last surprise before the saccharine ending.

Who would have thought five prairie folk could jam this well.—take a listen and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

*Just In* Young Empires—The Gates

If you didn’t like Young Empires, you will now. The boys from Toronto are proving themselves as ones to watch by showing a completely concentrated energy, sound, and direction that work perfectly. They no longer seem lost in the pairing of sounds and have seem to blossomed into some great emerging musicians. They took what was strong about them and made it their new sound. Ditching the fast pace indie rock heard in early tracks like, White Doves, and Wake All My Youth, the boys have now advanced their sound into a smooth balanced electronic rock.

The album starts off strong with the stunner track Mercy followed by the self-titled track. The two are the gems of the album, but the boys don’t let you down after those. Although the two tracks are definitely a draw in, there is a lot more to love about The Gates.


Royal Headache—High

Step back into the American rock scene with four Australian boys who were clearly far too young to have lived it. High, dwells in the sound of a hazy summer days spent amid allies, parking lots and open field, doing everything and doing nothing. There is a theme of escaping reality, with song titles like My Own Fantasy, High, and Another World which focus on submerging yourself in a comforting place where hypnotic guitar and hushed drums end the day. It’s impressive to say the least, for an album from 2015 to fit perfectly into something from the 70s rock prime.


*Just In* The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily

There is something smoother and more put together about the album. There are elements mirroring the strange pleasure of a carnival. A contrasting darkness laced throughout each sweetly sung track. There is something special about albums with an underlying tone that keeps you a little on edge; playing with layering, story-telling and odd elements grafted into tracks, like a woman moaning. You get the sense that something is building. From start to finish, there isn’t one track that is simply okay each is a new side of Auerbach.

It’s a collection of songs from a man trying to separate himself from his past achievements, an ode to what he does best and a safe risk. It’s hard not to instantly think of The Black Keys when Dan Auerbach’s name is mentioned. For 9 years he’s been the vocalist for the well-known blues-rock band with band mate, Pat Carney. But it’s not hard to get their distinguished sound out of your mind when you’re listening to The Arcs’ debut album, and that’s an achievement in itself. Because let’s be honest, if you love The Black Keys that’s why you’re listening to it in the first place. Sure, his voice is the same, but once it begins a strange warped voice fills the speakers. You check to see if it’s the right album, and as the second song, Outta My Mind, begins and the familiar voice overtakes you, a small comfort carries you to explore the rest of the album, which in the end…I preferred over The Black Keys.

La Luz—Weirdo Shrine

Because if you call an album Weirdo Shrine, “what are they going to say?” said the ladies of La luz. The album name was taken from a song lyric, paired against another title and won out because, really, how are you going to forget a name like Weirdo Shine? And let’s be honest, the word weirdo is something that is awfully familiar to all of us. The figurative La Luz shrine is filled with Beach Boys posters, guitar solos and a dark surf-rock by four quirky female bad-asses, Shana Cleveland – guitar, Marian Li Pino – drums Alice Sandahl – keyboard Lena Simon – bass. Cleveland’s voice is probably what a modern day siren would sound like. Like the girl herself, it’s a haunting, saccharine covered delight dipped in an authoritative undertone. Cleveland lures you in to the hypnotic trance, as her band-mates welcome you with soft hymns and equally as transcending melodies. They take you around a dark psychedelic utopia where you can loose yourself pretty easily and never be satisfied of.

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