New Music Review: Julian Casablancas and Empires

Casablancas Live

Julian Casablancas on stage.

This week in music saw a wonderfully weird release from Julian Casablancas +The Voidz, as well as a major label debut from Empires. Below, I’ll share a few thoughts on the new releases and why you should be picking up these two albums.

Julian Casablancas+The Voidz – Tyranny

Casablancas, best known as the front man for The Strokes, dropped Tyranny this week with his new band, The Voidz. Anyone looking for the sounds of The Strokes, or even his debut solo album, will be disappointed and maybe confused. This album is out there. Clocking in at over an hour, the group explores all sorts of sounds. “Human Sadness,” the eleven minute epic, provides a Daft Punk feel that Casablancas no doubt picked up after working with the French duo. “Crunch Punch” is about as pop as the album will get, and (my personal favorite) “M.utally A.ssured D.estruction” is a two and a half minute tour de force. The group is probably looking to make some sort of statement, but you won’t be able to understand it as most of the vocals are buried in the mix (a Casablancas standard). Still, that being said, it’s not a bad album if you listen with no preconceived notions. I haven’t been able to stop listening, as I want to keep exploring it more and more. Maybe Casablancas is looking to shed some Strokes fans by heading in a new direction, I don’t really know, but I want to hear more.

Empires – Orphans

I was introduced to Chicago’s Empires by reviewing a show that they headlined at House of Blues. Having never heard them before, I was pleasantly surprised and the band quickly became one of my favorites. Orphans is the band’s major label debut and is one alternative fans should pick up. I’d compare the band’s sound as The National meets The Killers (I’m sure there’s more apt comparisons out there). I still maintain that “Hostages” sounds like a song U2 wishes they could write right now. “Silverfire” is a great opening track that sounds like an early track The National would have wrote, but more polished. The highlight though is “How Good Does It Feel,” an uptempo number that reminds me of “Keep It Steady” off the band’s Garage Hymns release, with lead singer Sean Van Vleet providing a strained howl over the bridge of the song. This band is a must listen with a live show that needs to be attended.

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A certified personal trainer and graduate of Northwestern University (M.A. in Sport Adminstration), Steve is resident fitness expert and music snob of JustAGuy. In addition to fitness and music, Steve also enjoys sports. Feel free to trash talk him at steve@justaguy.us.

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