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The Empty Hearts' 'Second Album' is full of exceptional power pop energy

The second album release by The Empty Hearts glistens with highly charged power pop with a retro feel.
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The Empty Hearts-Second Album

Wicked Cool Records (CD, LP)
4 Stars

This second outing from The Empty Hearts has a wonderful retro feel to it. The 13 tracks, all written by the band, glisten with their influences. The band is comprised of Clem Burke of Blondie on drums, The Cars’ Elliot Easton on lead guitar, Wally Palmar of The Romantics on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and bassist Andy Babiuk of The Chesterfield Kings. Teddy Zig Zag plays keyboards on the tracks. The album was recorded at Babiuk’s Fab Gear Studio in Rochester, NY and was co-produced by Ed Stasium and the band.

Opening track “Coat-Tailer” is highly charged power pop. Palmar gives a good vocal effort and the backing vocals are quite effective, as they are throughout the album, and add a good bit of charm and color to the song. The song features a nice guitar break by Easton and solid drumming from Burke. The band gets a little help from friend and guest musician Ringo Starr on drums in “Remember Days Like These.” It’s a laid-back song with a nice flow to it, and it has a terrific mid-’60s Kinks vibe to it. “Well, Look At You” is a rocker with horns. It’s got a good groove to it and features terrific performances by all four members of the band.

The Yardbirds-sounding “Johnathan Harker’s Journal” is a slow blues track with some really terrific guitar work from Easton. Palmar contributes a good lead vocal and fantastic harmonica playing. “Sometimes Shit Happens For a Reason” has some good keyboards and an excellent guitar break by Easton. Each band member is featured in the rocker “The Best I Can,” which should go over quite well live. “If I Could Change Your Mind” is a nice piece of power pop that contains some excellent harmonica work from Palmar. Burke’s drums are at the forefront of “Come On And Try It,” which also contains some great playing by Easton.

The Beach Boys come to mind when listening to “The World As We Know It Moves On,” particularly because the backing vocals are so prominent. It’s a slower song with a chilled-out vibe. Burke’s impressive drumming is again featured in “The Haunting of the Tin Soldier.” A bluesy stomp with outstanding harmonica and drums, “Death By Insomnia” sounds a bit like early Black Sabbath. “The World’s Gone Insane” is a high-octane rocker with fantastic harmonica by Palmar and is yet another terrific band effort. Acoustic guitar and keyboards are featured at the outset of closing track “Indigo Dusk of the Night.” Easton provides a nice guitar break in the midsection. The last section of the song is very busy, quite psychedelic and is somewhat reminiscent of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”

The band’s love for 1960s rock and power pop is quite evident throughout the album and has resulted in a very enjoyable listen.

—John Curley

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