10 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In their official bio, the members of Emperors say they’re unlikely to become Pitchfork darlings because they’re "stuck in their own bubble of musical influences.” But judging by their 2012 debut album, Stay Frosty, it’s obvious that a.) they’re selling themselves short, and b.) they have an awesome bubble of influences. The opening song, “Be Ready When I Say Go,” blends the best of '90s noise-rock into one song. Over big fuzzy walls of guitar distortion reminiscent of Sebadoh’s louder moments, Adam Livingston sings like a young Doug Martsch. Then, squiggly guitar leads recall Thurston Moore attacking his fretboard with a drumstick while his left foot convulses over a wah-wah pedal. “Song of the Year” sounds somewhat like Superchunk with slightly tamed guitar feedback, winding chords, and Livingston laying into nasal inflections like Mac McCaughan. With bass player Zoe Worrall-James piping in on “Plastic Guns,” the song rocks out like a heavier Velocity Girl. But the chemistry between Livingston and Worrall-James gives Emperors an excitement and tension that’s entirely their own.

EDITORS’ NOTES

In their official bio, the members of Emperors say they’re unlikely to become Pitchfork darlings because they’re "stuck in their own bubble of musical influences.” But judging by their 2012 debut album, Stay Frosty, it’s obvious that a.) they’re selling themselves short, and b.) they have an awesome bubble of influences. The opening song, “Be Ready When I Say Go,” blends the best of '90s noise-rock into one song. Over big fuzzy walls of guitar distortion reminiscent of Sebadoh’s louder moments, Adam Livingston sings like a young Doug Martsch. Then, squiggly guitar leads recall Thurston Moore attacking his fretboard with a drumstick while his left foot convulses over a wah-wah pedal. “Song of the Year” sounds somewhat like Superchunk with slightly tamed guitar feedback, winding chords, and Livingston laying into nasal inflections like Mac McCaughan. With bass player Zoe Worrall-James piping in on “Plastic Guns,” the song rocks out like a heavier Velocity Girl. But the chemistry between Livingston and Worrall-James gives Emperors an excitement and tension that’s entirely their own.

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3:00
3:11
2:43
3:19
4:40
2:41
2:59
3:47
3:42

About Emperors

Soul combo the Emperors formed in Harrisburg, PA, in the early '60s, comprised of James Jackson, Donald Brantley, Bobby Fulton, Billy Green, and David Peterson. According to e-zine Funky 16 Corners, the group was discovered by producer Phil Gaber, whose Impact Sound studio was the birthplace of their debut single, 1966's "Karate"; released on the Mala label, the record was one of several karate-themed dance discs issued that year, boasting a wild, frenetic sound suggesting an unholy marriage of soul and garage rock. "Karate" cracked the national R&B Top 30 and soared as high as number 55 on the pop charts, and the Emperors quickly returned to Impact Sound to cut the follow-up, a similarly energetic reading of Don Gardner's "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo." The single failed to match the success of its predecessor, however, and after one more Mala effort -- 1967's "Searchin'" -- the Emperors signed with Brunswick for "Karate Boogaloo," issued that same year. After Fulton left the group to found his own label, Soulville, the remaining lineup rechristened themselves Emperors Soul 69 for one final single, "Bring Out Yourself," recorded for Futura. In 2002 the Philly Music Archives label collected all of the Emperors' original recordings on CD. ~ Jason Ankeny

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