By opening this story, I’d like to state forthright that I fully support the inclusion of more Anglophilic bands in the Kansas City music scene. There could never be a shortage of them, and the last one I can really think of that may have been remotely Brit pop in their influence is long defunct Lawrence garage rockers Conner (who were admittedly channeling Guided by Voices more than anything), though you could surmise that Soft Reeds draw from the well of Roxy Music as much as any other band in the metro.
I generally focus my reports on downloads of albums that are available at a price of less than $5, but I’ll make an exception for this one. Thee Water MoccaSins have been steadily building up their name for well over a year now by playing ’80s-centric rock that focuses on more of a Pale Saints or Boo Radleys caliber of British rock than Pulp or The Smiths. How weird it is, then, that the members in this band have mostly all been active in recorded music since the sounds of the predecessors have been in existence, and that the band has just now surfaced as a viable output for those involved in the creation of the project. In the era when underground indie music was dominated by My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver and Slowdive, founding member Steve Tulipana was still a kid, fronting the aggressive noise rock band Season to Risk, and making quite a name for himself in the process.
Rounding out the lineup is current S2R member Billy Smith (also of the Tulipana co-fronted Roman Numerals), John Bersuch of Minds Under Cover and Bacon Shoe (and the sadly out of print Dandercroft magazine), and Wade Williamson of Olympic Size. The quartet create an enormous sound that establishes itself as a contender for any best-of KC music ballot that will exist by the end of this year before the listener even reaches the end of the first listen of their debut album, From the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear. Throw in some underlying and possibly unintentional Tom Waits themes, and we have an eight-track album I would defy anyone to find uninteresting.
The band has decided to forgo the use of Kickstarter, and is currently offering their album as an $8 digital download, with the intention of every cent of the proceeds going toward a vinyl release of the album. Those who purchase the download need not worry about paying twice, though, as it looks like the price paid for the download will be considered something of a down payment on the final product to be released in the next few months. You can stream the album as much as you want here, or if you want to support your local bands, suck it up and throw down the money to help one of the best albums of the year get memorialized on a dead format.
I would be a fool to hunt down and post every local show happening in the coming months. The metro area is experiencing a musical boom, and has been for the past few years, so I suppose limiting myself in the amount of shows I post here is both good and bad. Good that there are so many choices, but bad in that I don’t wish to show preferential treatment against those I choose to exclude. These days, most local events are pretty easy to track via the bands, venues or promoters participating in them, so if you miss out on something you only have yourself to blame.
CANCELED: The September 29th Unwritten Law show at The Beaumont Club has been canceled, likely due to co-headliner The Ataris inexplicably dropping off the bill. The show previously had three KC bands in support, including Hipshot Killer, Bent Left, and Le Grand. Hipshot Killer is one of the best melodic punk bands to come out of KC in a long time. If you haven’t already, you can pick up the band’s debut 12 inch at Vinyl Renaissance on 39th Street. For the tech savvy, a digital version can be purchased from their bandcamp here. Bent Left has been a mainstay in the local punk scene for the better part of a decade, and has many politically-charged albums and EPs which can be purchased either through local stores or directly from the band. Le Grand, while not my bag, probably has a built-in fanbase with high schoolers who love auto-tuned and frankly generic pseudo-punk and/or radio-friendly “screamo.” Not trying to put baby in a corner or anything, but I have to call it like I hear it.
09/23: Kansas City via Chicago (or vice versa) space rockers The Life and Times are heading up an event at Crosstown Station for those who want to punish their eardrums (in a good way, of course). Not only will this be one of the venue’s last shows before their untimely demise of being turned into an urban church, but it will be one of only two times the headliner will make an appearance in our town before the end of the year (the other being an opening slot on the 11/04 HUM show at recordBar). Opening the Crosstown show will be thirty-something favorites Dirtnap (Are they together? Are they split up?), Larryville newcomer indie-pop sensations Cowboy Indian Bear, and Cherokee Rock Rifle, a hard-rockin’, hard-drinkin’, hard-sexin’ foursome with only one release under their belt, but a steadily growing local following due to the charisma of bar tending front man Nathaniel “Dutch” Humphrey.
10/01: Crosstown Station will be saying it’s goodbyes with a final live music show on October 1st. The list of names on the bill is long, not the least of which is a rare reunion from Giants Chair, co-creators of a ’90s indie rock sub-genre lovingly referred to by some as the “Kansas City sound” (shared in part with Molly McGuire, Shiner, et al). Also performing as part of the festivities will be Be/Non (the ever-changing sounds of the prolific Brodie Rush), Thee Water Moccasins (a side project of Roman Numerals), Minden (new project from members of Kelpie), Olivetti Letter (a brand spankin’ new band with members of To Conquer, Season to Risk, Doris Henson, and many others), Olympic Size (a mostly one-off project between members of Doris Henson, The Belles, and Roman Numerals that still pop up for an occasional gig), local jazz outfit Diverse (who often team up with other local musicians to pay tribute to past influences), and the synth-heavy sounds of Parts of Speech. Other unannounced and unbilled (Major Games) special guests are expected to appear, and if you are free that evening, you would be wise to attend.
10/15: Kansas City label The Record Machine is releasing a new split 7 inch between locals Soft Reeds and Minden, and The Brick will serve as host to their record release on October 15th. Also opening will be TRM newcomers Deadringers. The event will be 21+, and the cover will probably be $7. Even if the flier says $5, bring $7, as the venue in question has a history of magically increasing their cover charges the evening of the show. Hear Deadringers’ single publicly released demo track here, and while we’re on the topic of TRM, go here to stream and purchase the debut LP from Ad Astra Arkesta. New releases (and coinciding release shows) can be expected from Capybara and Max Justus before the end of the year as well. If 2010 treated The Record Machine well, and 2011 has placed them in a local spotlight, it will be interesting to see what 2012 has in store for the label.
10/25: Last but not least, Season to Risk will be playing a very unexpected second gig this October, opening for the once great Helmet (or, as they have become since reuniting, Page Hamilton & Co) at Riot Room. Locals Waiting For Signal will be rounding out what is currently only a three band bill, sure to give at least some in the crowd a migraine due to either S2R’s smoke machine, or the deafening wall of noise coming from much of the lineup. Helmet has reportedly been playing a respectable amount of their older material, covering a lot of songs from Betty, Aftertaste, Meantime, and Strap It On. But, as is to be expected, at least part of their set will involve some of their newer, inferior songs as well. Season to Risk revealed before their first show of 2011 last month that they have now written two new songs as an inactive band. There is hardly any chance they will ever be recorded, so if you want to hear them, you know what you need to do.