There have been, in recent memory, a few albums that have been late bloomers – recorded by bands that gave birth to other bands who went on to great successes. The key example would be Mudcrutch, who became Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Now comes this great piece of crisp, guitar-based pop from The Emperors Of Wyoming, a Madison, Wisconsin group that should have happened in the late ’70’s – and whose members include Phil Davis and Bryan “Butch” Vig – they went on to form the highly-acclaimed (and rather great) Fire Town and release a pair of albums on Atlantic Records. When that adventure ended and Butch Vig had made his mark as a quality producer, he formed another band, this time from the ashes of Fire Town, the multi-platinum Garbage. BUT… The Emperors Of Wyoming were finally realized in 2009 when Davis, Vig and the Anderson brothers, Frank and Pete, decide to record an album together. Proper Records from the U.K. issue the album in Europe in 2012, but in 2014, Liaison Music decides to bring it to an American audience. The band adds three tracks to the original ten and voila – The Emperors Of Wyoming are now a reality.
Of the songs: “Avalanche Girl” is a chiming piece of pure pop, with clean riffs and harmonies; “Never Got Over You” with its feedback and taut-drum opening is a dirge-y memory of a failed relationship with some beautifully subtle slide guitar and a gorgeously economical 12-string solo. “I Don’t Why I Love You” is a slightly-countrified re-imagining of The House Of Love’s early ’90’s classic; “Rebirth Of The Cool” is pedal-steel driven and warmly haunting. “Bless The Weather” is acoustic, stark and magnificent; “Pinery Boy” is a 19th century traditional ballad served up in a powerfully modern fashion. All of this music is produced with a crisp, expansive and clear sound – perfect for the songs.
The Emperors OF Wyoming are a welcome addition to this year’s albums; sometimes older and new is often better.