Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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Artist: I Am Empire
Album: Kings
Release Date: 1/25/11
Label: Tooth & Nail Records

As of late, Tooth & Nail Records have signed a slew of new artists to their ever-growing roster. One of those bands would be the California-based rock band I Am Empire. A few years ago is when I actually discovered I Am Empire, when they released their independent, self-titled debut, which was chocked full of high energy songs, with a good mix of slower songs as well. Now, they are back in 2011 with the release of Kings. The album feels like a natural progression for the band, taking their energy up a notch, and not focusing on slower songs as much. There are also great guitar solos spread throughout the album that show the great musicianship that I Am Empire wields in their musical arsenal.

The opening "Brain Damage" has an interesting song structure, with more gritty and heavier verses, before switching into a pop/rock styled chorus. The energy from the song flows well into the anger-laced "Heart Attack," and the following "Saints & Sinners." Things are slowed down a bit with "Hammers & Anvils," with shades of House of Heroes found in the harmonies of the song, accompanying some of the album's best lyrics, while "Love & Despair" brings to mind a Classic Crime-like sound.

Things immediately kick back into gear with "To The Moon," one of the tracks featuring the aforementioned guitar solos that add a nice touch to each song that they grace. Both "The Elevator" and "You're A Fake" were taken from the band's debut album, and appear in Kings in a bit more produced form then the originals, as expected. The energy level then drops again for the ballad "Take Me Away," but only picking up for two more songs, one of which is "You're A Fake," and the other being "Foxhole," the album's most aggressive song. Great drumming, a pulsating bass groove and front man Austin Lyons' vocals yelled at times, and nearly screamed, show off the song's ferocity. The closer, "It's Not Fair," tends to feel a bit out of place, but is one of Kings' unique points, being another slower song with a small bluesy, folk feel to it, especially in the song's solo. Lyon's vocal range is also shown off in the song, reaching a crescendo.

Overall: Swaying vocals and harmonies, sweeping guitar solos and a good balance of edgy verses and melodic choruses encompass I Am Empire's Tooth & Nail debut album, Kings. As "The Elevator" says, "This is our time, without a doubt I know," I'm sure without a doubt that I Am Empire are headed on the right track.

Rating: 8/10

  1. Brain Damage
  2. Heart Attack
  3. Saints & Sinners
  4. Hammers & Anvils
  5. Love & Despair
  6. To The Moon
  7. The Elevator
  8. Dig You Out
  9. Take Me Away
  10. You're A Fake
  11. Foxhole
  12. It's Not Fair
(Buy Here)

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