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How Good Does It Feel EP

(Chop Shop / Island; US: 17 Jun 2014; UK: 17 Jun 2014)

Empire Building

Chicago four-piece Empires have a pop-friendly rock sound that has already been compared to both the 1975 and the National. On the latter, I don’t really hear it. But that doesn’t mean that Empires doesn’t have an indie-ready friendly sound. On the How Good Does It Feel EP, the band unleashes four songs that effectively show off the different colours of its sound, and preps fans for something more full-length. Opening cut “Hostage” effectively is the most affecting song to be had here: with its pluming drums and instantly catchy opening guitar riff, it’s a head nodding anthem. Vocalist Sean Van Vleet sounds an awful lot like Bono, so compare this band to U2 if you will. The title track feels remotely Strokes-esque with its thudding bass and haunting vocals. “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” has a giddy feel to it, and feels remotely ‘80s-esque. And final song “Lifers” is a soaring ballad, and though it showcases a different side to the ballad, it is probably the least memorable thing to be found on the EP.

Overall, Empires has about a .750 batting average here, which is pretty not bad. Those who don’t like glossy altera-pop will find things to snivel their nose up at on this short statement, but, for everybody else, the How Good Does It Feel EP is quite appealing and showcases to pretty good effect just what the band is capable of. While the EP, outside of that first song, doesn’t feel particularly novel, it is still an entertaining collection of songs. There’s a lot to be taken by here, and Empires put themselves collectively on the map as a talent bunch of individuals that it would be good to keep an eyeball or two out on. The How Good Does It Feel EP feels pretty darn good, and listeners looking for the next big thing should be tempted to go out and search these guys out. There’s talent to spare here, and the band should be poised for some level of great success.


Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, and more. He also reviews books for

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