Oh, ’tis the season…The season to be jolly, to spread kindness while sharing quality time with your family and trying to remember to not drink as much this year at the company Christmas party. Although it seems that what we are hearing most of is the comparison of GOP candidates to Santa’s reindeer and trying to decide who really is behind taking Christ out of Christmas. I blame it on those unholy 99 percenters. Whoever you choose to blame, just loosen up that scarf and manage the inner beast that wants to cut up all the credit cards in-between choking in-laws with string LED lights. But what calms this beast? Why, music of course—local music, that is. You have the power to buy local and share your favorite locals this holiday season, especially with our younger generations.
Once upon a time, I had the crazy cousin who would get me some obscure metal CD. If I listened to them now, I would laugh and probably think that I have acquired a more mature taste for metal, but in the reality of it all, these CDs made me more apt to go into record shops and not worry about only getting the mainstream hits. Cover art and even the “dedicated to” sections interested me and this simple act opened up my musical mind.
This excitement carries over to my mid-adulthood with the new local band The New Empires—and I am dubbing them a personal porch favorite. “Porch favorites” come along when I can play the music around my musically diverse friends without causing a stir, other than someone asking, “Who is that?” After speaking with one of the six members of The New Empires, Matt Brown, I was surprised to hear such a poetic tone behind his writing. Their self-titled album debuted on Dec.1 and sifts though old forgotten places, ending with the repetition that all is not lost. The 10-song LP was recorded, mixed and mastered by Chris Griffin at The Engine Room in New York City. This is the same studio that has housed names such as Madonna, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson and The Hold Steady.
All the members met at Covenant College. Elise Ziegenbien and Steph Hughes reside now in Atlanta but won’t hesitate to share their classic and folk backgrounds by commuting to Chattanooga. Jazz and Irish styling mix with members Ellie and David Henry, while completing the group (and Matt Brown’s dreams) was Jeremy Weber, who brought a nuance of unique styling and out-of-the-box morale. The New Empires have become another local group illustrating my belief that genres are dead. Somewhere in a land far away Incubus meets the Beatles and they decide to venture off into a magical world of chamber pop with a somewhat Celtic balance that is sweet to the taste and tells a story not too far from my own—or yours for that matter. As we manage the cold and darker days with the stresses of the holidays, we begin to remember our own story and so does the artfully put together writing of this album. Most of us have the same lows that accompany an abrupt ability to survive and conquer all.
So when you are thinking about what to get your friends, children, or those nieces and nephews, think outside the box. Don’t buy them an MP3 download—make it personal. Let them remember that music used to be held in your hand and lyrics read on the case Support local business and our very own lyrical entrepreneurs by giving the gift of music. These Bieberized young folk may look at you oddly at first but for all you know, you may help them on their journey, exposing them to a whole new world of music and inspiring them to get on or have a dedication page of their own. Personally, I am proud to become that crazy obscure aunt this year.
The New Empires
JJ’s Bohemia on Feb. 2
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