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Soft Reeds

Artists on Trial: Loose Park

We will be highlighting some of the artists playing The Deli KC’s showcase for Middle of the Map Fest next Thursday, April 3 on the Seen Merch Stage at The Riot Room patio. Today’s Artist on Trial is one of the newest rock bands in Kansas City, Loose Park.
This three-piece project is something of a supergroup, with members from well-known KC bands such as Doris Henson, Soft Reeds, and In The Pines. We talk with frontman/guitarist Matthew Dunehoo, who recently moved back to KC from New York, starting the band less than a year ago. 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
Dunehoo: Friendship-based dreamtrashcore, a manic racket made in a panicked earth basement.
The Deli: All of you have come from successful local (and otherwise) bands. Do you think all of your previous projects contribute to the overall sound of Loose Park?
Dunehoo: We consider the band to be a working tribute to the living memory of Ben Grimes.
The Deli: What do you have coming up?
Dunehoo: We recorded with Joel Nanos (Element Recording) in January and have been mixing the record at home, juicing limited means to the best of our abilities and hope to have a full-length album out this spring/summer called Monstrous. In the meantime we're writing the next record and staving off responsibilities galore.
As far as shows, the Loose Park KC Summer Tour 2014 is something we're all very stoked about! The cake icing would be an actual concert in THE Loose Park:
May 2 at Czar: First Friday/Nanci Rush’s birthday party with Rohypnol Rangers and Voodoo Stew - 11/12pm (headliners)
May 31 at The Union outdoor stage with Poison and Skid Row (tentative)
July 18 at Czar with Kangaroo Knife Fight and Molehill (Chicago) (tentative)
The Deli: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Middle of the Map this year?
Dunehoo: I hope to see Loaded Goat and Shy Boys, all locals and some friends I haven't seen yet!
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Dunehoo: Personally I'm just beginning to get a feel for how I can contribute musically to KC in 2014. I still think some of the basics are the same: Try to do something great, try to get people excited about it, try to make the time to get excited about what great things other people are trying to get others excited about. I think it means getting your butt out the door sometimes even when it feels "inconvenient." From what I've seen so far, there's a lot of interest in having bands factor into the community's identity and the "draw" to the urban core, with events such as the Crossroads block party and even that honking stage in Power & Light. How could we hijack that deal?
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Dunehoo: I think the Golden Sound Records kids and their friends are sickly talented and prolific and I love that they've created a label. Ross Brown's Fullbloods and Mat Shoare's work at the top. David Bennett as Akkilles writes music that blew me away with its beauty on his debut album. And I've always been an Anna Cole fan, hoping to work with her somehow still. Megan Birdsall is so talented and her MBird project is great but they can't play much because she's so sick, which is terrible. Dominique Sanders (bass) and the groups I've seen him play with at Green Lady Lounge—including drummer Ryan Lee—kill me every time.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
Dunehoo: NYC-based artist Lillie Jane Grey of Cellular Chaos and a project we have together called Ecstatics is someone who I adore and respect, musically and by her writing for theater. I lean on a ton of electronic music to keep me in good spirits, including Thomas Fehlmann, Loscil and Markus Guentner. Love the new Boards of Canada album. Beach House taps the blissful/melancholy vein like nobody's beeswax. And Matther McConnaughey's smoking voice in True Detective is a whole new genre of music to my ears.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Dunehoo: Bill Ning.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why? 
Dunehoo: Joe Raposo and Jim Henson get a siamese head for putting some of the first songs in my green life. Then another siamese head for Anne Murray and John Denver, who, via album cover artwork, I had crushes on when I was 2 years old. I guess it could just be four heads then, leave well enough alone.
The Deli: What other goals does Loose Park have for 2014, and beyond?
Dunehoo: Ooooooohhhhhhh mmmmmmmmmm...... I imagine there will have to be a "punk Broadway musical" better than American Idiot penned at some point. Maybe during Loose Park's ride I'll finally "find myself' as a song and dance man. I'd settle for getting [Beckie] Trost to sing with me more. And it would be good to get some music licensed and finally be able to own than rent something.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
Dunehoo: Felchbook is where it's at for now. Sorry about that. http://www.facebook.com/loosepark
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Dunehoo: I had a dream recently that's really stuck with me and if I think about it too much, I get tearful. I was looking down on this river valley from some suspended middle of the air position, and the sunlight was reflecting off of the surface of the river, brilliantly. In the water stood this hippopotamus, but it was only half of a hippopotamus, as someone or something had sliced it in half, horizontally, so that the top half of it was missing. It was like a hippopotamus bowl full of glistening intestines and organs. Slowly, I began to see other full-bodied hippopotami enter the river from the forest at the river fringes, cautiously approaching the body of their friend who was now only half there. They knew, and I knew that he had been left there like that, flayed and glistening, as a warning.
Loose Park is:
Matthew Dunehoo – guitar, vocals
Beckie Trost – bass
Mike Myers – drums
Don’t forget to check out Loose Park at The Deli KC’s showcase at Middle of the Map Fest next Thursday, April 3. They will take the Seen Merch stage on The Riot Room patio at 11:00 p.m. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays bass in The Philistines and Dolls on Fire, and drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric.

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Album review: Soft Reeds - Blank City

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

When you go out and see live music, preferably a lot of live music (as you all should, y’know), you occasionally find yourself witnessing a performance that gives you the sense of something really big on the horizon. When Soft Reeds played the 2012 Middle of the Map Festival, I happened to be front and center for their set at recordBar. They ran through several songs that evening that I hadn’t heard before, and frontman/guitarist Ben Grimes said they were tracks from their still-being-written next album. Since then I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that, based on the five tunes they performed, their follow-up to 2010’s Soft Reeds Are Bastards was going to be a monster. One year later, the band has released its second full-length album, Blank City—and it would seem as if I got this one right.
The core four from their Bastards album—Grimes, percussionist Josh Wiedenfeld, multi-instrumental man John Mitchell, and funk mistress Beckie Trost on bass—were joined soon after by Jeffrey Harvey, whose keyboards and backing vocals added that extra bit of something that helped to pull the rest of the band into a more cohesive unit. Blank City comes in at a taut 31 minutes over its eleven-track playlist, and very few moments will leave the listener with the desire to sit still. “Pregnant Actress” is a case in point, as Trost’s effortless groove lays the foundation for what could pass for a lost classic from the heyday of Studio 54. The influence of Berlin-era Bowie can be found throughout the album, with “Nothing Changes” particularly showcasing angular, jagged guitar riffage—it’ll cut up some eardrums, without question. Grimes’ vocals are once again at their machine-gun-staccato best, which serves to augment the edgy arrangements that make Blank City a splendiferous indie-dance-floor classic in the making. 
Not every track follows the same game plan of getting people on their feet—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The opener, “17,” is a brief aside to a Moroccan marketplace where spices and savory goods are openly displayed for all to enjoy. “Hospitality” is an unexpected course-change that shows Soft Reeds can do more than just attack: they can musically woo as well, and who doesn’t like a little musical wooing now and then? And the album’s closer, “A Hysterical Woman,” once again proffers the Middle Eastern vibe of the opener, but instead of an open market you’re in a trendy hookah bar, zoning out on the smoke and the rhythm and Mitchell’s snake-like sax work.
Soft Reeds put down their sounds in the studios of Element Recording, whose owner, Joel Nanos, says of Blank City: “Truly one of the best albums to have graced this place.” Whether it was the surroundings, the move from a four-piece to a five-piece band, the cohesion of creativity and ability intersecting at just the right time, or a combination of all of the above, there is no doubt that the thoughts I had regarding this album a year ago have been validated. This is more than an improvement or a natural progression from their previous work; this is a band hitting on all cylinders, and they know it. The confidence, the tightness, the swagger … they’re all there. In abundance.
They may not be bastards anymore—but they’re hardly soft, either.
Soft Reeds will be celebrating the release of Blank City in Kansas City this Friday, April 26 at The Riot Room with special guests Be/Non and Rev Gusto. Facebook event page. Ticket link. And next Friday, May 3, the band will venture out to Lawrence with The Caves and Schwervon! to release the album at Replay Lounge. Facebook event page. You can purchase Blank City on iTunes and/or pre-order the vinyl with immediate digital download at The Record Machine Store.

--Michael Byars

Michael Byars is a self-confessed music junkie, used to drink Mountain Dew as if his life depended on it, has a second career in England as a juggling busker waiting for him if he wants, and once nearly made a purple-haired record store employee shoot tofu out of her nose. How many of you can say THAT, bitchez? 

(Video from I Heart Local Music)

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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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Show preview: Sonic Spectrum Dealer's Choice at recordBar, 7.29.12

If you haven't been to one of the shows in the Sonic Spectrum Tribute Series at recordBar, this is one to experience. Since debuting the series last January, host Robert Moore has selected local bands and musicians to play songs of eclectic artists like David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Neil Diamond, The Clash, and most recently, Minutemen.

This Sunday, Moore will be celebrating his birthday and has handpicked a few Kansas City musicians to play songs of his choosing, from artists as diverse as Bauhaus, XTC, The Beatles, Loretta Lynn, Devo, T.Rex, and many others. Performances will be from some of Moore's (and Kansas City's) favorite musicians:
Erik Voeks & His Merry Men: Erik Voeks, Cameron Hawk (The Dead Girls, Hidden Pictures), Dave Tanner (The Depth & The Whisper, Liverpool), Patrick Hawley (The What Gives), Cody Wyoming 
Tiny Horse (Abigail Henderson and Chris Meck) featuring Zach Phillips (The Architects), Matt Richey (The Grisly Hand) and Cody Wyoming
And Moore promises a few other surprises, so be there if you can.
Doors: 7 pm
Showtime: 8:00 pm
$7 cover; A portion of the proceeds from this show goes to Midwest Music Foundation.

Upcoming Sonic Spectrum tributes include:
August: Fela Kuti, featuring Hearts of Darkness
September: The Doors
October: The Ramones
November: Devo
December: The Rat Pack

--Michelle Bacon

Show review: Drop A Grand/The Quivers/Radkey/Soft Reeds at recordBar, 6.30.12

(Pictured above: Isaiah Radke of Radkey)

recordBar was home to a diverse showcase of local musicians on Saturday night, handpicked by Sonic Spectrum host Robert Moore. Drop A Grand, The Quivers, Radkey, and Soft Reeds played to an interested and expectant crowd.

The night started out with Drop a Grand.  This was my first experience of them, and indeed an experience they are. Electronically playful costumed noise punk like AC/DC, the Sex Pistols, and Elton John getting lost in the keyboard room at Guitar Center. The songs were short, loud, and brash, often sounding like the musical version of a stoned teenager fumbling at the top button of his high school sweetheart’s skinny jeans.  The wolf playing bass (Steven Tulipana) brought the technological side, often howling into the microphone through various processed effects. Overall, fun and interesting.

Kansas City's Motown napalm darlings, The Quivers followed Drop A Grand. A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n’ roll, a little bit Carrie Fisher with a flamethrower, their groovy tunes really got Ricardo dancing. Their set was quick, no nonsense, and a hell of a lot of fun. The well-dressed band jumped from song to song, never letting the sweaty crowd get too much of a break from the groovy vintage tunes. The set really picked up steam in the second half when vocalist Terra Peal let her voice play in the sandbox a little. Her vocals carry a combination of pure power and snarl that contrasts wonderfully with the organ and guitars beneath.

Next up were the young men from St Joseph, Radkey. Sporting clean cheeks, dreadlocks, and one fantastically groomed Billy Dee Williams moustache, they brought a simplistic and raw energy to the night.  Their straightforward rock n roll borders on radio metal at times and is the perfect music to nervously bite your fingernails to. It comes across as a young man’s Van Halen/Misfits mash up, minus the chainsaw guitar solos and the really, really short bodybuilder singer obviously compensating for something. They were tight, strong, and kept the crowd (who mostly seemed to be there for them) cheering for more.

Finishing out the evening were the hipster prophets themselves, Soft Reeds. Easily the most seasoned and talkative group of the night, Soft Reeds brought the show home with their energetic blend of dance rock. Despite their best effort to emulate The Killers or Franz Ferdinand, the Soft Reeds pop more when they allow themselves wade into the Talking Heads side of the pool. That said, they showed a true mastery over the cliffhanger art of dynamically building songs up to almost the brink of bursting only to stop them suddenly. It is certainly good music to not think too hard about and just sway side to side.

--Zach Hodson

Zach is a lifetime Kansas City resident who plays multiple instruments and sings in Dolls on Fire, as well as contributing to many other Kansas City music, art, and comedy projects.  He is very fond of edamame, treats his cat Wiley better than he treats himself, and doesn't want to see pictures of your newborn child (seriously, it looks like a potato).

Photos © Todd Zimmer, 2012. Please do not use without permission.


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