Monday, October 17, 2016

Kevin Morby Harlem River Woodsist Records 2013

Kevin Morby Harlem River Woodsist Records 2013 CAT #WOODSIST071

This is Morby's debut LP as a solo artist. Years spent with his other bands primaraly in New York brought about 8 tracks which Morby has said were influenced by the Big Apple, thus the title Harlem River.

Like New York City, Morby's debut is a big undertaking. It's easy to get around, but to get to everything is nearly impossible. Morby employs a Dylan-esque thin-mercury sound and there is are great moments, tons of highlights, and things you just don't expect. But, also like New York, there's a lot of messy bits and plenty of construction all around. He's finding his direction and building things up. The highlights of the LP make it a fantastic and outweigh Morby's sometimes lofty ambitions that weren't completely fleshed out.

Harlem River

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hipshot Killer All The Hell In The World B/W Sky Flying By Too Much Rock 2016

Hipshot Killer All The Hell In The World B/W Sky Flying By Too Much Rock 2016 CAT #No 005

Hipshot Killer is a three piece punk band drawing heavily from the dirtier side of late-70's power-pop. The band has been performing since 2009, but LONG before that band members Mike Alexander and Chris Wagner were in the The Revolvers together, In addition, Wagner and a one-time Hipshot Killer drummer were in The Breakups.  These guys are old now and probably have kids and stuff. Those bands were 20 years ago. But, to their credit, the years look good on them, they've gotten a wiser, they've grown out of simplicity of old Descendants records and stretched out musically. They still wear Chuck Taylors, though. Seriously, drop that, you'll be confused for a Kelly Clarkson fan.

Even in their Chucks, they're a bit tougher and got some power-pop hooks to go along with their punk rock chords. They've released a full length and this new 7" represents the 5th in a series of singles put out by Too Much Rock. As stated previously, Sid at Too Much Rock puts out the singles provided the band does a song of his choosing. The band gets all benefits and the records, Sid just helps out local music. For this release, Hipshot Killer was given the early 90's proto-emo song, Sky Flying By" by Samiam. For Hipshot Killer, it's an easy task and they remain true to the original track which was likely a song that influenced the Breakups way back when.

The original tune by the band, "All The Hell in the World," wins the award for best song title of the year. It's got 90's teenage angst, but finds adulthood in the end. The track builds up with guitars until it blows up into a singalong, but the lyrics have a lot more in common with a Bruce Springsteen song than the typical 'damn the man' punk-rock anthem.

The single will be released 10/21 at local record stores. The band will be performing live 10/22 at Mills Records and again on 10/25 at Davey's Uptown. A Lawrence show is in the works. If you search you can find a stream of "All The Hell in the World", but the B-side is off limits unless you happen upon on it on the radio or buy the single.
Check out the A-Side

Mouthbreathers Anxiety B/W The Creeper In the Red 2010

Mouthbreathers Anxiety B/W The Creeper In the Red 2010 CAT #ITR215

Previously, I discussed this Lawrence, Kansas' 7" record that was put out on Replay Records (here). I dug that record a lot, but seeing how I was discussing multiple releases all at once, kind of glossed over the band. However, when I saw this 7" on the cheap, I snagged it and have been sitting on it for year.

Had I known how this record came to be, I would've wrote about much earlier. The story is told in all it's glory here. But, to summarize, the band's demo CD was provided to a member In the Red band, Reigning Sound. In the Red has been putting out tons of noise for years and are kind of a big deal out in L.A.. They have a huge catalog and have released numerous Ty Segall records and that dude is all the rage every 3 months when he puts out 12 new songs. The CD they provided was just a blank CD with a picture of a dick on it (yeah, a penis). Eventually, the CD was lost, but, Kelly of the Love Garden was called by the former owner asking for another copy. CD was supplied and it eventually made it's way to In the Red label founder, Larry Hardy, who agreed to put out this single.

It's a solid 7", I brought up Ty Segall previously because like him, the Mouthbreathers are channeling a late-60's garage rock vibe. Mouthbreathers modernize the sound and make it their own, it's refreshing whereas most bands labeled garage punk (Ty Segall included) sound more revival to me.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jorge Arana Trio & Ambulants Split 7" Bridal Horse Records 2013

Jorge Arana Trio & Ambulants Split 7" Bridal Horse Records 2013 NO CAT #

Picked this up as it had Paul Malinowski's name on it, he did the mastering. Figured it'd may have that 90's Kansas City post-hardcore sound with his name being on it. In addition to Malinowski's name on the sleeve, the packaging is well done, almost too well done. Really thick cardboard 7" sleeve, that may keep things too tight as the record was pretty scuffed coming out, but it plays and everything looks great.

Jorge Arana Trio, for this release isn't really a trio as it's credited on the back to another player or two. Their one featured song, "Dagger", is a dark, moody, instrumental post-rock experiment with a violin playing way too much of a role. The intro makes it sound a lot like an obscure emo band called Sweep the Leg, Johnny, but the aggression tones down quickly and the band flirts around with jazz structures.

Ambulants provide the b-side with two songs, "Washed Ashore" and "Dweller". These tracks definitely borrow from 90's KC bands like Boy's Life and Shiner. Very choppy start and stop dynamics, but slow moving. To the point you think the mastering was off if wasn't for the vocalist's falsetto coming out on top so clear.

Overall, solid 7" and well worth the $5 it'll put someone back.

The Wizards From Kansas S/T Mercury 1970 (OG)

The Wizards From Kansas S/T Mercury 1970 (OG) CAT #SR61309

Previously discussed this here, but that copy is a cheap bootleg you can buy for $12 on eBay.

This copy isn't a bootleg, it's original. I never thought I'd see an original, let alone for the basement price of 49 cents at a local Vintage Stock. I could get into the ethics...maybe I should of told Vintage Stock about the album's value, but if they sold it for 49 cents, that means they gave someone even less to bring it into their store. So, if I should feel bad for anyone, it's the guy or girl who sold it to Vintage Stock.

Either way, I'm fine. I'm going to keep and cherish this LP. Sounds ten times better than the crummy bootleg and it's never leaving my collection.

Full Album

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Your Friend Gumption Domino 2016

Your Friend Gumption Domino 2016 CAT# WIGLP342

Taryn Miller, a Lawrence, KS resident originally from Winfield, Kansas, is Your Friend. Her first offering on Domino was the re-released EP Jekyll/Hyde which was filled with accessible experimentation and served as highlight for local artists. The EP's style is best summarized in a quote from a Kansas City paper Miller provided early this year at the eve of this album's release;  "I stopped overthinking it, I was like, 'Do it for your own sake. Just enjoy it'"

The quote speaks volumes to the Jekyll/Hyde release. Those songs explored soundscapes without getting pretentious. However, Gumption, her debut LP, seems to be reaching and indeed, overthinking things. It's 8 songs, with each track nearing the 5 minute mark. Its songs find space and never come back. Tracks get stuck with Miller's big voice surrounded by drowning electronic sounds and sparse drums, which is pleasant, but it doesn't always feel like a song. There's good bits to be sure and of course, she doesn't have to write songs, Miller can be as punk rock as she wants. She could be saying, fuck songs and go Glenn Branca on everyone, she'd still be cool, but it still won't mean the album is any good.

Hopefully, this release serves to calm Miller down and help her return with a more focused effort. And sure, people will like Gumption's constantly meandering song structures, the whole LP messes around as much as most a Deerhoof album does (and people love that shit). But, Deerhoof's saving grace is they give you at least a few obvious hits for every 30 minutes of noodling around.

Gumption Video

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Max Groove Center of Gravity Optimism Incorporated 1987

Max Groove Center of Gravity Optimism Incorporated 1987 CAT #OP-3108

Max Groove is a Kansas City jazz pianist/keyboard player, who over the years put out around dozen albums and is still active today. He has worked with a host of musicians locally and from around the US and started early on the smooth jazz scene, the claim being he is a pioneer in the genre.

Center of Gravity from 1987 is typical of what he is about. Highly polished jazz and an 80's smoothness that can sound dated today. However, back then, this was highly sophisticated production. It sounds a lot like elevator music, but some people are into that. Some of the robotic sounds are interesting, but nothing terribly off the wall. The players are all very talented and Max Groove pens much of his work, so its impressive in that regard.

Live Performance in St. Joe, MO