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Kansas City music

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Album review: American Dischord - Songs for Sinners

(Photo by Keith Johnson)
 
“I don’t need your forgiveness for my goddamned sins.”
 
American Dischord shoves its collective middle finger up your pretentious ass with a new LP entitled Songs for Sinners. Self-described as “hard-hitting rock ‘n roll straight for the bowels of Hell currently claiming Kansas City as our promised land,” this “punk and soul” trio blazes through seven tracks of cataclysmic punk rock in just under fifteen minutes.
 
AMDX runs the punk rock playbook to a high level, reminiscent of The Misfits, NOFX, and Rancid, amongst others. The lyrics are fuming, often political, and so far up your grill they’re ripping out molars. Urging you to “sing, sing, sing all you sinners!” in a song of the same name, the scream-sung vocals tow a perfect line of grating attitude and sing-along sensibility, not unlike the harder moments of The Offspring’s catalogue.
 
Musically, it is delightfully more than just your typical three-chord punk slop. AMDX plays with structure and whips out just enough song tricks to keep the two-minute punk anthems from sounding all the same. The trio of musicians makes the style of music they play work for them, with individual playing that gets spastic and free in all the right spots, but never seems superfluous.
 
The anchor of these two-minute pressure cookers is the epic-by-comparison three-and-a-half minute “Op Rev.” One of the more furious and politically themed songs on the record, AMDX parallels off the old tried-and-true Gunpowder Treason story, commanding anarchy and a rise against the bullshit that lives in our news feeds every day.

All put together, you listen over and over again as you pound your steering wheel or keyboard along with fervor. Of late, the band has been regionally playing all over the place. If bashing your pompous neighbor’s face open with a can of whatever beer was cheapest that day is your thing, check out American Dischord.
 
--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.
 
 

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Too Much Rock Singles Series Vol 3: Josh Berwanger Band - Oh Bis!

Josh Berwanger Band gets us ready for summer with a new single release as part of the Too Much Rock Single Series. The series—curated by Sid Sowder—has local bands doing one side with an original song and one side with a cover song chosen by the band. Berwanger's single is the third volume in the series (the first two by Schwervon! and Rev Gusto).
 
The A-side is a Berwanger song called "Oh Bis!" to which he helpfully adds a spoken word postscript explaining the origin of the song. The song itself hearkens back to ‘80s power pop and chugs along with some subtle changes in the rhythm. It's a classic "Woe is me" teen angst song and sounds great in the car with the windows down. The B-side is a cover of an obscure 1979 single by The Jags, which sounds like a great lost early Elvis Costello rocker. Its infectious chorus of "I've got your number / written on the back of my hand" complete with handclaps is impossible not to like.
 
I'm a fan of their recent album Strange Stains. To my ears, this is the best local pure power pop band out there now. Get 'em while you can. These 45s are limited editions. 
 
--Barry Lee
 
Barry is host of Signal To Noise, which airs on KKFI 90.1 FM every Sunday at 8 pm. He spends his weekdays being station manager of KKFI.
 
 

You can see Josh Berwanger Band this weekend at Boulevardia, in the West Bottoms. They play at 6:15 p.m. on the Chipotle Homegrown stage. Facebook event page. They’ll also be playing Lawrence Field Day Fest on June 28 at The Bottleneck at 11:00 p.m. Also, watch for Too Much Rock’s fourth volume of the Single Series to come soon!

Here’s a video of an in-studio performance for 90.9 The Bridge of the song “Mary,” recorded at Weights & Measures Soundlab.

 

 

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Album review: Scruffy & the Janitors - Anglo

(Photos by Jaime Russell, Anthem Photography)
 
I am, at my very core, a pessimist. Always have been, most likely will always be; it is a deep-rooted personality flaw that I cannot seem to shake. Now, I’m not one of those “the world is a shithole, what does it all mean?” people—I don’t care about that. We are all going to die; it is a fact, so let’s have a good time, I say.
 
No, my pessimism comes from my love of music and the decline in quality of what is being released into the world the last few years. This “music,” its lack of drive, power and imagination only feeds my negativity. However, I have noticed a shift of late, a move that brightens me. I smell a return of rock n roll and St. Joseph’s Scruffy & the Janitors have fired off the latest shot with Anglo, their sophomore (and most cohesive) effort to date.
 
It has indeed been a good time for local music. Red Kate, The Bad Ideas, Radkey, The Sluts, Josh Berwanger Band, Black on Black, Muscle Worship, The Big Iron, and many others have released top-notch rock n roll over the last 14 months, and Anglo is no exception. Powered by “Shake It Off” and the most recent single, “Dirtleg,” Anglo is a slice of bar rock that has been knocking at the door, just waiting to join the party; S&tJ want to play with the cool kids and now they are.
 
Compared to their lo-fi/zero budget debut, Pino, a couple years ago, Anglo is a giant leap ahead in sonic quality and level of song. Time spent onstage (Scruffy had standout sets as part of MidCoast Takeover, had a prime spot at Middle of the Map Fest, opened for Gringo Star and J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and are opening for Kongos at The Midland on June 30. All of this—before heading to Toronto for NXNE (the Canadian SXSW) and a mini-tour—has brought out confidence that has been lying just below the surface, ready to rear its head to the world and stomp on its throat.
 
S&tJ have found their groove. “Nehemiah” is the funkiest track they have laid down to tape and features Teriq Newton’s most Hendrix-inspired guitar shots. A solid, flying high, blues jam from outer space. The track “Ms. Crucio” comes on like The Hives, Benjamin Booker, and Foo Fighters locked in a room with wild dogs for a minute and a half. Quick call-out to a triflin’ woman, it’s fierce, in-your-face, and fun. The bowel shaking bass from Steven Foster and pounding courtesy of Trevin Newton on drums don’t hurt the situation.
 
“Dirtleg” is the best song Cage the Elephant wishes it wrote. Aggressive, self-deprecating, longing to be gone but just can’t move on. You see a theme here? Stuck somewhere you don’t want to be with a woman that drives you nuts is a common theme in blues-based music; the story is as old as time: I really hate this woman but she won’t go away.
 
“Shake it Off,” the current gem getting heavy play on 96.5 The Buzz, is the middle finger song of a record packed with screw you songs. It is a quick shot to the face. “Shake it off / cause it ain’t only me / no we were never friends / I wasn’t letting you slide,” a chorus that stops just short of calling someone out by name, spitting in their face. There is venom wrapped in top-notch drumming, rock steady bass lines, and some of the best local guitar work around. That’s where some of the best music comes from, doesn’t it? Hate, dissatisfaction, displeasure with your situation, life screwing you? Art comes from pain, pain comes from living, living is better than the alternative.
 
Scruffy & the Janitors do not hide their influences on Anglo. They do not try to get cute by disguising who they admire under layers of production to sound “new.” This is blues garage rock plain and simple: Son House, Skip James, Cage the Elephant, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys and some punk touches are thrown in for good measure. Scruffy are one of those young bands that you know what you are getting when you put their record on: what you’ll get is rock n roll, no more no less. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
 
--Danny R. Phillips
 
Danny has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others.
 
 

If you’re in St. Joe on Friday the 13th, you can catch Scruffy & the Janitors at the Anglo release party at First Ward House, with Cupcake and Rev Gusto. Facebook event page. They’ll be celebrating the release in Kansas City on Saturday, June 14 at recordBar with Heartfelt Anarchy, Domineko, and Rev Gusto. Facebook event page. 

 

 

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Golden Sound Records presents 3rd annual Crossroads Summer Block Party

Golden Sound Records will be hosting its third annual Crossroads Summer Block Party on June 6, at 19th and Wyandotte in the Crossroads Art District for First Friday. This year promises to be its biggest yet, with eight bands, as well as food trucks, live art, craft beer makers, and much more.
 
If you haven’t heard of Golden Sound Records, it’s a Kansas City-based record label with a roster of talented local and regional bands—among them, The Empty Spaces, The Caves, and Baby Teardrops. But co-founder Jerad Tomasino doesn’t think of Golden Sound as a traditional record label.
“Golden Sound started as more of a collective,” he remarks. Tomasino, who co-fronted Everyday/Everynight (which, at the time included Mat Shoare and Evan Ashby), said that the idea for the label materialized around 2009. “As E/E was getting its engine running, we started to play around with how we would collectively release our music. We wanted to create an entity that could withstand more than a single person or band.”
 
Tomasino started the label along with Shoare and Ross Brown in 2010. Since its inception, Golden Sound has not only helped bands release albums—it has helped showcase many musicians to audiences that might not otherwise be exposed to them.
 
One of the best culminations of this exposure is with Golden Sound’s annual Block Party. In addition to eight of Kansas City’s best bands, the Block Party will include food trucks from Indios Carbonsitos, Wilma’s Real Good Food, Jazzy B’s, and Nani’s Kitchen, as well as offerings from several other sponsors. Brown mentions that this allows the collective to involve more of the community. “We can’t give you all the support of a regular record label and we aren’t experts at every aspect, but we can help in some way.”
 
“Our process is creation-oriented, and we bring in super creative people in to flesh it out with their offerings,” says Tomasino.
 
But without argument, music is the forefront of the annual Block Party. The lineup starts off with a swift kick in the teeth by Jorge Arana Trio at 6:30, followed by the sweet pop stylings of Rev Gusto and Mat Shoare. Katelyn Conroy’s solo indie project La Guerre follows, and power trio Loose Park and The ACBs will bring the rock ‘n roll. The night will be rounded out by the otherworldly sounds of Metatone and the atmospheric instrumental mutiny of Forrester.
 
For Tomasino, one of the highlights of the Block Party is being able to put the performers on a large, professional stage in the middle of the Crossroads during First Friday. “You know your band’s music is good quality and worth putting on a big stage,” he says.
 
Golden Sound begins its push for the Block Party this Sunday, June 1, when it will celebrate the release of See Through Dresses’ self-titled LP at Mills Record Company. This is the second stop on the Omaha band’s tour. Matthew Carroll and Sara Bertuldo, of See Through Dresses, were two of the first artists that the label approached outside of its core group. Golden Sound released an EP from their previous project Honey & Darling in 2010, and Bertuldo’s punk project Millions of Boys is also a label artist. “We just want to get behind a really special album and band on its way to whatever is next,” says Tomasino, who feels that Mills will be a great place to expose See Through Dresses to a KC audience. “Mills plays a vital role in the musical makeup around here. We’re doing the in-store there so that people—specifically those actively engaged with KC music—can step into an easy environment to meet these guys, hear their music, and that’s it.”
 
“We want to take away the barriers and create a relaxed, fun environment for people to experience some amazing music,” Tomasino concludes. And Golden Sound is a collective, a label, whatever you want to call it, that does just that—facilitating contact between artist and audience, and at once helping increase the reach of Kansas City’s musical landscape.
 
 
If you’re milling about First Friday next weekend, be sure to hit up the Block Party. It’s free! Facebook event page. For more info on the Block Party, check out crossroadsblockparty.com. And be sure to check out the See Through Dresses’ release party at Mills. Show starts at 6:00 pm. The Author and the Illustrator will also play. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
  
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and is also a member of The Philistines, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, Dolls on Fire, and Lucky Graves. She’s a staff member of Midwest Music Foundation. She is getting tired of inserting all of these hyperlinks.
 
 
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Album review: Carswell & Hope - A Hunger

(Photo by Taffyfoto)
 
OK. I've got to admit this up front. I'm not terribly fond of piano-dominated albums. Sure, I like Randy Newman, I like Jimmy Webb when he was recording for Reprise Records, yeah, I'm a sucker for Mose Allison, and I guiltily admit to loving Elton John's first five albums. But you have to understand; I'm a guitar guy. I cut my teeth and grew up with the sounds of electric guitars. I will say this: ever since Burt Bacharach left town, there haven't been many folks around here writing sophisticated pop songs like those he wrote with Hal David. The new Carswell & Hope album, A Hunger, is a lovely return to the sound and feel of those sort of compositions.
 
Impeccably produced and well played by Dan Hines on bass, Jason Sloat on drums, Nick Carswell on guitar and vocals, and Austin Quick on keyboards, this is not some wimpy piano/crooner stuff; the music here has muscle. The opening song, “Before,” sets the tone. It starts out sounding like a Swell Season outtake: voice and piano only, and then moves into different musical terrain as the song unwinds. No verse/chorus/verse thing here; the song moves spinning through moods, tempos, and lyrics in a way reminiscent of a pop overture.
 
What especially caught my ear as the album flows on is the care taken with each song to make the music just as interesting as the lyrics. Little touches like the understated solo piece three-fourths of the way through the jaunty “Drinking At Crossroads” where the music and mood go somewhere else, (much like The Beatles did with “Fool On The Hill,”) throw the listener a nice little curve. One would expect a long guitar solo at that spot, but the song begs to differ. In their bio the band doesn't cite Jimmy Webb as an influence, but I hear him in these cool little melodic inventions that are part of these songs.
 
Listen to how the album's centerpiece “The Owning” starts out hard and fast then just after the verses end with an “oh well oh well oh well, ” the band takes over and guitar and piano duel for several bars as Quick explodes piano notes around Carswell's guitar lines and the bass and drums lock in on a galloping groove. The song ends with an extended coda, once again changing the mood and tempo, with three stop-time parts and a vocal coda by Carswell to put the song to bed.
 
I'm a sucker for songs that flow organically and go places you don't expect. These songs are full of invention. The album was funded by a successful Indiegogo fundraiser campaign and released on the band's own label, Silly Goose Records. A Hunger is one of those albums you can listen to after a hard day's work, sitting out on the screened porch in the early evening with a libation of your choice chilling your hand as this music plays out. Carswell is a native of Ireland. I hope he sticks around these parts for awhile. This band needs to make more music. This is an audacious debut.

--Barry Lee

Barry is host of Signal To Noise, which airs on KKFI 90.1 FM every Sunday at 8 pm. He spends his weekdays being station manager of KKFI.
 
 

If you’re in Lawrence tonight, head out to Jackpot Music Hall to see Carswell & Hope. Vik G. Trio and Heidi Lynne Gluck will be opening. Gluck is featured on Carswell & Hope’s album, on additional vocals for “Hunger.” Facebook event page. 

 

 

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