The Future Kings of Nowhere
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The Future Kings of Nowhere

Durham, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Durham, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



" (National)"

4.5 out of 5 stars:

This is a wordy, but oh so fitting, moniker for Shayne O'Neill's music, as The Future Kings of Nowhere perfectly captures the insouciant grandness he aspires to, with the self- deprecating twist that is the secret to his success. Actually, the secret to his success is summed up best on "I'm Still Waiting": "Take my quick observations and my questions and my poor explanations and wrap them up into rhymes. Weave them around my mouth, suffer me up into brilliance, until no-one doesn't know my name."

With a sharp eye for mundane details, a wry wit, and an occasional ironic twist, the Future King and his cortege of guesting alterno-royalty, take a royal trip around O'Neill's rag- tag inner realm. Along the way there's amends to make, specifically on "Paper Napkins", an apology to the ex- girlfriend who's been the foil of the singer's many break-up songs. Perhaps "Never" describes their relationship, "Like a Staring Contest" their "trainwreck of an ending," but surely not the girl who did a runner and addressed in a folksy letter from home on "C Is for Heartache".

There again, when you entangle yourself with women with a history of "high speed chase, no dialogue," as O'Neill does on "I Want You", it's no wonder problematic relationships make up the bulk of this set. But not exclusively, there's the poignant "Emily", a despondent song revolving around the despair of depression, and the bristling "Later, Rinse, Repeat", where economic devastation wrecks havoc on middle-class pretensions. Then there's the savage "10 Simple Murders", that coolly permits the killer to rationalize his crimes, an Anglo retort to the popular Mexican corridos.

It's easy to fall under the spell of O'Neill's seductive pen, with his vivid imagery and effortless rhymes. His melodies are equally enchanting, and the arrangements superb, as The Kings weave a sublime tapestry from Americana, melodic punk, and southern pop-rock. The use of brass is particularly impressive, rocking out here, adding atmosphere there, with O'Neill's piano often adding a genre twist to his song. A fabulous album, but O'Neill may come to rue his noble name, for surely he's destined for more greatness than nowhere can supply.
- JoAnne Green

" (Chapel Hill)"

The Future Kings of Nowhere write a lot of catchy songs about breaking up; they'd totally be a pop-punk band were it not for the fact that their primary instruments are acoustic guitar & keyboards plus bass & drums. And accordion, saw, and trombone. Singer Shayne O'Neill has a voice that manages to be deep and yet nasal at the same time; it's perfect for what they're doing, and the result is catchy breakup songs for people who don't even like catchy breakup songs.
- Ross Grady

"Creative Loafing (Charlotte)"

This Durham collective plays music that bristles with electricity -- which is significant in that they're an all-acoustic act. Unlike other unplugged Carolinian bands whose punk aesthetic often manifests in sparse instrumentation, this 7-10 member group adds trumpet, sax, trombone, accordion and saw to the mix. Their self-titled debut veers comfortably between up-tempo Weezer-like pop punk and the duskier sides of Devotchka, Calexico or Pinetop 7. As their press aptly states, it's "music for people who are angrier than Peter, Paul or Mary, but nicer than Henry Rollins." - John Schacht

"The Technician (Raleigh)"

Like a fat kid jumping off a diving board, The Future Kings of Nowhere have made a giant splash in the pool of today's musical mode. Durham natives, The Future Kings have assembled an album fit for royalty. These guys know how to rock, and their new self-titled album shows just that.

From the first note, The Future Kings leap from your speakers with a blast of calculated guitar strumming, complimented by superb drumming and the unique voice of Shayne O'Neill. "Lather, Rinse, Repeat," the title track, gives listeners their first taste of an exclusive genre the band likes to call "acousticore." Acousticore, a fusion of pop-punk antifolk, lightning fast acoustic guitars and a bit of country twang produces a unique, yet smooth sound.

As the album progresses, the eclectic sound of The Future Kings continues to impress and excite. As you listen to each new song, don't be surprised if you are filled with excitement much like children on Christmas morning as they rip the wrapping off of their first presents.

The Future Kings' sound, vaguely reminiscent of bands such as Cake and Of Montreal, gives the listener a sense of comfort and familiarity while at the same time making sure the listener stays aware of its individuality and unique blend.

Giddy and full of wonder, you will soon begin to look forward to each song's pleasant harmonies, melodies and the delightful uniqueness many bands lack. O'Neill's lyrics, while easy to understand, are far from meaningless. Chronicling a failed relationship from first meeting to bitter breakup, O'Neill craftily sews metaphors, phrases and subtle humor into tightly-woven sheets of lyrical silk.

From a killer calmly telling the tale of his crimes to the story of a badger and a rabbit digging a hole to China, O'Neill defiantly says what we already know: "I'm gonna play guitar, until I'm a star, and I become a household name."

If the Future Kings of Nowhere's first album is any indication of what is to come for this band, its coffee-stained songs written on paper napkins are about to make history. It seems to this author there is only one direction for them to go in, and it's not down.

Jump on the bandwagon and pick up the CD -- I can promise you won't be disappointed, and soon, like me, you will become a member of the band's royal entourage.
- Chris Cioffi

"The RockIt (Los Angeles)"

Something is different about this picture: a band consisting of a front man on acoustic guitar, accompanied by an acoustic bassist, saxophonist, trombonist and trumpeter/accordionist, with no distorted amps in sight. Well, that is Durham, North Carolina's the Future Kings of Nowhere for you. This seven-piece mixed-gender band refers to its unique style of music as "acousticore," which according to the band is "Southern folk-punk that will infect your subconscious for hours after you listen." Luckily, the final result is not an acoustic version of blink-182, but a more complex and thought out album full of tunes about love, death, and alienation sung by founding member Shayne O'Neill. For example, the wonderful track "Emily" focuses on the dark tale of a girl and is accompanied by beautifully constructed instrumentals. Plus, there is an awesome accordion part near the peak of the song. Though the Future Kings of Nowhere have a serious side to them, all the high speed acoustic guitars, double-time drumming, and brass instruments prevail and create quite a fun album. - Andrew Schwartz

"The Metro Times (Detroit)"

Just like the Kingston Trio, only faster and bloodier. - Detroit's Weekly Alternative

"Alternative Press (National)"

The Future Kings of Nowhere
"The Future Kings of Nowhere"

Frontman Shayne O'Neill's solo project turned full on sextet.

Sounds like?
O'Neill says it's "acousticore", and though no one knows what it means, it's about right.

How Is It?
Basically, we need more "acousticore" bands: The album kicks like a major punk record, has the melodic overtures of a pop album and boasts enough sappy lyrics to turn any frown upside down.

Rocks like?
Rocky Votolato, Bayside, Southern Culture on the Skids
- cd review - 4 out of 5 stars

"Razorcake (National)"

This sounds a lot like the new acoustic punk style that the kids love in the wake of Against Me! Instead of neck-bearded punkers though, this has members of Southern Culture On The Skids and other NC bands. Sounds like a cross between Against Me! and the first Violent Femmes record. - Mike Frame

"The Independent Weekly (Durham)"

Sometime very soon, someone will look past the frenetic acoustic guitar, the singing saw, the trombone, trumpet and skittering drums of The Future Kings of Nowhere's self-titled debut and call the core of what Shayne O'Neill and his revolving band do emo. Oh shit, right?

Thing is, that person is going to be almost exactly right: "It's a trainwreck of an ending/ the same as if we'd not even met," O'Neill sings in his happily nasal voice on "Like a Staring Contest." Or, better yet, during his anthem for unrequited, even unrecognized amorousness called "What You Don't Know Might Kill Me," he pounds his guitar like his ego, letting loose with this barb of frustration: "You don't even know that I've been running/ Completely unaware that I'm coming after you/ You can tell your friends that you feel nothing/ Tell them that I feel it, too." O'Neill knows his feelings, and he uses them as his chief lyrical fount.

But, in 2007, decrying the Kings as emo is crippling, reductive and, as after-effects go, more than a little wrong. O'Neill and company are leaps more charming than cloying, his earnestness playing out with wit and vigor, qualities of a songwriter with plenty of experience but far too much hope, enthusiasm and intelligence to be jaded or cliché with his past. True, O'Neill names songs after his girlfriend and hits these big, strident, heart-in-the-larynx choruses with the help of his harmonizing friends, but, as a songwriter, he's in a class far above what's called emo right now. Rather, O'Neill is uncannily smart, spinning phrases like loopholes, casting anecdotes as metaphors and dropping narrative details like crumbs.

Remember the song about the trainwreck? Before that, O'Neill compares avoiding a break-up to two rodents trying to dig their way to China from a backyard, only to have the dirt collapse on their backs. Or that song for his girlfriend? By way of first verse, he goes ontological with it, wondering if the paper he's wasting writing love songs and the furniture that's supporting him is really worth the trees they cost. He's calling his whole profession into question, really, and love-led sincerity this clever and crafty could lead more than one more so-called emotional songwriter to do the same. Similarly, this magnetic if imperfect debut implores you to go well beyond the surface.

- Grayson Currin

"The Daily Tarheel (Chapel Hill)"

Future Kings a Worthy Heir To Genre's Throne

There's a reason bands like The Ataris and The Promise Ring, for all the disrespect that has been handed them, were so loved in the mid-to-late-'90s.

They were honest.

Some would say it takes a big man to admit that breaking up hurts a whole heck of a lot, but luckily, some of those not-too-proud bands were willing to give our adolescent selves a few nuggets of honest, heartfelt wisdom to help through those rocky first tries.

But now we're older, and breaking up still hurts a whole heck of a lot, relationships are still awkward and confusing, and Jimmy Eat World just won't cut it anymore.

So now we have The Future Kings of Nowhere, a Durham collective led by the unabashed and clever songwriting of singer/guitarist Shayne O'Neill, who can pull a fresh metaphor seemingly out of thin air.

With their eponymous debut, The Future Kings give us a venture into the style the band has dubbed "acousticore," claiming it to be music for people who are "angrier than Peter, Paul or Mary, but nicer than Henry Rollins."

O'Neill's exclusively acoustic guitar is flanked by drums, bass, horns and vocals taken from a buffet of local all-stars (members of Midtown Dickens, Southern Culture on the Skids, Eberhardt and The High & Mighties appear on the album, and Sweater Weather's Casey Trela assisted with the engineering).

But what pushes The Future Kings of Nowhere beyond mere Punk Goes Acoustic comparison is O'Neill's clever, witty and wise songwriting.

Yes, for the most part the lyrics focus on personal relationships and falling in and out of love, but O'Neill approaches this topic with a level of experience that no teeny-bopping emo kid could hope to achieve.

From the divorcee's lament that is "C is for Heartache" to the painfully resigned "Like a Staring Contest," which describes a stagnating relationship and the agonizing reluctance to leave it, the heartache of The Future Kings is a grown-up version.

But it's not all teardrops either. There's the bashful but blunt "I Want You" and the cheery slacker anthem "Lather, Rinse, Repeat: with its "f-k it all!" gang vocals and exuberant tempo.

And O'Neill even tries on a rollicking crime spree with the macabre standout "10 Simple Murders," complete with trumpets echoing "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" tucked into the back of the mix.

Most of all, though, The Future Kings of Nowhere is the kind of band you sing along to, feeling it swell up in your heart as it rushes out your throat.
- Bryan Reed


CD - The Future Kings of Nowhere - self-titled - 307 Knox Records



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We are able to play in two configurations! As a full rock band (acoustic guitar, electric bass, and a drum kit) or as a stripped down all-acoustic act (acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, washboard/tambourine). Both formations provide the fantastic energy and the passionate delivery that fans look for in a Future Kings of Nowhere show, but the flexibility allows us to play anywhere from ampitheaters to living rooms.

Brimming with wit and energy, The Future Kings of Nowhere play acoustic pop-punk antifolk with an occasional bit of country twang. They call it acousticore. High speed acoustic guitars, double-time drumming, lush harmonies, and a slew of auxiliary instruments create a frantic backdrop for these songs of love, death, and modern day alienation. They sing with a disarming honesty that draws you in and a beat that keeps you moving. The hooks sink deep and the energy is unforgettable. One listen to their debut CD, released in late 2007 on 307 Knox Records, and you will be humming these tunes for weeks.

Kimya Dawson, The Mountain Goats, Man Man, Annuals, The Never, Megafaun, Cantwell Gomez & Jordan, Red Collar, Dan Melchior, Midtown Dickens

- Charted on CMJ Charts and RIYL Charts
- (#2) Top 10 albums of 2007 by University of North Carolina
- (#9) Top 25 Albums of 2007 by
- Top 35 Songs of 2007 by The Independent Weekly
- Debut album received 3.5 out of 5 stars from Alternative Press
- Repeatedly an Indy Pick by Grayson Currin (Pitchfork writer)
- NACA Members

CMJ Music Marathon 2007, SXSW 2008, Troika 2006/2007, WE Fest 2008