Label: Proper R 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
Are you fed up listening to Bob Dylan as he mumbles through yet another set of songs? Does your Tom Petty collection mostly collect dust nowadays? Can't find anything remarkable with Neil Young or Jackson Browne as of lately? Still in shock over the deaths of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and the whole darn project of the Traveling Wilburys? Look no further as this might just be the album that will once again have you believing in traditional U.S. rock and Americana. Nothing remotely new, fancy, or fresh, just darn good and sweet.
Emperors of Wyoming is the new project/band featuring Butch Vig. Well known internationally for producing classic albums such as Nirvana's Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin's Siamese Dream, Sonic Youth's Dirty, Green Day, etc. Not to forget for being the drummer and founding member of Garbage. Along side him on this record are the Anderson brothers (Pete -bass, Frank -guitar, lap/pedal steel dito) of cult Bay Area rockers Call Me Bwana, and former Fire Town vocalist/guitarist Phil Davis.
It's 10 tracks of traditional alt country/folk/rock with its sound and aesthetic rooted in the turn-of-the-century American West the album delivers raw Americana. And hey, I believe their monicker is straight off the vast back catalogue of Neil Young? ('The Emperor of Wyoming' from the self-titled 1968 debut album). The opening, "The Bittersweet Sound of Goodbye" sets the standard of the entire album with its songwriting style of Bob Dylan and bits and pieces of The Waterboys. Next up, "Avalanche Girl", catchy laidback rock in the vein of Tom Petty in the seventies. We're off to a great start and it's just the beginning.
"Never Got Over You" is frankly just a tad modern and truely lovely mish-mash of the two dead gentlemen wearing all black (Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash). We salute you brothers of black leather and shades. "I'm Your Man" takes a lot from the slow songs of early/mid 70's Rolling Stones, and mixes it with traditional Americana and country. "Cornfield Palace" is the twang country/rock of the Traveling Wilburys and any old cowboy riding down the sunset with a stupid big grin on his face. Hey, is that Jackson Browne and David Lindley in the background? Nah, but it sure could have been in a different time and place. Excellent. Next track, "Brand New Heart Of Stone", basically a HUGE tribute to Neil Young and his Heart Of Gold era.
Two more great originals (Cruel Love Song, Sweep Away) until they decided to include two rather average covers at the end of the disc. "The Pinery Boy" is a traditional Wisconsin River ballad from the 18th century and not too shabby really. "Bless The Weather" on the other hand is the 1971 song written by John Martyn and quite the boring melody that simply crawls along to the same beat and/or tempo. Final verdict: Cordial and universal? I know nothing to the contrary. Highly recommended!