In case you haven’t been following “the Internet,” so to speak, the Michigan-based independent label Count Your Lucky Stars is celebrating its 50th release with a number of awesome promotions, including putting its entire discography up for pay-what-you-want/free download at Bandcamp for a full week. With close to 60+ releases technically under its belt (including various EPs, 7-inches, and splits), I thought I’d give you a starting point for navigating this hefty discography by sharing my favorite/essential CYLS releases.
Brave Bird – Maybe You, No One Else Worth It
I have been waiting for the right opportunity to write about how much I love this album, and I think, finally, this must be the place. I am absolutely the biggest sucker for anything with some variation of the equal parts hyped and hated label of “jangly/twinkly/noodley,” and for a girl that does not enjoy jam bands, I sure do love this current wave of emo bands that somehow tickle the guitar like it is a piano. Color me impressed.
Brave Bird’s Maybe You, No One Else Worth It has that delightfully perplexing quality of the genre: incredible musicianship tucked under unconventionally enticing vocals. If we’re being honest, this band does not have the strongest traditional vocalists, but I’ll be damned if they don’t make it work for them. Every song is catchier than the last and it is primarily because of the intersection of off-kilter wails and gang vocals, plucky guitar riffs, and unquestionably solid drumming. As this formula becomes more common, more of a stand-by, it is bands like Brave Bird, albums like Maybe You, No One Else Worth It that will rise to the top of the pile as a shining example of how carefully arranged dissonance can be the most harmonious sound of all.
Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – What It Takes To Move Forward
Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) is the literal backbone of Count Your Lucky Stars, and the whole purpose of this list, the intention of honoring the label, could not exist without the work of husband-and-wife duo Keith and Cathy Latinen of Empire! Empire!. And yet, this is not a pity mention, not a mention to simply honor the twosome for their more business-end work, because What It Takes To Move Forward is a beautiful record and truly is a “must hear” in the full catalog of the label.
To date, the record is technically Empire! Empire!’s only available full-length, however, this information is mostly irrelevant considering the wide availability of recorded output on 7-inches, EPs and splits. And yet, given its length, it is the best option to showcase the band’s ability to spread its wing, stretch, expand its sound over the course of a full album. I’m a guilty party of the “soaring” variety – using the word far too often for lack of better descriptor, and still, primary vocalist Keith Latinen’s voice is the legitimate perfect example of what I am searching for with the term – gliding over plucky guitar, shifting at the drop of a hat from a delicate near whisper to the strong building of a wail, emphasizing the graceful fragility of the guitar-drum combination throughout.
faraw-y asked: Hi, I'm Lexi & I'm a huge fan of your band. I was recently assigned a project in my computers class to write to my favorite people. I wanted to tell you that you're one of my favorite bands, but you're also one of my favorite bands that I couldn't find an address to use so that I could write.I still wanted to find a way to let you guys know that I love your music c:
Thank you so very much Lexi! We truly appreciate it. Here is the address if you still would like to send us anything:
346 Crestview Ave
Akron, OH 44320
Hope the project is going well and hope to see you around some time. Take care!