Smile Empty Soul is a hard rock trio that originated in Los Angeles, CA in the late 1990’s and has stayed true to their brand of “no bullshit”, “real as it gets” hard rock to this day.
The alternative/grunge rock group is due to release its first ever compilation album Rarities on March 10th. This album features a collection of songs recorded over the course of their careers that haven’t officially been released before now.
I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek of the album before it hits the public in the next few days. I must admit, as a longtime fan of the group, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard through my headphones.
Knowing the band and their unique blend of grunge rock and acoustic guitars, I had a pretty good idea what to expect. The opening track “One at a Time” is the epitome of a Smile Empty Soul song. The song starts out with a neat electric rhythm guitar and eventually blends vocals from Sean Danielsen and what is a beautiful bass line. The song eventually picks up and hits hard during the first round of the chorus.
“Something New” was originally a demo for the group but is finally being released to the world in all its glory. The song has a pretty cool almost non-breakdown breakdown segment towards the end that I really enjoyed. Following up “Something New”, is “Alone”, which really shows off the group’s acoustic side. This track really gave me goosebumps when listening to it, it might be my modern-day replacement for “Silhouettes” track. It is just a sad song to the core, but the lyrics are definitely relatable to anyone who has gone or going through tough times.
“Goodbye” has almost a punk undertone to it. It gets started right off the bat and doesn’t leave the listener waiting. It is a good follow up to “Alone”.
Probably my absolute favorite track on the entire album has to be “This is War”. Now most Smile Empty Soul fans know this song, but not this version. I had to listen to it a few times to really understand what was different. The new version of the track just sounded, how do I say it, natural. Almost like this was the version that was supposed to be released. But to those of you who want to know why this version is so different, it is a full-band version. The original only featured mostly acoustic and string instruments. This new version incorporates the entire band.
It’s hard to follow up such an iconic and well known song from the group but the group hit another home run by featuring another demo “Wasted Town”. The song starts off a bit slow but really picks up in the chorus and delivers that “oh so grungy” sound that fans have come to love. “What’s Going Through My Head”, is another track from the group that has almost punk approach with Sean’s raspy and unapologetic sound.
Another familiar track to Smile Empty Soul fans is the track “For You”. Of course, the guys wouldn’t just re-release any version of a well-known song. The group decided to throw in a purely acoustic version that was recorded live.
I am not sure if I am the only one who knows this next track, but it is nice to hear “Who I Am” on an actual Smile Empty Soul album. The original track was released on the Spider Man 2 album and never had a traditional release like many of the other tracks on this compilation album. The same goes for the track “Finding Myself”, this track never had a typical release since it was featured on the soundtrack for The Punisher.
Rounding out what is, in my opinion, the most exciting release from the group is a series of cover songs that the band has performed over the years. These include, “Precious Things” by Tori Amos, “Aneurysm” by Nirvana, and “Possession” by Sarah McLachlan.
With their eighth album on the way, and a 2017 calendar full of tour dates, Smile Empty Soul seems to be as strong as ever, and further cementing themselves as one of the hardest working rock bands in existence.
- One at a Time
- Something New
- This is War
- Wasted Town
- What’s Going Through My Head Right Now
- For You
- Who I Am
- Finding Myself
- Precious Things (Tori Amos Cover)
- Aneurysm (Nirvana Cover)
13. Possession (Sarah McLachlan Cover)