After Cymbals Eat Guitars quietly went on hiatus, frontman Joseph D’Agostino started the new project Empty Country, released the great two-song single “Ultrasound” / “Jets” (the former of which features Charles Bissell of The Wrens), and revealed he’d be releasing his debut album in 2020. Now, that album has been announced — it’s self-titled and it comes out February 14 via Tiny Engines (pre-order) — and it features “Ultrasound,” as well as the just-released new single “Marian.” Cymbals Eat Guitars are already missed, but going by the Empty Country songs we’ve heard so far, it seems like this album is going to very much fill the void CEG are leaving behind. CEG never made the same album twice, and “Marian” sounds like yet another progression of Joe’s songwriting. It’s warm, jangly indie rock that builds to a climax where Joe shouts his head off like he did on CEG’s most intense songs, while backed by some ethereal harmonies. It’s very cool stuff and you can listen below.
Joe wrote, arranged, and produced the Empty Country album himself, with co-production and engineering by Kyle Gilbride of Swearin’. In addition to Charles Bissell, other contributors include Rachel Browne of Field Mouse (who Joe is married to) and Rachel’s sister/bandmate Zoë on backup vocals, Cymbals Eat Guitars drummer Anne Dole, Anne’s brother Pat on bass, and Zena Kay on pedal steel.
Joe also talked to Billboard about Cymbals Eat Guitar’s quiet demise:
“We wanted to quietly deep-six it,” D’Agostino explains two years later. “We could have told everybody that our December 2017 shows were gonna be our final shows, but — I dunno. It just seemed a little gaudy to do so. We were never people to draw attention to ourselves in that way.”
Causes of the breakup included deep exhaustion with touring, bassist Matt Whipple’s decision to return to school for interior design, and a brooding sense that — despite consistent acclaim and a committed cadre of fans — “there was nowhere else for us to go.” During that grueling final year, the band toured with alt-rock legends the Pixies, “which was just crazy — like, dream scenario stuff,” the singer says. “And then we went back to the same cities that we played with Pixies in to headline, three months later. And nobody came.”
You can read the rest of the interview here.