Kansas City musician Casey Burge has been more than a continual blip on my music radar since I was but a teenager. From his work in the late, lamented Lawrence indie rock band Kelpie, who boasted an arsenal of musicians from other area favorites like The Appleseed Cast, Buffalo Saints and Larryville expats Cavaliers, to his collaboration with Jim Button in the Button Band, Burge’s musical craft has matured in the public eye for nearly a decade. I had all but forgotten about the man when he re-emerged recently in Minden, a quartet being billed as some sort of indie rock supergroup, whether by the band’s consent or not. Having gotten a chance to see the band perform their style of multiple decade-spanning indie-pop live at Riot Room as part of the Middle of the Map Fest, I can attest to their larger than life sound and eagerly look forward to their output in the future. But I digress, this post is about the man, not the band.
Unbeknownst to myself, Burge was still recording pop gems in his bedroom throughout the late ‘oughts, and they were not made public until early this year when local cassette label Overland Shark released a limited run, 20-track tape of his work from late 2007-early 2008, titled Universal Fun. Though simply recorded through a computer microphone, the heart of every song is encased in soaring bittersweet pop melodies, most of which last under 90 seconds and either fade out without a real conclusion or end in an odd, almost saddening guitar strum, a scrapped demo track of a fully fleshed song that will probably never exist. And yet, as the bright yellow cover would subtly suggest, the sunny simplicities of those songs gave new and old listeners a view into what Burge was shifting toward, a sound that would soon break out into the aforementioned Minden, and yet another solo release.
Triumph was recorded between February and May of 2011, and shows a decidedly more coherent creation process in the instrumentation and recording, gaining that much more stability from the drum machine Burge employed for the release. Instead of an assorted spread of minimalistic acoustic pop, the nine track release is as robust as a lo-fi album can be, giving nods to the annals of pop anti-heroes from the last four plus decades. Two of the tracks from this release were re-recorded as Minden for their upcoming 7″ on The Record Machine, and plans are for a coinciding release week with the cassette I currently speak of. In the meantime, go check it out for yourself right here, and pre-order the cassette while you’re at it.