Empire State Eternal Combustion

Given that Athens, Georgia’s rich musical heritage has produced at least one band that most people have heard of, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that there a few other good bands hidden away in the same area. Empire State would be one of them. Somehow the marriage between a member of Lambchop and a couple of brothers from BeeKeeper has resulted in something that nearly rises to the level of being remarkable. They manage to mix electronic sounds with a large range of more conventional instruments and add some passable vocal harmonies to come up with their second full-length album, Eternal Combustion. It is a weird record that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be when it grows up. And for that reason it dips its feet into a number of lakes, playing with all kinds of styles and genres, seeing what works and what doesn’t. The funny thing is that most of it does work — nothing makes your finger hit the "track skip” button prematurely — and there’s something very intriguing about the majority of the material. The instrumentals are among the more interesting tracks, simply because they tend not to follow the rulebook so rigidly — the slide guitar of the title track seems at odds with everything else going on, while the drunken brass band on "Soaked” adds an unexpected swagger to the proceedings. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the lyrics, which can be, on occasion, the weakest part of the record. (Warm Electric)