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July 2014
Skull Practitioners
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Where the genre of “psych rock” will usually refer to “psychedelic rock,” Skull Practitioners take it to a level where the meaning “psychosis rock” would be more appropriate, hurling harsh guitar tones and thumping bass haunts, along with an avalanche of drum fills, into a whirlwind of amplified delirium. The NYC trio produces a heavier and more diverse wall of sound than most five-piece bands out there, swelling and punching up and down scales and arpeggios, blasting through fuzz and decay, resulting in a bleakly intense look into a mind lost. With different vocalists featured on various tracks, it might be difficult to discern an established frontman, but does it matter? The sounds coming from Jason Victor and Ken Levine’s amps, back Alex Baker’s drums are the huge focus here. – JP Basileo

 

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Zula
genre benders with hope
by: Sam Kogon date:May 16, 2014 - MORE
Shilpa Ray
finding beauty within darkness
by: John McGovern date:April 25, 2014 - MORE
Baby Alpaca
by: Bianca Seidman date:April 25, 2014 - MORE
Erin Barra
blue eyed technocrat
by: Bianca Seidman date:April 18, 2014 - MORE
The 60's
Bob Dylan

Simon and Garfunkel

Velvet Underground
The 70's
Television
Patti Smith
The New York Dolls

The Ramones

The Talking Heads
Richard Hell
The Dead Boys
Blondie
Suicide
Lydia Lunch
DNA  
Mars
The Contortions  
The 80's
Sonic Youth
Bad Brains
Beastie Boys
Bruce Springsteen
Swans
The Feelies
Laurie Anderson
They Might Be Giants
John Zorn
Arto Lindsay
Sonic Youth
The Fleshtones
The 90's

Jeff Buckley

The Magnetic Fields
Yo La Tengo
Soul Coughing
Cat Power
The 00's
The Strokes
Interpol
TV on The Radio
Fiery Furnaces
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Bravery
Animal Collective
Bright Eyes
Devendra Banhart
Moldy Peaches
Le Tigre
Liars
Blonde Redhead
Grizzly Bear
 

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Album review: Claire and the Crowded Stage - Kamikaze

Sometimes a gimmick can trample upon the art. We have all seen it. Some band who may or may not be creating something special, only to let it take a firm back seat to a schtick. Perhaps it is an elaborate super shiny multimedia extravaganza. It might come in the form of a five-person, multi-tuned cowbell section and/or audio samples from Dr. Strangelove. These are the kinds of bands that leave the soundman sorely exclaiming, “How many mics and DIs do you need again?” before sulking off and muttering under his breath a filthy slew of words only known to the hardiest of sailors.
 
With a live set up that features up to double-digit members playing various strings, percussion and woodwinds, it would be easy for Claire and the Crowded Stage to suffer this pitfall. Thankfully, on the new album Kamikaze, the band shows masterful control of how to question the integrity of a stage’s weight limit in a way that is truly synergistic to a great whole.
 
The range of tones and sounds featured throughout make it almost unclassifiable, a truly wonderful sideshow of pop music. Kudos to the arranger (and sound engineer) for creating a roadmap and space for each part to shine in just the right way. The instrumentation is woven with a delicate and deft touch. At any given time, the listener can focus upon any of the various elements and clearly decipher what dish it brings to the dinner table. It is a symphony of rock music, like a progressive new high school band teacher fresh out of grad school choosing to close his first spring concert with a version of “Helter Skelter.”
 
At times, it is almost a rock music bait-and-switch. During the proggy break in “Songbird,” the usual scathing guitar takes a back seat in the rhythm section to let the clarinet champion the solo with splitting vigor. The single reed’s moment in the spotlight works especially well in tandem when it returns to its more traditional floaty place on the following “Night Owls,” whose side-to-side head bob groove sounds like the perfect sound track for a Tootsie Roll pop commercial. Extra points for the delightfully arbitrary reprise outro.
 
Other strong moments include the Avett Brothers-go-to-Disneyland sounds of “Tower of Babel” and the prohibition jazz speakeasy slice of noir in “Technicolor.” “I Saw it All” is perhaps the best use of the symphony style arrangement on the record, growing from simple ukulele to full orchestra pit and back again. “The Nightside of Day” finishes off the record as a delightful denouement with joyful-sounding, yet stormily-themed sock hop flair.
 
Fronting this well-oiled juggernaut is the powerfully voiced Claire Adams. Her affected vocal stylings pierce the ear in a beautiful misfit manner, ranging from a very airy and playful Regina Spektor to the soulful belt of Neko Case. Much like the success shown by the orchestra beneath her, she shows great discretion on when to play the sweet little skipping girl with cartoon hearts in her eyes and when to let fly the tortured, broken soul inside. The often-paired harmony vocals add a further power and intrigue in all the right spots.
 
As if it needed yet even another cylinder to fire upon, the lyrics are often nothing short of poetry. Lines such as:
 
Oh, I’m a boat of awkward, sinking in the shifting waters of our chemistry (from “Kamikaze”)
 
It's been a long grey time, rhymes in red, blue and yellow fighting to flash well, nobody's talking trash just pass the hat 'til someone steps up to bat sayin' I know something you don't know  (from “Technicolor”)
 
I watched the sun it rose, standing on my tiptoes to catch the moment when the day broke in halves as people live straining to love and give, it's just another tower of babel falling (from “Tower of Babel”)
 
… are just a few examples of the impactful wordsmithing flexed throughout.
 
All put together, it ends up being one damn fine record that should definitely be added to your collection. Having been fortunate enough to catch Claire and the Crowded Stage a few times in various haunts, the live show is equally as impressive. Make sure you check it out and get your own copy of Kamikaze.
 
--Zach Hodson
 
Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings begins production. He is also in Dolls on Fire,Drew Black & Dirty Electric, and Riot Riot Riot, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.
 
Claire and the Crowded Stage will be commandeering the recordBar stage this Saturday, July 26, to celebrate the release of Kamikaze. Ali Holder & Christy Hays and Bearing Torches will open the show at 10 pm. Facebook event page.
 

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Album review: The Oldfield Victory - A Thousand Doors (EP)

Once upon a time, as many a story begins, there was a legendary beast that trod upon this great land. Across mountains and over rivers (wait, across rivers and over mountains; yeah, that’s it), all bowed before its grandeur and omnipresence … particularly human males between the ages of 18 and 34. What was the name of this benevolent and decadent entity, you ask?

Rock and roll.
 
Back in the ‘70s, when FM radio was becoming more of a force and big rock bands were strewn all across the dial, there was a particular guitar sound that dominated the airwaves: monstrous chord structures and tight riffs that had that the perfect combination of strum and crunch and buzz. There’s probably a better way to describe them, or even to explain how they were created, but you’d probably have to be a guitar player to do so—and since I am not, I must use words like “strum” and “crunch” and “buzz” to get my point across. An even better way to understand said point, however, would be to listen to the music of The Oldfield Victory, a newly-minted band that has recently released its newly-minted EP debut, A Thousand Doors.
 
This formidable foursome (Jon Freeman - vocals and guitar; Paul Hagedorn - lead guitar; Dave Tanner - bass and backing vocals; and Casey Wallace - drums) wastes no time getting down to business; “Wrecking Ball” is fast, loud, and has a nasty snarl, as all good rock ‘n roll should be. The EP’s title track is an instant audio time machine that takes the listener back to 1976, when The Oldfield Victory could easily have shared the Kemper Arena stage with Sammy Hagar, Triumph, Judas Priest, Spinal Tap, or any of the other legends of the day. The rest of A Thousand Doors, particularly “Built for Speed” and “She Disappears,” continues down that path, filled with the big drums, fat-bottom bass, razor-sharp guitar leads, and raucous vocal blends that made music fans from back in the day gas up their Camaros* and head to Sandstone or Arrowhead Stadium to KY102’s latest SummerJam.
 
Sometimes music does more than simply entertain—sometimes it just makes you feel like things are right in the world. This six-track EP hearkens to a time when rock was king, with willing subjects from coast to coast. Count me in as one of them, then and now. Long live The Oldfield Victory.
 
*author’s note: I did not have a Camaro back in those days. I had a Pinto. Not exactly the same thing … especially to the ladies. Awwww nooooooo.
 
--Michael Byars
 
Michael is fooling you—he probably had the coolest Pinto on the block. And $240 worth of pudding. Awwww yeah.
 
 

The Oldfield Victory has a big rock show planned this Friday, July 25, at The Scene KC Rock Bar in Independence, with Federation of Horsepower, The Heroine (San Antonio), and Bad Wheels. Check it out, and bring earplugs. Facebook event page. 

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Album review: Attic Wolves - Volume and Boldness (EP)

An introduction made by a banjo at one point in time may have thrown listeners off. But with the recent revival of the rootsy instruments in mainstream music, the banjo has become just as welcome as the drum kit. Kansas City’s Attic Wolves have taken all of the soul from roots music and molded it into their own brand of powerful and emotional folk. Attic Wolves hold the title of The Pitch’s Best Local Album of 2012 (their debut EP, Carry Us On) and now, Volume and Boldness is every bit as good.
 
Channeling all that soul that is carried in folk tunes, Attic Wolves hit the listener with “Here’s To Looking Back.” A catchy guitar ditty and smooth, mellow vocals serenade the listener. A story of sorts about two people growing close, then falling apart. The song explores how people change and how life is never constant. Though the message is a bit melancholy, the song finishes strong with a positive spin; the old mantra “so it goes” is in full effect.
 
Volume and Boldness is comprised of five tracks that completely blow you away not only in the sense of the musical composition, but the lyrical heaviness as well; an album to help heal the hurt heart. “Safe and Sound” explores unconditional love. “It’s Not Over” deals with the things in life that are out of human hands. “Leave Me Be” is a heartbreak and a half of a song. The outro song, “I Know Who You Love,” looks into unwanted love from one party to the next, and again, the songs hints that everything will be okay.
 
The album title is taken from the band’s personal traits, explained in its bio: “[It] reflects what we believe is required of us as a band in order to succeed. Volume and Boldness is our way of doing business.” That statement is ever so true. All the listener has to do is dissect the lyrics to understand.
 
--Steven Ervay
 
Steven is an all-around awesome dude who works tirelessly for the KC music community.
 
Editor’s note: Volume & Boldness was recorded at Mammoth Cave Recording Studio in Denver, produced by Tim Gerak.
 
 

Attic Wolves will celebrate the release of Volume and Boldness with a party at Czar Bar this Monday, July 21. Akkilles and The Papers (Chicago) will also be playing. Tickets are $5 presale or $7 at the door, 21+. Ticket link. Facebook event page. 

 

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Album review: Jorge Arana Trio - OSO (EP)

In some way, cognizant or not, we all have a sense of rhythm and melody. A sense of timing and movement. Syncopated patterns and angular guitar lines run amok on the latest release by Jorge Arana Trio, OSO. The rhythms and melodies are complex while still maintaining a sense of empathy. I find myself dissecting each song, counting and searching for the root, which inevitably changes right when I think I've found it.
 
While you might not find this trio in the more frequented jazz houses of Kansas City, you will find them in every other venue—including house parties and DIY clubs, maintaining a level of energy and expertise leading whatever room they occupy.
 
OSO opens with a wacky, groovy, psychedelic track called "Foredoom" that illustrates the extent to which the trio can roam. "Kallisto" reminds me of music I might hear at a late-night club in the basement of an abandoned building. Aggressive, but still retains a sense of true jazz musicianship and syncopation. On this track, the trio locks into some deep grooves. It's short and sweet and gets right to the point. 
 
"Crime of Passion Fruit" amazes me how it rolls over half step variations and moves in quick succession. Let the reverb reign! 
 
"Old Bamboo" keeps the energy rolling with surfesque lead lines by Arana, while drummer Josh Enyart and bassist Jason Nash tear through patterns and rhythms without missing a beat (literally). 
 
"Banished to Siberia" is my favorite of the five-track EP. This song, to me, exemplifies the trio's expertise in experimental/psychedelic/jazz rock. If this song where a dish, it would be some kind of unique soup that has healing powers only served to the bravest of eaters. I feel cleansed of all things boring and/or monotonous after hearing this track.
 
Jorge Arana Trio has proven through relentless live shows, and most recently on OSO, that experimentation and writing outside the box is something we can all relate to. Please indulge in this release. You will not be disappointed and will surely expand your groovy senses.
 
OSO was engineered by Joel Nanos and Vincent Lawhon, and mixed/mastered by Nanos at Element Recording. The album has been released by Haymaker Records.
 
 
 
Make sure to show some love by attending their record release show this Saturday, July 19, at recordBar with David Hasselhoff on Acid, In the Shadow, and High MagicFacebook event page.
 
--Josh Simcosky
 

Josh is a KC native that loves anything meat- or tube-driven related. He also plays guitar for Leering Heathens and Sharp Weapons. 

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Album review: Fake Fancy - New People (EP)

Self-described as “a boy and a girl that met over their mutual love for hardcore evangelical conservative beliefs and tequila shots,” an admittedly tongue-buried-firmly-in-cheek wry ironic smile weaves itself in and out of the tracks that make up the new EP from Fake Fancy, entitled New People.

 
At its core, this is two-person, boy-meets-girl lo-fi garage pop, reminiscent of Kansas City area darlings Schwervon!, only featuring a much more prevalent electronic edge. The lazy comparisons of The Black Keys or The White Stripes could certainly be applicable as well, but there is a deeper range of tone and darkness that deserves being mentioned here. A real separation from those two aforementioned duos comes from the wholesome balance established between the melancholy David Byrne vocal stylings of John Elijah against the more pure and sunshiny Sheryl Crow sound of Katie Vah. Coupled with the witty and elevated lyrical prowess, Fake Fancy rises above being “just another two-piece indie rock band.”
 
The EP has a multiple personality disorder in the best of ways, featuring a stirring amount of variance amongst six songs that come in at a total of eleven minutes. The sweet afternoon breeze strains of “If A Man Made A Machine” and “Summer Hours” provide trancelike respites from the more avant-garde, chaotic moments in “I Have A Drum Machine” and “Mild Violence.” “We Hold Hands” and “Aqua Teen” show Fake Fancy at its best, with head-bobbing beats, tight harmonies, and accessible yet charmingly odd instrumentation firing on all cylinders.
 
Overall, this is a tidy little slice of pop music. With a sonic landscape that effortlessly bounces from Downy fresh to the kind of sticky grime you find in an old broken down engine block, Fake Fancy makes no efforts to pigeon hole itself into one kind of sound.
 
--Zach Hodson
 
Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings begins production. He is also in Dolls on FireDrew Black & Dirty Electric, and Riot Riot Riot, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.
 
Fake Fancy will be on KKFI 90.1 FM tonight, on High Voltage Rock N’ Roll Radio Show to release the album at midnight. The band will be playing at Jackpot Music Hall on Thursday, July 31, with 2twenty2, Little Time Off, and Onward to Glory!. Check them out.
 
 
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Summer 2014. NYC Issue #39
(10 Year Anniversary!)
Read it here


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