Posts Tagged ‘Joseph D’Agostino’

Empty Country is a new project from Cymbals Eat Guitars frontman Joseph D’Agostino, and he just announced that he’ll release his debut album on Tiny Engines in 2020. Ahead of that though, he just shared his debut two-song single, “Ultrasound” / “Jets.” And making it even more exciting, “Ultrasound” features Charles Bissell of The Wrens.

With Cymbals Eat Guitars, Joseph D’Agostino trafficked in indie-minded iterations of classic rock, from epic Built To Spill freakouts to neon Springsteen worship. So it only follows that his new project would plow headfirst into the great wide open. D’Agostino’s debut album as Empty Country plays like a drive through the heartland, except instead of coast to coast it takes you to the 1980s and back. Along the way it connects the dots between “Pink Houses,” Red House Painters, and the houses on all those memorable emo album covers.


The Cymbals Eat Guitars guy has a new project and it sounds like Desparacidos. Well, it doesn’t quite evoke the ire of fifty Kum & Gos, but “Ultrasound” paints with the same sonic palette as Conor Oberst’s snarling anti-consumerist ventilation, blending Joseph D’Agostino’s sludgy garage-punk instrumentation with a vocal performance a few quivers shy of a jorts-clad Oberst. At times it sounds like a demo version of a LOSE-era Cymbals Eat Guitars track, though it mostly feels like a totally new direction for the Philly-based songwriter.

Empty Country “Ultrasound” released at the end of last year on Tiny Engines Joseph D’Agostino, the lead singer/songwriter of Cymbals Eat Guitars, announced his new project Empty Country. Debut Album out on Tiny Engines

This album is nothing less than transcendently beautiful. The heart and soul of everything that made me fall in love with Cymbals Eat Guitars now lives on in the form of Empty Country with new twists and complexities that make EC it’s own clearly unique entity as well. A great transitional document for Joseph D’Agostino as he moves on from Cymbals Eat Guitars (still sad they are over). This album is great in that it’s not a huge departure , yet it is still distinctly D’Agostino’s own thing. It’s got the great melodies and catchy hooks of Cymbals Eat Guitars with that characteristic melancholy. But with more acoustic guitar, Empty Country sounds more personal.

Up there with Joe’s best work, it feels like it pulls from every record he’s done before while still being completely distinct from any Cymbals record in the way it combines the psychedelia and accessibility with some of the lushest, most ornately arranged music I’ve heard. Plus the guitars still rock, the solos fucking slap, and the ballads somehow slap just as hard. The narrative based lyrics also hit a sweet spot in Joe’s lyricism — direct but inventive, descriptive and endlessly compelling.


Empty Country is the first album from Joseph D’Agostino since the dissolution of his other project, Cymbals Eat Guitars, one of the most perennially underappreciated indie-rock bands in recent memory. The album lets D’Agostino’s unique song writing and raspy voice take center stage: The gorgeous “Marion,” for instance, weaves a multigenerational epic through its spacious, slightly shambling indie rock, while “Ultrasound” finds D’Agostino yelping atop a thick wall of guitars and distortion. One of the most straightforward songs on the album is “Becca,” a seemingly jovial acoustic character sketch that tells the somewhat disturbing story of a woman selling fraudulent eclipse glasses to unsuspecting tourists. Empty Country thrives in its simplicity relative to the last few Cymbals albums, getting back to the heart of what makes D’Agostino such a compelling artist.

released March 20th, 2020
Music and lyrics by Joseph D’Agostino

The new solo project of Joseph D’Agostino, formerly of Cymbals Eat Guitars (which broke up in 2017). His self-titled album as Empty Country is due out April 24th via Get Better and this week he shared another song from it, epic six-minute album closer “Swim.”

D’Agostino had this to say about the song in a press release: “SWIM = Someone Who Isn’t Me. It’s a character sketch, as many of the songs on Empty Country are. The narrator is a composite of several people I met or observed while living in Kensington, a neighborhood in Philadelphia gravely affected by the ongoing opioid emergency in the United States. One day my wife Rachel pointed out in passing that some of our neighbors had old faces. She didn’t mean ‘old’ in the sense that they were aging prematurely (though some certainly were), but that they had the faces of Dustbowl-era farmers we had seen in books and films. I began imagining a young man suffering from temporal dysphoria (feeling that one was born into the wrong era and strongly identifying with a bygone time), drinking and otherwise numbing himself to tamp down overwhelming anemoia and sadness. Robbing condos freshly erected in adjoining neighborhoods. Doing harm. Blacking out, driving drunk, hurting those he should love, but simply cannot. Dreaming of leaving forever the bricky mazes of row homes that open into wide empty avenues.”


Released by: Get Better Records

Empty Country was originally due out last week on Tiny Engines, but when that label came under scrutiny due to late royalty payments to Adult Mom and other artists, D’Agostino decided to find a new label and delay the release to April.


The sunburned centerpiece of Cymbals Eat Guitars’ stunning upcoming album, Pretty Years, sees leader Joseph D’Agostino jolted out of his post-tour malaise by a surreal and terrifying Independence Day experience, over tumultuous fuzz-bass and incongruously swinging drums. “Swore I’d be present / And grateful for every second,” D’Agonstino declares at the end of it all, only to admit, “Later the feeling faded / I couldn’t help it.” Holiday weekends never do last as long as you want them to.

At their healthiest as a band, the New Jersey-via-Philly quartet have made one of the best classic-rock records of the 21st century. But will it give them the push that they need? the swinging, stunning centerpiece of Pretty Years, Cymbals’ magnificent fourth album, due out in September. The song, whose new video is premiered below, tells the story of Independence Day 2015 in the City of Brotherly Love, when Joe, Alex, and Sam piled in a friend’s car to go set off some fireworks, without realizing how wasted their driver was. “There were a bunch of cars already there and people were setting off sparklers and roman candles and stuff,” D’Agostino explains before the show, at a nearby Mexican restaurant with bassist Matthew Whipple. “And the person who was driving slammed it over these fireworks displays at very high speed. It was very scary.”


Cymbals Eat Guitars fourth album, Pretty Years, will be released on September 16th, 2016 on Sinderlyn Records.