The warden said, “hey, buddy, don’t you be no square, if you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.” Least Elvis tells it as thus, I wasn’t in the whole cell block at the time.
Ah, not always a wooden chair around though; availability of seating at many a gig I’ve attended slight, the act pleading to the shied audience to dance. Why I like the name of this Wiltshire, The Empty Chairs. It suggests everybody’s boogying, better than C+C and their music factory!
“We’re often asked why the band chose the empty chairs as a band name, it can sound negative, but when we’re faced with a room of empty chairs,” they explain, “it’s a positive thing because we know we’ve got the audience up and dancing.” For if you really do have to sit while listening to this rock n roll four-piece, you’re going to at least be toe-tapping.
While the Empty Chair’s provides an assortment of covers ranging from Imelda May, JD McPherson to rock n roll classics like Elvis and Chuck Berry, and lead singer Carmen also heads function band The Casual Ties with a plethora of pop hits spanning all eras, The Easy Chairs have released a debut EP of original material called “Devil’s Music,” very worthy of our attention.
Sure, it’s rock n roll, essentially, but carries a tint of acceptable post punk pop; think Blondie particularly, given the accomplished gritty female vocals, delivered wonderfully by Carman Hyde. Yet, while the genre of yore may have lost its roots since Elvis was doing bird in the big house, the twangy pentatonic guitar licks, and archetypical composition of these original tunes are homage to the true spirit of rock n roll’s golden era, with nods to both its blues and country influences.
Throw away thoughts of seventies reconditioned rockabilly though, there’s nothing Matchbox, The Darts or gaudy suits and spongy platform shoes about this steady tempo rock n roll, for which I’d confess I troubled putting my finger on comparisons to the Empty Chairs, without cliché or discrepancies. Need to say more, it has to be heard, because while it retains these influences, it doesn’t feel retro revival in any fashion, rather strangely fresh and contemporary.
Neither, I suspect will it be the next big thing, to be brutal about it, it’s not bonkers as the title track, Devils Music, might suggest. It’s not high-energy rawness, taking you to new forms, but feels like some proficient musicians, drummer Dom, guitarists Daniel and Darren, and singer Carmen, having fun putting their four years of experience to the test, and for which, it works and is a fabulously catchy and bouncy beat, in line with their cater-for-all ethos.
The opening tune, Preacher informs just how it’s going to go down, beguiling and rocking. The writing is virtuous, the title track which follows is a love-knows-no-rules subject, with an impenetrable rhythmic groove, which flows throughout. Southern fried it progresses through an eloquently melancholic account of a girl called Jodie, through to the feelgood Brand-New Day.
I know the bread-and-butter scenario for singers, a function band like The Causal Ties requires you strum through timeworn anthems, and for which I’d suspect The Empty Chairs would produce a most memorable evening too. Yet I’d like to see these guys booked at a venue keen to promote original music, like the Vic, Southgate, or Shoes, as this showcase EP is skilful and moreish. In fact, guitarist Darren Arthurs just let it slip they’re at our trusty Southgate next year!
EP on Bandcamp here – and give them a Facebook Like here!
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