American musician Joseph D'Agostino, known for his work with Cymbals Eat Guitars, is back with his project Empty Country and the announcement of their second album, Empty Country II. The album is set to be released on November 3rd via Get Better Records (US) and Tough Love Records (UK). To celebrate the announcement, the band has shared the latest single, "Erlking," accompanied by a music video.
D'Agostino is no stranger to sprawling, intricate arrangements, as showcased in his acclaimed work with Cymbals Eat Guitars. However, "Erlking" sees him embracing a more concise and direct approach. In just three minutes, the song delivers a powerful statement about the unraveling of America in the face of gun violence and political corruption. This track serves as a contrast to the larger epics that anchor Empty Country II.
D'Agostino drew inspiration for "Erlking" from Goethe's famous poem of the same name, which depicts the death of a child pursued by a supernatural being. While written on the day of the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, the "20 kids" mentioned in the song's lyrics refer to the children of the Sandy Hook tragedy. In the dystopian version of America portrayed in Empty Country II, "Erlkings" are otherworldly demons that haunt the innocent and influence the minds of men. These entities have lifespans spanning eons, perceiving the pernicious history of our country as brief as a musical prelude or a commercial jingle. "Erlking" packs a punch in just one verse and thirteen bars, likening its impact to that of fifty collapsing stars.
Earlier in the summer, Empty Country released the first single from the upcoming album, titled "Pearl." Alongside the single came a captivating music video edited and shot by Zoë Browne and an additional audio story called "Basilisk, or: Pearl Practices Guitar and Hallucinates the Future" narrated by D'Agostino.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the release of Empty Country II on November 3rd through Get Better Records (US) and Tough Love Records (UK).
Empty Country II, the project’s second full-length for L.A.-based Get Better Records, is a thrilling expansion of that world. D’Agostino pushed himself to new places as a songwriter, crafting a collection of short stories set to music which grapple with the biggest questions now hanging over America — gun violence, the addiction epidemic, and generational hopelessness among them. In 2020, he’d moved from Philadelphia to small-town New England to be closer to family, and his new locale coupled with the dread of lockdown inspired him to return to the haunted world from the first LP.
“It’s pretty jarring to leave a city—where you can safely assume you’re aligned with your neighbors on many political and social issues — for somewhere more rural and conservative,”says D’Agostino, noting the Trump flags and Blue Lives Matter hood wraps that dot his new dirt road residence. Across the new album’s nine tracks, D’Agostino introduces us to a bevy of characters: three generations of West Virginia clairvoyants, crushed by the weight of their secret knowledge; a group of drag queens and misfits in early ‘80s New York City; a pill mill doctor’s daughter who dabbles in necromancy; a convicted killer; a bullied kid injured and alone in the forest as night falls. Through the stories of these characters, Empty Country II delivers an engaging and deeply moving rumination on time, family, and the disintegration of America.