Strangely enough, minimalist pop can sound pretty maxed-out, and that’s the case with the New Orleans sextet Empress Hotel. The group came together last year out of various Crescent City groups who seemed intent on combining the disparate styles of such quasi-pop aggregations as Tortoise and Steely Dan. Guitarist Ryan Rogers had done time in Antenna Inn, who skillfully combined the jazzy lope of Tortoise circa TNT with Donald Fagen-style irony. Vocalist Micah McKee had worked with Silent Cinema, a band with a similar slant. Empress Hotel’s languid harmonies, cheesy keyboard ostinatos and foursquare rhythms dispense with jazzy overtones altogether — such tunes as “Bells Ring” and “Mach Bach” suggest a fusion of Sparks and The Beach Boys around the time of Wild Honey. Their music is cute and minimalist without sacrificing density — minimalism maximized for optimum effect. Expect a self-titled debut EP in March.
If you like rhythm 'n' balloons, check out the band's video for "Mach Bach" over at Paste.