Latest posts by Becki Zisk (see all)

Walking into the McMenamins Mission Theater you come to realize this is the perfect venue for Empty Houses to play. Old velour couches line the walls, dim lighting glows through vintage wall scones and an ornate balcony overlooks a pulpit and an expansive main floor.

It’s easy to imagine that you were thrown back into the 1960’s while listening to the soulful female voice vibrating through this historic room.  If you were to close your eyes, you’d think a timeless Motown record was playing (Think Berry Gordy). You could even force yourself to hear the crackle of the recording while spinning around a record player.

You soon remember that it’s 2016 and there is an actual band playing in front of you. The Mission Theater in Portland, Oregon was at almost full capacity for the bands show on June 20.  Vocalist Ali Shea, accompanied by Adam Mercer and David Mackinder of the pop punk band Fireworks, put their talents together to create a new breed of real feel good music. Raw vocals and piano-laced hooks and castanet click vibrated off the walls of the Mission Theater.

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This is the exact talent we need in an industry that is seriously lacking depth and raw talent. The delightful melodies and upbeat vocals makes it hard for one not to smile or want to tap their foot to the beat. What adds to the cheerfulness, is it is clear that these three talented musicians genuinely love what they do. The passion vibrates right off of them.

Ali Shea’s classic vocal style lifts Empty Houses into a sound that could’ve easily fit into Motown acts of the 60s, which is appropriate given that the band is rooted in Detroit. It’s a sound that’s near and dear to their city’s long musical tradition. A sound that gives you a fleeting glimpse of the abandoned blocks, faded facades and ghosts of what was, once upon a time, a city of such passion and vitality.

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The trio just released their debut album for Sargent House, Daydream, on June 10 and it’s obvious that their hard work payed off. It’s 10 tracks of big soulful ballads that sound old and new at the same time. It’s soulful Motown retro-pop done right.

|Images sourced via: Substream Magazine, Noisey.Vice|

|Check out Empty Houses website to purchase Daydreamtwitter, facebook, bandcamp|