Music

American Princes: Little Spaces

Stephen Haag

Contradictions be damned, the American Princes could be on their way to becoming modern classic rock royalty.


American Princes

Little Spaces

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2005-08-23
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

With flotillas of garage bands and arty, post-punk New New Waves crashing the airwaves daily (at least that's the stuff that finds its way to my ears these days), it's refreshing to hear an indie rock band that is more "indie rock" than "indie rock". Arkansas-based quartet American Princes is one of those bands, and while the band members -- guitarist/singer David Slade, guitarist/keyboardist Collins Kilgore, drummer Matt Quin and bassist Luke Hunsicker -- call the Midwest home (though all but Kilgore are transplanted New Yorkers), they're no Anthemic Heartland Rockers. Rather, on their 2004 debut LP, Little Spaces -- reissued by Yep Roc, in preparation for the band's Yep Roc debut proper, slated for 2006 -- the Princes proclaim themselves heirs to the "Dark Midwest" (for lack of a better phrase) currently occupied by Lucero and Kings of Leon.

Rather, two-thirds of Little Spaces makes that proclamation. They open strong: unabashed rockers like "I Want to Be Good", led by Quin's insistent drums, and the Whiskeytown-gone-punk "Rock 'n' Roll Singer", overflowing with big guitars and a solid guitar solo, are what the Princes do best. They also close the album on a high note, with the one-two-three punch of "The Sun Never Sets", the stomping "What's This We've Found" and "100 Eyes". These five songs would've made a helluvan EP, and at the very least leave listeners excited at the prospect's of next year's release, but they've got to lose the elements that hamstring Little Spaces' middle third.

Slade and Kilgore split vocal duties on the album, but credit isn't given as to who sings on which track, but one of them is guilty of singing whiny emo lyrics in a flat emo voice, which drags down the middle of the album -- Big Problem Number One. On the acoustic, stripped down (incidentally, that's Small Problem Number Two -- these guys are at their peak when they drop the hammer), Singer X blubbers "Are you tired of me asking too much of you?" in a voice that sounds like Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba -- eek. Ditto for "Providence, RI" -- the vocals don't fit the band's identity, and with lines like "Take me back to sunny Providence, RI", the band betrays the fact that they've never been to Providence (my apologies to the Providence Chamber of Commerce). And while I dig the line "Tylenol breakfast for alcohol dinners" from "Eyeliner", I can't get onboard with the tune itself, a downbeat waltz. I know that ballads and midtempo numbers are part of a rock band's repertoire, but when the disparity between the rockers and the "slow songs" is as great as it is on Little Spaces, a band needs to reconsider its attack and stick with what it does best.

The phrase "modern classic rock" is incorrectly applied at an alarming rate these days (and here I'm talking not about fusty, hopelessly out of date rock and roll, the Nickelbacks of the world; in the best sense of the phrase, it evokes the abovementioned Lucero, Kings of Leon, and, say, the latest Sleater-Kinney record), but it's a genre that could be within reach for the American Princes an album or two down the line. All they have to do is keep the rhythm section rock solid, tighten up the riffs, which admittedly are a little too workmanlike, and drop the emo tendencies, and American Princes could have a modern classic rock gem on their hands.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.