Decent Opening Band
For those of us who appreciated or even preferred the Guy Picciotto side of Fugazi, Empty Flowers may be right up our alley. The east coast-based post-hardcore four piece band shows that there may still be a place for tightly-wrapped, driving noise-rock on their sophomore effort, Five, a focused follow-up to last year’s Six. However, it’s not quite strong enough for long enough to launch this band into the upper echelon of this genre.
Five begins similarly to Six, with a drawn-out intro that eventually gives way to Christian McKenna’s impassioned vocals. On “I Get to Know It’s [sic] Name,” the best of Empty Flowers comes out. Randy Larsen’s fuzzy bass escorts Bernie Raminowski’s rhythmic and dissonant guitar chords through and around McKenna’s anti-melodic delivery. On “Lousy Phil,” a different side of Empty Flowers comes out, a melodic side, and it shows McKenna’s versatility. Here, he employs a tone that’s closer to the Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson than the aforementioned former Fugazi member. The music though, like the other songs on Five, makes Empty Flowers sound like an opening band for Lungfish.
And as an opening band, one tends to be satisfied with less than exceptional, and one expects to be a little bored, facilitating bathroom or snack breaks. That’s what happens while listening to Five. While it starts promising, by the fourth or fifth song, you start wondering what else Empty Flowers has to offer. The arrangements, while cool and interesting, are not necessarily captivating, like a promise unfulfilled.
Lethargic closer “Trained Not to Worry” shows a little more versatility as a slower, offbeat dirge, ending with a hound’s howl. If this song ended a set, the crowd would be more than ready for the next band. But still, Five is a little more accessible than Six, and if Empty Flowers is counting down to their opus, One should be an excellent album.