February 19, 2013


`Waiting To Exhale’
(Stay In Touch)
The Empty Vessels’ last offering was a monstrous rolling thundercloud of psychedelic blues that married Hendrix with Blue Cheer, all fronted by the towering vocal talents of Matt Greenham. It earned them a Demo of the Month and place on the 2010 Oxford Punt and they’ve been a fixtureon local rock bills ever since.

This new release fi nds the band more considered, losing some of that wild edge in favour of more finely-tuned musicianship, but maybe they’ve lost a bit of that old spark along the way. EP opener `Once A King’ repays repeated listening and sounds oddly like Pearl Jam paying tribute to Roxy Music; it’s almost jazzy at times and more at home in a loung bar than a down-at-heel rock dive, while `Consolers Of The Lonely Night’ kicks in with some sky-searching riffage and tumbling drumming but never really lets its hair down fully, hard and steady instead of untamed.

`Aint Got The Time’ too tends to tip-toe around you rather than stomp on your sensibilities, while
bonus track `Here Come The Empty Vessels’might well be – whisper it – a reincarnated Reef. All’s not lost, though. `Stand In Line’ ups the ante several notches, a return to epic proportions and with hefty hints of Queens Of The Stone Age
in its hook-laden chorus. It’s what they do best. Sometimes band maybe need to remember where their strengths lie, forget about trying anything too clever and just, well, rocking like fuck.
Ian Chesterton

February 19, 2013


Demo of the Month

Demo of the Month

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February 19, 2013


music in oxford logo

My first ever musical bribe duly arrived just after Christmas, courtesy of local classic rockers The Empty Vessels, in the form of four delicious chocolate coins. So that was one lunchtime taken care of.

In any event, they needn’t have bothered, as their new EP deserves measured praise, independent of irregular perquisites. Everything about this record is bold, hearty and ruggerish, whether it is the sweaty, satisfyingly thumpy rhythm section, the testosterone-charged Paul Rodgers-fights-John Fogerty vocals or the joyously uncool guitar riffing. This is a band that time forgot.

Opener ‘Blood on the Streets’ exemplifies all this, with a guitar riff possibly half-inched from Lenny Kravitz (I did say ‘joyously uncool’, didn’t I?), over which Matt Greenham sings with lusty enthusiasm about some approaching barney, riot or ruck. Whatever it is, The Empty Vessels seem to be up for it. If they ever remake ‘Minder’, (and I mean properly, not the unwatched Channel Five embarrassment. I mean with ‘Gawd ‘elp us, it’s the filth’ and Dennis Waterman singing the theme tune), this song should be a shoo-in for the scratch track.

‘Take a hard look’ boasts equally old-fashioned virtues, coming over like a slightly modified version of one of those really cooking, slow-swinging Free songs. ‘Ride on Pony’ springs to mind. OK, it’s probably a remake of a remake, but it’s swarthily stylish and it sounds like the musicians were having a blast playing it. Greenham is beyond doubt a great rock singer. He has no time for nuance: he is a brontosaurus-bashing caveman and every office-bound, angst-ridden modern male should be cheering him on in his reconstruction of unapologetic masculinity. Jeremy Clarkson sometimes seems to be a parody of that possibly-mythical beast: Greenham is the real deal.

On the later songs, the template is tweaked just a little. ‘It Moves Me’ shows some environmental concerns, not unlike those expressed on MGMT’s ‘Kids’, though the music could hardly be more different.’If All in the World’ shows a bit more rhythmic flexibility than the others, with some prime ‘Mars: the Bringer of War’ drums hammering out below a rather sinister chorus worthy of local indie heroes Spring Offensive. But at no time on the record is the duty to rock like a bastard neglected.

The Empty Vessels seem to perceive the rock of 1969 as marine biologists do the shark. It’s perfect as it is, so why bother with evolution? I think they even rejoice in their out-of-time incongruity, describing their sound on Myspace as “as solid as BA Baracus”. But I for one am glad they’re around. You can’t listen to Grizzly Bear every day.

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February 19, 2013


First review from the Rebelriffs blog this month is The Empty Vessels, a real four piece gigging band. So if you happen to live in the UK in general or in Oxfordshire in particular, you maybe already know them. There again, that’s probably because you have a life and go out and actually SEE musicians playing instruments (Ed: now there’s a thing…), whereas I just get more and more tracks piling up and a life that’s in the naahhhhh, best not go there. Matt Greenham is on vocals and guitar, Ross McIvor plays another guitar, Matt ‘Junior’ Greetham whomps the bass and Tom Beale kicks the crap out of those round things… errr….whatyacallums. They describe themselves, with some bravery, as ‘ a Rock’n’Roll band and not scared of it’ Now, that’s my kind of attitude.

Yes but Gilmore-san, does it do what it says on the tin. Abser-*******-lutely

There are four tracks on the bands excellently understated website, Take A Hard Look being the one I was offered for download. It didn’t satisfy my need to pin this band down though for reasons I shall return to shortly so I went to have a listen to Blood On The Streets and found the same band, but with two different sounds. Classic rock is the name of the game here, and 1970’s rock in particular, but to be honest I only got a taste of that with Take A Hard Look, listening to Blood On The Tracks and the others confirmed the band musical competence; they are indeed a honest-to-God rock band in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to have been around to see some of the bands who pioneered this sound, so I’m VERY picky about it’s regurgitation…

Or maybe I shouldn’t have brought that up?

Seems to me that the way Take A Hard Look was produced was done in a different way to the other tracks I mention; a wider stereo picture and – I suspect – some inadvertent cleaning up of the overall sound. I’d be willing to bet a pound to a penny that the other three tracks typify what the band sound like live, and for that reason are the tracks I suggest you listen to. While I was listening to Hard Look I was reminded of fussier, more finicky 70’s rock bands and I can’t say I care too much for that. The other tracks have a much more organic feel and leave me with a much better feeling about the band. In point of fact, I’ve been back to listen to them a few times now and every time I am reminded of Free, long before they got a record deal that made them rich and famous – and killed them stone dead, but that’s another story.

Excellent rock band. Highly Recommended.

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February 19, 2013


“It Moves Me” Played on BBC introducing – Radio Oxford in 2011.


February 19, 2013

Oxford Music Scene Review – 2010

“The Empty Vessels have only been around for just over a year.
A self described blues/rock band, they seem to honour all the greats
from this music canon. The singer’s distinctive, powerful vocal
has an obvious Robert Plant influence, and you can’t really
go wrong with that, can you?

It’s this, and the muscular energy in the music,
that makes their sound an instant crowd pleaser…”

Evie Costello, Oxford Music Scene

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