The Empty Mirror – Overwhelm (CD)

The Empty Mirror is a self-described “Nightmaricana” act, and have been blowing away live audiences since 2005. This previously Ohio-based act has moved up to Washington state, and have released “Overwhelm” after countless nights spent tweaking this album into what listeners will undoubtedly call their “magnum opus”. The disc is broken down into three segments of five tracks, which each track and section establishing a little more of a story. Taken together, these tracks speak to listeners in the same way as Boys Night Out did with their stellar 2005 album, “Trainwreck”. The disc starts out with the haunting, shrill guitar work and ambient noise of “Zepplins in the Fiery Sky”.

After this brief dissonance, The Empty Mirror enter into a tempestuous bit of indie rock that focuses on the emotive lead vocals that issue forth. The Empty Mirror, during this early track on “Overwhelm” tie together a trio of acts in David Bowie (“Ziggy Stardust”-era), Radiohead, and the Queens of the Stone Age. The number of different segments to this track give listeners some sense of where The Empty Mirror will go in the tracks to come, as well as establishing that the band will go anywhere it damn well pleases. “Melting Laughdown” shifts the band’s sound slightly, bringing forth a Tom Waits style of vocals with the intricate arrangements of a Tool, albeit slowed down considerably. “Peak of the Arc” may be Overwhelm’s strongest track, as it continues with the same attention to detail that has been present on previous tracks during “Overwhelm”, while creating some of the catchiest and most driven sounds that listeners will encounter on the album.

The fuzzy guitars will remind listeners of Sonic Youth, The Replacements, and Pere Ubu while the anguished vocals will imprint themselves indelibly in the minds and hearts of anyone that is lucky enough to listen in. While it may be hard to go to see The Empty Mirror live at this point (tour dates for the next three weeks show that the band is focusing on the Seattle area), I would exhort you to figure out a way to see what just may be the next big thing in rock music. Make it a point to pick up “Overwhelm” if you have any desire of hearing one of the best albums released in the last few years. Where acts like Desert City Soundtrack brought perfection to the emotive and quiet rock sound, The Empty Mirror create a blueprint for future rock bands of all stripes to follow.

Top Tracks: Olive, Shoestring Century

Rating: 8.7/10

The Empty Mirror – Overwhelm / 2008 Landowner / 15 Tracks / http://www.theemptymirror.net /

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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