Friday, May 30, 2014

Emperors of Wyoming-Emperors of Wyoming

Liaison Music Inc.

I've found that there are some reviews which flow naturally from one's mind onto paper. This is not one of those. It's been anything but easy. I've now fussed over this piece for sometime, days and days and even a night or two of troubled sleep (I do realize it's weird what sometimes keeps me awake at night), trying to come up with an opening which would present the key issue of Emperors of Wyoming without dwelling on it or downplaying it. This sad bit is what I came up with. The thing is The Emperors of Wyoming features Butch Vig. Yes, the same Butch Vig that is a celebrated producer (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Sonic Youth) and member of Garbage. As cool as that is he is only a part of of this country and western/rock and roll band and to hype this self-titled debut album for that fact alone would seem to be fairly dishonest and besides, it would take praise away from the other three members of the band (Phil Davis and Frank and Pete Anderson) who are very bit as responsible for this 13-track LP. So, let us acknowledge Butch Vig's appearance here (as a drummer/percussionist, guitarist, keyboardist and background vocalist), but let's not allow that fact to overshadow the band as a whole. Especially as Phil Davis does a remarkable job as front-man here! Sound fair? Good. With that out of the way let's take a look at Emperors of Wyoming and their debut-album. It's worth noting that this album was originally released by Proper Records in Europe in 2012. At that time it only had 10 tracks. Now here it is 2014 and thanks to Liaison Music it has been released here in America in a re-mixed/expanded package (three new cuts were added). As referenced this is country and western/rock and roll, but it also could be characterized as alt-country. Or roots rock. It could also be peppered with words like Americana. However you want to spell it Emperors of Wyoming are just doing their own thing. Granted their own thing would be welcomed lovingly by those who appreciate Tom Petty (whether solo of with the Heartbreakers), Neil Young, Bob Dyan, CCR/John Fogerty and Tom Waits. Lest you think there isn't enough "boogie" here to satisfy the youngsters the band's down-home vibe does get the joint rocking here and there with the best reference point probably being The Rolling Stones. One could probably do a track by track breakdown of these 13 numbers and point out little things here and there where this band springs to mind or that band pops up. Why though? Most band's these days take their cues from different sources, but it's the overall picture that counts most and that's where you really come to appreciate this outfit! Even with all of those different names being spoken the truth is it's only when you really take the time to listen to Emperors of Wyoming whole body of work that it strikes you-Emperors of Wyoming sound mostly like Emperors of Wyoming! And that is a glorious revelation! How often do you hear that anymore? Hardly ever right? Emperors of Wyoming are that kind of band. And this new edition of their self-titled debut reinforces that fact with vibrant colors and rich textures and (above all else) a comforting familiarity that makes you feel as if you are finally home. In the end maybe it doesn't really matter if Butch Vig is the focal point of this band. If it get's people to listen to this album and it makes them want to reconnect with real traditional music then it's a win-win all around!

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