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Album review: The Empty Spaces - Party Line (EP)

Album review: The Empty Spaces - Party Line (EP)

Mat Shoare and his band, The Empty Spaces, owe a lot to Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy and The Ventures. On Party Line, the band’s second EP, though, Shoare delivers a little more rockabilly and Replacements with his pop (especially on the brief standout, "Jackie Says"). You gotta give it up to the band, however, for embracing all the slap delay, Ampex tape and Stratocasters of old, without sounding merely like a tribute band. Recording live, the band captures the energy of its live shows. And like any good EP or 45, Party Line gives fans an snapshot of the band, unadorned with studio chicanery.

The EP starts fittingly with the title track, “Party Line,” a good indication of where the band’s headed in the next 20 minutes. The strongest track, "The 1960s Divorce Rate Blues," benefits most from the live recording when it collapses from a rocking 4/4 into a doo-wop waltz. The closer, "B-52’s," pushes the rockabilly envelope farthest. With the rhythm section carrying the song, Shoare has fun with a spring reverb tail louder than his twangy guitar.

With occasional mistakes that seem intentionally left in, these recordings certainly feel live. They could also benefit from overdubbing. Some background vocals or an occasional second guitar part give the listener something to return to. That minor complaint aside, one thing’s for certain, listening to Party Line aptly prepares anyone for an Empty Spaces concert. In the age bands filling out their live sound with auxiliary band members and laptops, this can certainly be refreshing.

Listen to tracks from The Empty Spaces' first EP Low Noise at their page on Golden Sound Records.

The Empty Spaces will be kicking off a short Midwestern tour to celebrate the release of Party Line on Thursday night at The Brick with Soft Reeds and The Caves. From there, they'll be hitting St. Joseph (Cafe Acoustic on Friday), Omaha, Des Moines, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, and Lawrence (The Jackpot on August 4).

--Jonathon H. Smith

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Published: July 24, 2012 |

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