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black on black

Album review: Black on Black - Firebrand (EP)

Black on Black is one of those rare bands that shocked, surprised, bewildered, confused, and straight knocked me out when I first heard its debut EP Help Yourself. Blending Fugazi, Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, Converge, and a miles deep well of anger and aggression, Wade Kelly, Aaron Riffel, and John Benda tapped into something that has sadly been missing in rock today: honesty.
Through three EPs (Help Yourself, Let’s Get Cynical, Get On With It), Black on Black has bludgeoned listeners with truth, building an ever-growing following not through gimmicks or recycled, hackneyed riffs but through in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n roll and live performances that reportedly leave attendees drained and wanting more. There seems to be no end to the fire, force, and boiling hostility within Black on Black. With four EPs in the two years, the band is on a creative explosion that does not ever seem to stumble.
The band’s latest release Firebrand walks tall, continuing where Get On With It left off.
Blowing out the starting blocks with “I Dreamt I Died,” a song of gnashed teeth and crushed dreams; “we can borrow a mock civility” lead man and chief lyricist Wade Kelly screams, “but we’ll hang the righteous at dawn.” There is definitely a tone to Firebrand and the motivation of Black on Black.
“Getting signed to a deal, to a label is not what we’re trying for,” Kelly told me. “We just hope people like the music we make.” With Firebrand, Black on Black does not merely tap a vein to get in touch with their audience; they have hacksawed and ice picked their way through a major artery.
“Butcher’s Block” sounds like the world would if Springsteen and The Hold Steady would have been punk rockers. Like Springsteen and Craig Finn, Kelly paints vivid pictures with his lyrics: “when my body breaks like a shell dissolving in the rain / you’re gonna taste my angry love.” While Kelly spits bile out to the world, drummer Benda and bassist Riffel (formerly of Lawrence punk stalwarts Unknown Stuntman) push the songs along like a rocket-fueled muscle car with no brakes, no seatbelts, and a trunk packed to the brim with nitroglycerin.
Black on Black is becoming an expert in blending its influences and anxiety to make a style that is all its own. No regurgitated Misfits riffs, no banjos, no rehashed 1970s bombast, no gimmicks, no angles to appease the cool kids; Black on Black does what it wants and it shows on Firebrand. It shows in everything the band does. Many bands claim to live within the DIY philosophy but few in today’s world do it as well as Black on Black and—thanks to an unflinching approach to everything—fans get great albums like Firebrand. Keep up the anger-filled work my friends, it’s definitely working in your favor.
--Danny R. Phillips
Danny has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others.
Check out Black on Black at KC’s first Zombie Pub Crawl this weekend. They will open up the Vandals stage at 9 pm on Saturday. Facebook event page.

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The Deli KC's Best of 2013

(Photo above of The Grisly Hand, by Todd Zimmer)
Some of us here at The Deli KC (and a few other local music experts) have compiled our best of 2013 local lists. Here are a few of our picks…
Michelle Bacon, The Deli KC editor-in-chief
Top 10 albums of 2013
Ha Ha TonkaLessons
The Grisly HandCountry Singles
Tiny HorseDarkly Sparkly
The Latenight CallersSongs For Stolen Moments
Not A PlanetThe Few, The Proud, The Strange
ClairaudientsI’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet
The Silver MaggiesMy Pale Horse
The Dead GirlsFade In/Fade Out
Freight Train Rabbit KillerFreight Train Rabbit Killer
Katy Guillen & the Girls…And Then There Were Three
Zach Hodson, The Deli KC contributor
Top 13 of 2013
The Grisly Hand – Country Singles
The Electric LungsSimplified and Civilized
Tiny Horse – Darkly Sparkly
The ACBsLittle Leaves
The Dead Girls – Fade In/Fade Out
Not a Planet – The Few, The Proud, The Strange
Mime GameDo Your Work
The Latenight Callers – Songs for Stolen Moments
The JinxedThe Loon
Erik VoeksFinulu
More Like GeorgiaMove On
The Octopuss MenMusic to Make Her Change Her Mind
Honorable mentions
BloodbirdsPsychic Surgery
SundiverThe Pull
Slum PartyFlood
Msg CtrlRolling Like a Stone
La GuerreViolent
Vi Tran BandAmerican Heroine
Man BearPower Slop
Crossed WiresCrossed Wires
Barry Lee, The Deli KC contributor / Signal To Noise on KKFI 90.1 FM
2013 list of homegrown specialties
Tiny Horse – “Ride” from Darkly Sparkly
The Dead Girls – “Love You To" / Signal To Noise’s Tribute To The Beatles at Knuckleheads, June 1
Cowboy Indian Bear – “Let It Down” from Live Old, Die Young
Ricky Dean Sinatra – “Werewolf” / Reunion show at Jazzhaus, July 20
Scott Hrabko – “Blue, Period” from Gone Places
Lonnie Fisher – “Ghosts Driving in My Van” from Ghosts and Dreams
Erik Voeks – “Hester A. Fish” from Finulu
The Quivers – “He Had It Coming” from Gots To Have It!
Betse Ellis – “Straight To Hell” / Wednesday MidDay Medley’s (KKFI) 500th show, November 20
Radkey – “Out Here in My Head” from Cat & Mouse
Danny R. Phillips, Deli KC contributor
Best album: Many Moods of DadThe Consequence of Trying
Best EP: Black on BlackGet On With It
Best song: Scruffy & the Janitors – “Shake It Off”
Other best albums
Pale HeartsHollowtown
Bloodbirds – Psychic Surgery
Missouri HomegrownYou Asked For It
Red KateWhen the Troubles Come
The PedaljetsWhat’s in Between
Stiff Middle FingersAt the Scene of the Crime
DsoedeanContinue to Move
The Grisly Hand – Country Singles
Best shows
Bob Mould / The Pedaljets at The Bottleneck, August 16
Lawrence Field Day Fest at The Bottleneck, July 11-13
Cupcake / Scruffy & the Janitors / Universe Contest at The Rendezvous (St. Joseph), March 22
Top 10 albums of 2013
The Grisly Hand Country Singles
Tech N9neSomething Else
Mark LowreyTangos for 18th Street
The ArchitectsBorder Wars: Episode I
Eddie Moore and the Outer CircleThe Freedom of Expression
Reggie BDNA
Cowboy Indian Bear – Live Old, Die Young
Dutch NewmanSchorre's Son
AkkillesSomething You'd Say
Steven Tulipana, co–owner of recordBar / miniBar
Favorite recordBar moments of 2013
Kishi Bashi / Plume Giant, February 17
Sonic Spectrum’s Tribute to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, May 26
Bob Log III, July 23
Richard Buckner, October 30
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Kid Congo, October 7
Found A Job performs The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, November 29

Thanks for all your support this year! We look forward to hearing more excellent music in 2014.

Also, don't forget to visit www.voteformmf.com! We have tonight and tomorrow to vote for Midwest Music Foundation, so cast your vote now!
The Deli KC staff

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Album review: Black on Black - Get On With It (EP)

At this point, it seems impossible for Lawrence band Black on Black to make a bad record, at least not in this reality. With its latest album Get On With It, Black on Black has completed its climb to the top of the heap as King Shit of Rock n Roll Mountain. It stands—in my opinion—as the best band in town, in the state, in the region, bar none. Many try gallantly and come close, but few have the realism, the emotion, or the genuine aggression that lives between the lines of every song Black on Black delivers.
The album blasts out of the gate with 2 minutes and 32 seconds of power on “Fork In The Road.” It changes speeds, throws the listener off center, and blows minds. With this album, Black on Black has managed to make their best, most powerful, grittiest music of its thus far short but stellar career. This is the band’s crown jewel of a record exploding in 12 minutes; that’s right—five songs in 12 minutes, and nary a repeated word or laziness in a chorus. Songs are written by cutting the fat, removing all bullshit, and making a punk rock record devoid of gimmicks, full of conviction and gnashed teeth spirit.
On “The Good Fight,” frontman Wade Kelly spits “I’m at the end of a short leash / I keep running,” and this is the perfect analogy for the life of Black on Black. From Help Yourself to Let’s Get Cynical and now, Get On with It, Black on Black has chiseled away at a world that tries to pigeonhole musicians, molds them for MTV, and throws them away after the powers that be tell their automatons to grow tired of their music and move to the next big thing.
With Get On With It, there seems to be no agenda other than to rip rock a new asshole. Aaron Riffel’s bass, John Benda’s drums, and Kelly’s guitar work come together in a dog fight on “Car Fire,” each trying to outdo the other while the vocals are distorted at times beyond clarity, collapsing in a pile of spent fury. As with Help Yourself and Let’s Get Cynical, pop melody does exist sporadically on Get On With It but only to push the songs deeper into your head; their catchiness deceives you, like the Serpent in the Garden, lulling you to peace, calling you to taste the fruit before you.
Black on Black has taken everything it has done in its previous EPs and mixed it all, roughed the already splintered edges, threw in influences like Death, Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, Bad Religion; and what comes pouring out is genuine, fierce, intelligent, and incendiary. While some punk bands leave me cold in my old age, getting by on regurgitated stuff to live in the shadow of perceived cool, Black on Black rings true. It’s a group that clearly does not care about being cool, but only cares about rock ‘n roll.
That's the way it should be.


This Friday, Black on Black will be celebrating the KC release of Get On With It at recordBar. Special guests include We Are Hex, Sundiver, and Wrath and Ruin. Facebook event page
--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph, MO music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others. 

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Album releases this week

April has proven to be a month of local album releases. Fourth of July, Cherokee Rock Rifle, Dead Voices, Radkey, and Reach have offered a variety of music this month, and this week with round it out with solid efforts from several bands.

Kicking it off will be Cowboy Indian Bear, who will be releasing Live Old, Die Young this Thursday, April 25 at Davey's Uptown with Palace and Heartfelt Anarchy. Show starts at 9:00 pm, $7, 21+. Facebook event page.


On Friday, The Grisly Hand releases Country Singles in grand fashion at Knuckleheads with Trevor McSpadden of The Hoyle Brothers and She's A Keeper. Show starts at 8:00 pm, $12 adv. Ticket link.


Soft Reeds will also release their second full-length album Blank City on the same evening at The Riot Room. They'll share the stage with Be/Non and Rev Gusto. Starts at 9:00 pm, $7, 21+. Facebook event page. Ticket link.


On the other side of the state line, Friday night at Replay Lounge in Lawrence will celebrate the release of Let's Get Cynical EP from Black On Black as well as The Consequence of Trying from Many Moods of Dad. Muscle Worship also plays. Starts at 9:00 pm, $3, 21+.


On Saturday night, Bears and Company will be releasing South of the Mountain at FOKL with Clairaudients and The Author & The Illustrator. Show starts at 8:00 pm, $10 adv (free download card available with pre-sale ticket), $12 door. Facebook event page.


Finally, Drew Black & Dirty Electric will be releasing its debut EP Dead Kings & Queens at The Riot Room with The Caves, The Sluts, and Knife Crime. Show starts at 9:00 pm, 21+, $5 adv, $7 door. Facebook event page. Ticket link.

--Michelle Bacon

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Band Spotlight: Black on Black

Lawrence’s own self-described American garage punk band Black on Black flies in the face of what is currently perceived, in some circles, as cool. They do not have a gimmick, they haven’t incorporated glockenspiel and banjo into the music to appease the indie kids, they do not rehash Misfits or Black Flag riffs to grab the punk vote, no. Black on Black just makes aggressive yet melodic music that gets your attention, throttles it, and refuses to let go.

The band will be releasing its second EP Let’s Get Cynical on Friday, April 26 at the Replay Lounge with Muscle Worship and Many Moods of Dad. Read our interview with them at the link here!

--Danny R. Phillips 


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