kansascity

Album review: The Conquerors - "You Must Be Dreaming"

(Photo by Liana Wears)
 
“Twist and shout or get the fuck out”—a motto that couldn’t describe The Conquerors more perfectly. Your favorite psychedelic rockers are welcoming two more songs to your vinyl* collection. While “You Must Be Dreaming” dares you not to smile and bounce along, “Maybe Someday” is a perfectly grounded, pulsing contrast of contemplation. This 7” single is brought to you by High Dive Records, recorded at Element Recording with Joel Nanos.

Rory Cameron leads the quintet, writing numbers that give a nod back to The Byrds and The Beatles. The video for upbeat “You Must Be Dreaming,” shot and edited by Alec Nicholas, sets the vibe perfectly. We reminisce to a time where bands performed in suits and ties and answered applause with a bow of appreciation. Add a spike to the punch bowl, and the scene changes color completely to the tipsy, sweaty, raucous party you would expect to attend this weekend.

 


You have three chances to catch The Conquerors this weekend to pick up their new 7” and the trippy t-shirt artwork designed by drummer Jim Button:
Friday at The Blind Tiger, with Berwanger (who is celebrating the release of the
Demonios EP; see our review here), Drugs & Attics, and El Rey-Tones. 9 pm. Facebook event page.
Saturday at Mills Record Company, with Shy Boys. 7 pm. Facebook event page.
Saturday at Replay Lounge (Lawrence), with Berwanger and Psychic Heat. 10 pm. Facebook event page.


*vinyl, cassette, CD, digital - choose your weapon.
 

--Roshelle Pekarek 

   

Album review: Berwanger - Demonios

Josh Berwanger is one of those guys that is a local legend, but doesn’t have to be local. He is not just some Kansas City kid trying to make it. When I read that he is playing somewhere I frequent, I get nervous. I mean, it’s Josh Berwanger, FROM THE ANNIVERSARY. In fact, I went to see him earlier this year at a sports bar. He played with Matt Pryor. I watched in awe, took in all of his electro-acoustic brilliance. But, sadly I was too nervous to say hello. He’s just coming off of a national tour, opening for Matt Pryor and The Get Up Kids to sold-out crowds. Kansas City is more than lucky to call him ours.
 
Berwanger is a fantastic guitar pop project. And Demonios is the second effort from this project, a six-song EP, being released on High Dive Records. Deservingly so, “Demonios” is the first single from this EP. This track is super catchy. Almost an update on a ‘50s-style guitar and harmony-heavy pop tune, mix in some impressive tempo changes and catchy rhymes and you’ve got yourself an instant Berwanger classic (Picture me doing the dishes and singing along “please let these dishes get done. Please let these dishes get done. They just sit around and run, they ain’t havin’ any fun. Dishes get done. Na na na na na na”).
 
Another favorite track from Demonios is “Cherry.” A break-up, I’m-movin’-on, fast-paced, dreamy vocal, catchy 50’s-sounding pop guitar—stuck in your head but in a great way—hit. This song, live, is so good. I dance and dream of being cha cha cha Cherry.
 
Onto the next track, “Blackheart,” the most interesting transition on this album. Josh takes us on a ride, from electric pop guitar and catchy sugary lyrics, to steel guitar and sad drug-infested lyrics and beautiful country harmonies. “Oh baby, you’re gonna die.” This is one of my favorite tracks of the year. I can’t get enough.
 
The brands of guitar on this album are contradicting yet cohesive. They complement each other like nothing I’ve really heard. It was an ambitious and daring move and after listening, you walk away fulfilled. Put it on and take a journey through tempo changes and genre jumps with Josh and his dreamy vocals.
I can’t wait to get my mitts on that beautiful purple splattered vinyl tomorrow night at Mills. Maybe I will work up the courage to shoot Josh a really smooth “Sup” and get a signature. Don’t bet on it. **Cue Garth and Wayne “WE’RE NOT WORTHY!”
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 
 
If you’re in the area this weekend, you have three chances to catch Berwanger:
Friday at The Blind Tiger, with The Conquerors (who are releasing their single “You Must Be Dreaming”; see our review here), Drugs & Attics, and El Rey-Tones. 9 pm. Facebook event page.
Saturday at Replay Lounge (Lawrence), with The Conquerors and Psychic Heat. 10 pm. Facebook event page. 
   

Song premiere: "Bad Production" by The Good Hearts

The Deli KC is happy to premiere the debut single from The Good Hearts, “Bad Production.”
 
This new trio is headed up by Nicole Springer, best known for her work in The Clementines. “About a year ago, I found myself losing my confidence in music. Rather than give up on it entirely, I decided it was time to start a new project that might help inspire me again,” she says. Though The Good Hearts’ music is tinged with the same soulfully driven folk pop elements  as The Clementines, the addition of violinist Roshelle Pekarek and cellist Anna Cook has allowed Springer to take new directions with her songs.
 
“I loved the idea of writing very intimate songs and arranging them with string players,” says Springer, who has been able to further explore the depths and possibilities of her songwriting through this project. “Once Roshelle, Anna, and I started working on my material, I knew I had found my happiness in music again.”
 
“Bad Production” was recorded and produced by Lennon Bone.
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
 

The Good Hearts will be making their debut live performance this Sunday, December 13, at recordBar. Show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. You can also catch them at Coda for MudStomp Records’ Saturday Afternoon Stomp on December 19 at 3 pm. Facebook event page. 

   

Mikal Shapiro

CD Name: 
The Musical
Music Link: 
https://mikalshapiro.bandcamp.com/album/the-musical-2015
Album Cover URL: 
https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xft1/v/t1.0-9/12294881_1112715948740479_8304124007759610731_n.jpg?oh=b6df1a19df11dd71b23bef78d110e3ff&oe=56D79104
body: 
<div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">Singer-songwriter </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/Mikal-Shapiro-Music-187269774618439/?fref=ts"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">Mikal Shapiro&rsquo;s</span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;"> perfectly titled latest release, <i>The Musical</i>, is a collection of not merely songs, but 10 short stories set to wonderful music. The album is a work&mdash;or multiple works&mdash;of art that are just as mysterious and intriguing as any paintings you will find in a gallery. Shapiro&rsquo;s palette is splattered with the complete spectrum of colors. There are dreary gray tones and bright whimsical flashes, melding together to create a soundtrack to life&mdash;one that touches many musical genres, including rock, folk, jazz, old-school country, and even gospel.</span></div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><i><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">The Musical's</span></i><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;"> opening act, &ldquo;Nope,&rdquo; is an airy, ethereal fantasy. Odd, evasive lyrics over a folk sound made jazzier by a muted trumpet give the listener a sense of drifting in and out of a dream on a rainy Sunday morning. Drums and crashing cymbals briefly end the slumber, until you are lulled back to sleep as the song comes to a close. Several tracks share this jazz feel, including &ldquo;Out on the Town,&rdquo; &ldquo;Two String Blues,&rdquo; and the wonderfully whimsical &quot;Hot Cool.&quot; Shapiro's vocals are poised and effortless on each of these.&nbsp;</span></div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">&ldquo;Here and Now&rdquo; explores rediscovering love and a desire to forget (or never remember) the past. A dull snare beat blanketed by beautiful steel guitar rivals the purest of cry-in-your-beer country songs. Similarly, &ldquo;This Way to Heaven&rdquo; is country with an emphasis on gospel. It begins a cappella and, as the band joins in, becomes the loveliest song on the album. It is simultaneously serene and haunting. </span></div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">Matching the mystery and irony found throughout the album, &ldquo;Daniel,&rdquo; the catchiest and most up-tempo tune, is also possibly the saddest. Daniel himself is an enigma. The storyteller, who acknowledges being a &ldquo;friend&rdquo; of Daniel&rsquo;s, clearly knows little more about him than that he can &ldquo;sleep like a Christian&rdquo; and &ldquo;drink like a demon.&rdquo; The song turns dark when the protagonist is found dead, presumably by suicide. &ldquo;But on that Saturday, Daniel was down / They couldn&rsquo;t say where he was found, or how he was found.&rdquo; Brilliantly, the listener is left to decide how Daniel may have met his demise, and why. &nbsp;</span></div> <div style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;">Shapiro is fortunate to be backed by&nbsp;Chad Brothers (guitar and vocals), Johnny Hamil (electric and double bass), and Matt Richey (drums), along with a small army of additional local musicians. This adept team provides a canvas that Shapiro expertly fills. My interpretations of The Musical may differ from other listeners. As with any painting, the artist is not only revealing her emotions, but is also attempting to provoke a response&mdash;and Shapiro certainly does. My response may be lost in translation, as the peculiar, personal songs will pierce each listener differently.</span></div> <div style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;Times New Roman&quot;"><br /> </span></div> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">--Brad Scott&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;</p>
   

Album review: Rev Gusto - Burnt Out Friends

“Goodnight Laura. It’s nice to know ya. But it’s better if I just fade away. So goodnight Laura. Know I adore ya. But, you’ll never be happy if I stay.” This lyric pierces my heart a bit. While this sad, easy let-down story is charming and catchy, I do want Jerry Frederick to stay. I really do. This lyric from “Goodnight Laura” is just some of the simple brilliance found on Burnt Out Friends, the debut full-length from the very original and talented Kansas City based Rev Gusto.
 
Burnt Out Friends, the 10-track record, released July 28 on High Dive Records, is on heavy rotation in my house. The super rad red cassette is in even heavier rotation in my car. I have seen them countless times. Danced like a crazy person until my legs no longer worked. Forced everyone I know to listen and join in. You could call me a fan.
 
This album is lighthearted and lyrically brilliant. We should expect no less from the gifted mind behind the project: Jerry Frederick. “We wanted to capture a raw sound with the album, so we recorded the entire LP live in studio to do so,” he explains. He might know what he is doing. He studied in England under Ray Davies of The Kinks. Spoiler: you can hear that in this album—every track. Jerry’s vocals are almost Britpop. Imagine early Beach Boys had a baby with The Kinks and Spoon and raised it in a dark, sarcastic, romantic comedy. Burnt Out Friends is full of simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic.
 
The brilliant musicians who can be heard on this album are Quinn Hernandez (drums), Shaun Crowley (guitar and trumpet), Peter Beatty (guitar and keys), Sam Frederick (bass) and of course, Jerry Frederick on guitar and vocals. Fun fact about Rev Gusto: after a restaff, they are now a three-piece. This includes Sam, still on bass, and Matt Wargin on drums. I heard this rumor but have not taken in a live show with the new lineup yet. “I loved playing with the dudes from the old lineup, but a stripped-down sound lets me get in touch with my song’s pop roots; more of a focus on vocals and harmonies,” was Jerry’s response when I quizzed him about the shake-up.
 
Burnt out Friends opens with “The Boys Are at It Again,” a great pick for an opening track. It’s light, sugary, and catchy. Jerry’s vocals and Shaun Crowley’s guitar with a perfect salty surf sound makes you dance like an awkward Peanuts’ character. My favorite track on the record is “Blood in a Bag.” This song about a crush is lyrically like none I’ve ever heard. In true Jerry fashion, it tells an obscure story of a boy, crushing on a girl while he has his blood drawn. Awkward, simple, like it were straight out of a dark indie romantic comedy. “Surf City/Mind in a Cage” is the most interesting on the album. The two short songs smashed together are a perfect combination. The first of the two are just as you imagine. The title is a spoiler. The second feels like a dance-it-out garage pop anthem. I put this track on in my living room, listen to Shaun play me that salty surf sound, jump around (usually after too many beers) and scream, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go,” along with Jerry.  
 
This pristine, simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic is such an unlikely sound to come out of Kansas City. I am full on Thanksgiving turkey thankful for it. And if you get the opportunity catch a show, do it.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 
 

You can check out the new Rev Gusto lineup at Revolution Records next First Friday—they’ll be playing therewith Black Stacey and Coyote. Show starts at 7 pm. Facebook event page. Or if you’re in Warrensburg on Saturday, they’ll be at The Bay.