Monday, October 27, 2014
Fuck, yes! I'm sure that was what everyone was saying in 1981 when Four of a Kind finally dropped a private press polka album on Kansas City. The polka scene was likely hungry for some new blood and these four young Kansas Citians must have fit the bill. And when I say young, I mean young, no one on the in the group is older than the age of 17. Surely, in 1981, these 4 guys had to be pretty cool? Chicks dig an accordion and hanging with grandma and grandpa at a bingo hall for a polka concert, right?
Private press, Kansas City, polka should speak for itself, but I have no clue whether this is good or bad. It sounds dance-able to me and there's a lot of waltzes. Again, I'm not the guy to ask whether or not it's good, but they are young, so that's impressive. They do "Beer Barrel" polka, so if you're looking for yet another rendition, here's an album you may need. The vocal tracks are interesting as they are rooted in ethnic tradition and not just thrown in as something to dance to. However, I'm really just here to let you know this exists.
I assume the kids were from the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City as it is still the primary spot for Slavic heritage in town. While not necessarily a Slavic music, Polka has it's roots in Central Europe and I would have to imagine, if there was a scene for this, it was Strawberry Hill. I'm certain though, aftter the guys dropped this LP, Strawberry Hill blew up. Both girls and and A&R reps form all the majors had to banging at these guys' doors to try and find some of that magic.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
The 7th LP by the Appleseed Cast and I believe the first to be without founding member, Aaron Pillar. I'm not sure why Pillar parted ways, but it ultimately leaves singer and guitarist, Chris Crisci, to be the only founding member left in the band.
The music doesn't suffer at all. It's one of the band's most inspired LPs. Based in long, transitional, instrumentals that focus energy into a boiling point. When Crisci starts singing, the tune is almost over, but every time, it's worth the wait to get there. It's certainly something you have to enjoy in full, there's no single stand out track, nothing you can skip to for a quick fix...well, except maybe the plastic-funk found at the beginning of side 2 on "Branches on the Arrow Peak Revelation," but other than that, it's an album experience.
There's a bunch of stuff about science, numbers, and nature on the back cover. Illumination Ritual is either some metaphysical explanation of the world or just some New Age philosophy...I don't know, get's pretentious, but I'm sure somebody "gets it" and it makes the album even more epic for them. I'm more into the sounds, don't need some guy's take on scientific mysticism to enjoy the music.
Branches on the Arrow Peak Revelation
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
This 5 song EP was initially released in 2006 on CD and later released by Hawthorne Street Records in 2008 in this vinyl version. The band is centered around Allen Epley of Shiner fame, but also features Christ Metcalf on drums who was a part of the same KC post-hardcore scene as Epley. To round out the three piece, Eric Abert plays bass in the three piece.
To compare the EP to Shiner is obvious, it has certain elements and the obvious player. The math-i-ness is prevalent, still very challenging and complicated music. The strained out vocals are there. The bursts of distorted guitar are there as well. However, it's much more subdued than Epley's work in Shiner. It's not as loud and angry, it draws out post-rock soundscapes similar to what Appleseed Cast transformed themselves into after being emo for several years. There's also a prevalent need to call it shoegazer, but I wouldn't say Epley was diving deep into the British 90's scene, probably just channeling his love for the same bands that influenced the likes of My Bloody Valentine. However, shoegazer can serve as a valid reference point.
Most importantly, it's really good. Begging the question, why is this band hanging out in relative obscurity? The Life and Times recently released a new album and yet, little to no fanfare surrounding it. Isn't even being done up for a vinyl release. Granted, I don't keep to up to date with new music that much, however, I have an affinity for the post-rock scene and everybody is all hoped up about the new Whirr LP (it is pretty good), yet, very few of those people even know this band exists.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Wichita born Stan Kenton tried a lot of things, some of which stuck in jazz for decades. This LP however represents one of his attempts at innovation that did not catch on. Regardless, it is a fairly interesting listen and a good attempt at something new.
The album saw Kenton putting together an amazing set of players, some tunes even feature names of the band, "Maynard Ferguson," "Shelly Manne," "June Christy," and "Art Pepper" are all track names and players on the LP. Throughout the tracks, Kenton took highly sophisticated jazz structure and merged it with classical movements and ideas.
The release isn't as challenging as some of his later work and experiments, it's fairly pleasant and easy to listen to. It's easy to see why the classical/jazz merger didn't stick with others or even Kenton, it sounds forced and segmented. Still, it's interesting hearing something tip toeing around Stravinsky before it goes full out jazz band.
This is Marilyn Maye's debut for RCA. TV personality and the guy who discovered Maye pens the back cover and gushes on and on about her greatness. The LP actually boosts some talented arrangers drawing both from Don Costa and Manny Albam, but all in all, just really pop vocal tracks with a singer that has a background more in theater than jazz.
The theatrical value of her voice and the arrangements on this LP give it a very big showbiz sound. Highlights include the uptempo "Get Me To the Church on Time," the simple bass line vocal pairing of "Washington Square" until it gets full-blown, her rendition of "Take Five" is fun, outside of that, many ballads, nothing that stands out too much or has become the definitive version of a song.
I Love You Today