The Empires
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The Empires

Band Rock Avant-garde


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"No Format July 6th/05"

NO FORMAT: JULY 6th - The Empires, The Diableros, plus guests

The details are finally sorted out.

Starting July 6th, on the first Wednesday of each month, we'll be doing a club night in Toronto. Two live bands with be playing, along with DJ sets from myself and Ian Worang (of Uncut and The Two Koreas), plus a guest. We're going to be focusing on local bands, and showcasing what we consider to be some of the best upcoming talent in Toronto.

The Empires are hook-based, guitar-driven indie rock, with a tendency towards wall-of-sound production. Great melodies, word of mouth, and a series of impressive live reviews brought them to our attention. If you didn't catch their last Wavelength show, you missed out: FOR MP3's

"Wavelength review"

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I’m afraid I don't have much more to say about Mississauga's The Empires since I saw them last back in February, at least not in terms of descriptives. Believe me, I tried to come up with something besides, "Swervedriver having a really intense conversation with Catherine Wheel in a dark room in Brooklyn at 3AM", but I really can't. However, I think that's pretty complimentary so I'll leave it at that.

Their set last night they played Wavelength, however, was much more impressive than the Horseshoe gig a month and a half ago. The sound was better, the band had more energy and the song selection seemed stronger (I'm assuming it was a different set - I don't know their stuff that well and I can't really A/B the two shows). I left the last show wanting to like the band but not quite being there. This time they put me over the top. Some of the songwriting is still uneven - the good songs are quite head and shoulders above the others - but it certainly bodes well when they grow into more consistency. Some photos from the show here. The projections they use at Wavelength always make for strange pictures. For more info, check out their MySpace page though the audio is the same tracks that are available on their website.
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"Top Ten picks 2005"

Top Ten picks of 2005 from
(Wednesday November 25th 2005)

I'm looking at the discrepencies between my list below and the final standings, and am trying to figure out the disconnect. First, I think I was still operating on Leafblower's more subjective "favourite acts of the year" criteria rather than Matthew's more objective, "acts that were hot in 2005". For example - even though I haven't fallen under their thrall yet, I'd be an idiot to deny that Wolf Parade were hot this year. But I (mostly) stand by my picks, though I sort of wish - as I did for Leafblower's list - that I actually gave more thought to my selections. Maybe for next year I'll actually think about this more than an hour before sending my list off. But anyway, here's the list, followed by some rationales, followed by some more contemplation.

1. Broken Social Scene (2)
Broken Social Scene responded to huge expectations by releasing an album confounding, initially impenetrable but still inexplicably engaging. It started as a grower and it hasn't stopped. It's like kudzu. Related - Pitchfork talks to the Broken Social brain trust, aka Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Dave Newfeld.

2. The New Pornographers (6)
Though Twin Cinema seemed to put off some people, it's the album that really made me love the New Pornographers. All-out pop is great, but the fact that they were able to make something as beautiful and downbeat as "The Bleeding Heart Show" put them in another league completely, as far as I'm concerned.

3. Feist (5)
I still listen to Feist's Let It Die. A lot. And her Canada Day show this Summer? One of the best nights ever. Cha Cha Charming has an interview (via For The Records).

4. Stars (7)
I'm inclined to agree with the esteemed Mr Wherry in saying that Stars have the potential to out-sell both Arcade Fire and BSS - and to do it, they wouldn't have to change a single blessed thing. Sublime pop with just a hint of teeth. Baby teeth, but teeth nonetheless. At SxSW, they were one of the acts that everyone I met was talking about.

5. Metric (8)
I'm going to admit something here - I slotted Metric in here without a) having heard Live It Out or b) having seen them live in over two years. Their rank was based mainly on past accomplishments and expectation of a constant upward trajectory. Well I got their new album this past weekend and am thinking maybe I expected a little much. Live It Out goes a little too hard for the throat and occasionally stumbles on the way, but it's not bad at all... But I'm sure their live show still kicks - and speaking of which, they've just announced a show at the Kool Haus on February 24. Tickets $22.50, on sale Saturday at 10AM, presale today.

6. Arcade Fire (1)
I'm surprised that Arcade Fire topped the list overall - I didn't consider rereleasing the EP to be all that big a deal and while yeah, the live show still astounds, for me 2005 was a less AF-saturated year than the last four months of 2004, and it'll surely get taken up a few dozen notches next year when the sophomore album comes out. See, I'm just thinking relatively.

7. Neil Young (-)
Neil Young just turned 60 a couple weeks ago, and dammit, listen to On The Beach and I defy you to give me one reason he shouldn't be number one on this list, no matter what the year.

8. The Hidden Cameras (-)
The Hidden Cameras are a bit of a left field pick for me, as I'm not really that big a fan, but I'm going to see their "In The Boneyard" show with the Toronto Dance Theatre tonight at Harbourfront, and I suspect that I'll be converted after that.

9. The Airfields (-)
10. The Empires (-)
My last two picks are local Toronto acts which, while they don't have too much profile yet, actually caught my ear, and for whatever reason there's not too many local up-and-coming acts that do that. While not as groundbreaking as the bands that did make the list, they make the sort of music that the nostalgist in me wishes people still made (C86 indie pop and space rock, respectively) and probably live just down the street from me.


Lesbian Games Limited Edition Single
First full length "Foundation and Empire" available in May 2006.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Empires: cinematic science-fiction indie rock

The Empires were formed in Toronto in 2002 by Terrence Kramer and James Strachan who grew up together listening to 70s prog-rock and early jazz-fusion.

After several years worth of playing and recording with various music projects during the 90's, Terry and James enlisted John Hall (formerly of By Divine Right) and Graham Walsh (also of Holy Fuck) in 2003 to complete the The Empires.

Though the band has often been compared to late 80s/early 90s brit/shoegaze bands such as Catherine Wheel and Swervedriver, The Empires themselves don't see the connection, having been influenced more by the sounds of Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Magma, Miles Davis, Bruce Hack, SFA, Ennio Morricone, Bartok, & AM radio.

The Empires desire is to explore the musical spectrum; from strange, melodic pop/rock songs to more unconventional experiments in sound and music. The songs conjure themes of obsession, nostalgia, futurism, and horror, based on ideas from science fiction novels and films.

In 2004 the band focused on playing live shows in Toronto and other Canadian cities, and made their US debut during a 4-show 'mini-tour' in NYC in November. During this time they also released a self-produced EP called "Lesbian Games".

After spending much of the last year working on new songs for their first full-length album (but having written and recorded enough for two full albums), The Empires are anticipating the release of "Foundation and Empire" which is currently in production. Also in the works is an experimental DVD intended as a follow-up to the record, based on the visual projections used in their live shows, and featuring songs from the album (as well as other unreleased goodies).