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The Emperors of Wyoming - The Emperors of Wyoming
Buy The Emperors of Wyoming


LABEL: Proper Records/Hillbilly Digital
RELEASE DATE: Available Now
FORMATS: CD / Digital

Band Members

Phil Davis: Lead Vocals, Guitars
Butch Vig: Drums, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Pete Anderson: Bass, Guitars, Vocals
Frank Anderson: Lead Guitar, Pedal Steel, Lap Steel, Accordion, Banjo


Sometimes things just happen for a reason even if it takes 30 years. Case in point, The Emperors of Wyoming.

The story starts in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1970s.

The four Emperors – Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Franklin Lee and Peter Anderson – are playing in two different bands. They all know each other, but for one reason or another never join forces as a four-piece. By 1980, as things will have it, they all go their separate ways.

The Andersons move out to California and form San Francisco Bay area must-see, Call Me Bwana. Davis moves to and then back from L.A. and ultimately hooks up with Vig to form Fire Town, a celebrated pop-rock quartet that writes and records two critically-acclaimed records for Atlantic Records and is named Rolling Stone’s ‘Hot Band’ for 1987. But by the early 1990s Davis starts a long hiatus from music to raise a family while Vig starts a long run of making rock history: producing Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream, Sonic Youth’s Dirty, and eventually creating Garbage, a multi-platinum international rock act. Meanwhile, Pete Anderson is running a couple businesses, blending wines in Napa, and playing music in northern California while brother Franklin Lee moves back to Wisconsin, directs films like The Life of Reilly, writes a book and plays his custom lap steels.

Fast forward to January 2009.

Davis, a singer and songwriter, is talking to old band mate guitarist Frank Anderson, "Hey, let’s make a country-rock record. A folk-rock record." Frank goes, "Great idea, let’s go!" Brother Pete goes, "I’m in on bass." And Vig, living in L.A., just coming off a two-year stint producing Green Day goes, “Cool. Need some drums and stuff?” So there you have it. Back together again, for the first time. Only problem is, now the band members live in four different cities in two different states. No matter. Times have changed. All four have home studios.

And so in 2011, two years later, through emailing ideas, songs, riffs, demos and mixes the Emperors of Wyoming is born and their masterful, eponymous debut, The Emperors of Wyoming, arrives. Under normal circumstances, that kind of distance and separation would be impossible. But of course, the Emperors all knew each from way back when, were old friends, and had played together in various combinations. So, no problem! In fact, this recording approach felt entirely natural and if anything brought them closer together, making the music even more distinctive and original. The result is an amazingly timeless debut record of American country folk-rock that bridges new and old, cutting edge technology and ancient instruments, spaghetti western, country-and-western, bluegrass, surf-rock, acoustic folk, hard rock, pop-metal, and pop-rock into a brand new American sound. A 10-song record with no filler, no gaps, that satisfies from the first track to the last. Yeah, it did take a long time to get here, but the Emperors of Wyoming wouldn’t have it any other way.


September 19th 2012. By Alan Harrison for nodepression.com

Sweeping panoramic Alt-Country for the nu-generation

I’ll get the ‘elephant in the room’ out of the way at the beginning; The Emperors of Wyoming are legendary record producer, Butch Vig’s new band (hobby) and I’m sure you already know, it was Vig who produced Nirvana’s NEVERMIND album in 1991 and subsequently a host of other post-Punk albums that have won him a mass of awards.

None of which suggested that he had an album like this up his sleeve. After listening to the album over the course of two weeks it’s apparent that Vig loves Alt-Country in all its formats as several key influences creep into the sound; but nothing that’s too overbearing.

The Bittersweet Sound of Goodbye starts with a cool acoustic intro and Phil Davis’ adenoidal voice carries the song along a well worn path; but is as good an album opener as I’ve heard this year.

Never Got Over is no ordinary ‘lost my best Gal’ love song; because a pump organ that sounds like a wheezing heart and Vig’s intensely tight drumming makes it sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before (in a good way).

Although it’s another ‘broken hearted love song’ I particularly like Brand New Heart of Stone as it’s quite angry and a lot darker than I’d expected and best played LOUD.

The oddest track on the album and therefore a furrow I’d have liked them to experiment more with is John Martyn’s Bless the Weather which sounds as good as anything that Neil Young and Crazy Horse ever recorded together.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the album and heartily recommend it to you; especially if you are new to Alt-Country and Americana music; but (there’s always a but); because Vig has been at the top of his game for 20 or more years the production values throughout are outstanding with every instrument and voice sounding absolutely perfect; which is why I’ve (sadly) taken half a point away from the overall mark. For me; and I could be wrong here, Alt-Country bands and the best in Country-Rock always sound best when they are a bit ragged around the edges and; well…..The Emperors of Wyoming band (and album) are simply too squeaky clean for my liking.

Again; there’s nothing wrong with using the Eagles and Tom Petty as astarting point if the Emperors of Wyoming were a young band just starting out; but with all of their combined experience I’d have hoped for something deeper and more interesting; rather than every track sounding as if it was made on the say-so of an Alt-Country Marketing consultant who knows how to get this type of music onto AOR Radio.

September 16th 2012. By RingMaster for ringmasterreviewintroduces

Though the sounds which make the debut self titled album from Emperors Of Wyoming a release sure to ignite a multitude of hearts, they are not generally those which feed our personal passions but it is impossible not to be impressed and persuaded by the wealth of invention and inciteful songwriting enclosed. The ten songs of Americana, country and folk rock which call out from within the Wild West cloaked release, are heart borne slices of organic and distinctive sounds, the album itself one to evoke satisfaction and instinctive joy.

Emperors Of Wyoming consists of Wisconsin musicians, brothers Frank and Pete Anderson, Phil Davis, and Butch Vig, four artists who all played in Madison bands in the seventies and eighties, sometimes together though never as a foursome. All are men with a friendship between them which time had no erosive power upon. Vig, who went on to be one of the most influential producers as well as the drummer in Garbage, played in a band with Phil called First Person before the pair began Fire Town, a band with similar elements to The Emperors Of Wyoming and went on to release two albums with Atlantic Records. The other members also had their important entrants in the Wisconsin scene but most importantly the friendship between the four never faded after they went their separate ways in life. 2009 saw them all come together with the idea of starting a new folk/country rock/band. They took their time to write and create the album, with all men using the internet to share their individual instruments, parts, and ideas with Frank Anderson as the hub. It has to be said listening to the songs one would never have the suggestion of this background to the recording in their minds, the sound a tight and cohesive presence in the ear.

Released through Proper Records, the album opens with the emotive The Bittersweet Sound Of Goodbye and instantly the album offers a natural breath which carries the essences of Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and to a lesser extent Bob Dylan. It has its own unique voice though with engages from the first song with its whispered passion and concise play through to the final track of the album.

Next up Avalanche Girl is a stroll of jangling guitars and the Midwestern sensibility which pervades the whole release. It is a warm and melodic piece of country pop which easily slips through the ear with an infectious gait to its classy walk.

The Stones like I’m Your Man with its southern twang, the Traveling Wilburys toned Cornfield Palace, and Brand New Heart Of Stone, a resonating song with a Neil Young whispering, all treat the ear and emotions to skilfully crafted and heated slices of classic America. They are songs with a mesmeric quality without being overly infectious but sure to light up smiles on all who relish americana and country rock at its best.

Of all the songs the excellent Cruel Love Ways had these resistant intentions wrapped up in blissful satisfaction with its vibrant heart and rock energy. A song to easily lose oneself within, it is the best track on the album and one which blends the classic aspects of the release with a modern thrust.

Ending with two covers, the first a reworking of the traditional Wisconsin river ballad The Pinery Boy and the other a version of the John Martyn track Bless The Weather, the album is a sure fire heart pleaser for all with an americana and country rock passion, and to be honest it even had moments which had these muscular preferring preferences feeling nothing but enjoyment.

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