Band: The Empty Mirror; Grant Huling: Vocals, bass, guitar, songwriter and roducer; Bill Kim: drums; Kate Amrine: trumpet and piccolo trumpet; Karl Lyden: trombone and bass trombone
Album: ‘The Mere’
Being stuck in an emotional time loop that refuses to allow personal growth and professional creativity is an inhibiting cycle that restricts emotional and skill development. That was the unfortunate case for visionary indie rock group, The Empty Mirror, which disbanded in 2009 following the unveiling of its first album, the buzzworthy ‘Overwhelm.’ Despite the grand, contemplative and renegade-inspired messages that are featured on the record, the group collapsed during the making of their intimate nine-track sophomore effort, ‘The Mere.’
But now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of ‘Overwhelm’s distribution, The Empty Mirror’s singer-songwriter, Grant Huling, diligently worked to finish the production on ‘The Mere.’ The band’s follow-up album was finally released last fall, and proved to be just as bold, dynamic and gripping as their debut. Despite the decade-long delay in distribution that occurred in part because of the diminished working collaboration between the musicians, the former group’s frontman powerfully overcame their differences to create an epic, compelling and fascinating record.
The Empty Mirror’s newly unveiled record begins with its title track, which is the best entry on ‘The Mere.’ Huling passionately emotes that he’s the architect of his disconnection with the woman he loves. Driven by classic guitar riffs and drum beats, he emotionally reflects on the demise of his relationship, as he also wonders what’s wrong with him.
‘The Mere’ then transitions into its striking sophomore song, ‘All Stems (Ready to Fast-Forward Now),’ which is driven by a dark garage rock instrumentation that’s reminiscent of David Bowie’s classic tunes. The second entry on The Empty Mirror’s recently distributed record perfectly exudes a stripped down and raw feeling. Huling’s cryptic tone infuses the song’s lyrics with a personal intimacy, as he reveals that the woman he’s involved with shares his feelings of contempt towards their mismatched relationship. He emotionally adds that because of the half-truths she regularly tells, they’re stuck in a loop of repetitive hurt.
Another intriguing track on The Empty Mirror’s follow-up album is the jazz-infused fourth tune, ‘Breakfast at Midnight,’ which interestingly also features a gruff energy. Backed by a brilliant trombone melody that drives the the singer’s vocals a radiant momentum, he questions if the woman he cares about only does things for the recognition, or if she’ll ever truly care about him.
The dark and contemplative ‘Breakfast at Midnight’ then transitions into the stirring and relatable entry, ‘Clownishness,’ which is driven by classic rock guitar riffs. Huling freely admits that he couldn’t work things out with the woman he cares about, as he had a sudden doubt about their connection.
‘The Mere’ begins to wind down, and leads into a memorable and gripping ending with its penultimate song, ‘Fatehandler (For an Insignificant Man).’ The soulful blues-infused track interestingly combines somber and heavy guitars with new wave garage rock and punk tones. The band’s frontman indulges in vivid, radiant vocal harmonies as he begins to wind down the fate of the two lead characters. He admits with a deep sorrow that second guessing has divided them, but he hasn’t completely given up on their love, as he feels as though she still has some excellent qualities.
Being stuck in an emotional time loop that withholds the ability to allow personal growth and professional creativity is a constraining cycle that intensely inhibits emotional and skill development. That was the unfortunate case for The Empty Mirror, which disbanded after the unveiling of its first album. Despite the grand, contemplative and renegade-inspired messages that are featured on ‘Overwhelm,’ the group collapsed during the making of ‘The Mere.’
But now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of ‘Overwhelm’s distribution, Huling diligently worked to finish the production on the band’s intimate nine-track sophomore effort. The group’s follow-up record was finally released last fall, and proved to be just as stunning, influential and progressive as their debut. Despite the decade-long delay in distribution that occurred in part because of the diminished working collaboration between the musicians, the former band’s frontman powerfully overcame their differences to create an epic, enthralling and captivating album.
For more information on The Empty Mirror, visit their Bandcamp page.