If you have never heard of Even Nine, it isn’t surprising. The three-piece outfit hailing from Cornwall consist of brothers Jody (bass/vocals) and Rick Martin (guitar) and friend Brett Stepto (drums). Having released three albums since 2008, they are still relatively unheard of and despite touring relentlessly for years they are yet to break into mainstream media and receive wider coverage. Whilst they have “shared stages with the likes of Fun lovin’ Criminals, Reef and Rooster, played an open air performance in London’s Covent Garden and supported Dr John in front of 10,000 people at the Rock meets Blues festival” (Even Nine website), could it all be about to change with the release of their new album ‘Empires’?
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The introductory song ‘Prelude’ kicks things off with a bang, starting with a tense build up as if it’s about to erupt into something bigger, which it does. However, it then progresses into an even larger, jubilating chorus with an uplifting lead guitar and punchy ‘woah’s’ and ‘oh’s’. A brilliant yet unexpected start.
Generally, the whole album follows the same sort of pattern with its heartfelt vocals and melodic guitars, providing anthemic chord progressions seemingly designed to send listeners into bouts of raptures. Songs such as ‘Hollow’ and ‘The World’s Greatest’ crystallise this entirely.
‘Empires’ moves away from the business-driven, money-spinning indie bands of today towards a more nostalgic sound, reminiscent of alternative rock music that was ever so popular during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Think Pearl Jam, Blink-182 and Soundgarden. This coupled with Stepto’s powerful, robust, Guns N’ Roses/punk-esque drumming demonstrates the band’s ability to piece together numerous influences, altogether bringing a refined and refreshing sound to modern rock and roll. ‘Sweet Anarchy’ and ‘Back to the Drawing Board’ portray that addictive 90’s influence and there is a respectable attempt to bring back the beloved guitar solo. It won’t change the face of music, but it’s a good effort. Another large aspect of 90’s alternative music was that songs weren’t overly happy or sad; they were emotionally complex, which ‘Love Loss and the Truth’ captures both lyrically and musically.
This does raise an important issue, though: In order for music to innovate or be accessible, it must be current and move on with the times in a careful manner, such as not to experiment to the point of it being too obscure whilst not being so typical or nostalgic that it simply won’t appeal to the masses. Even Nine are on middle ground here with ‘Empires’. What overall is a brilliant album, it isn’t art.
‘Empires’ is out now