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August 2015
LOUDS
"If More People Bought Art More People Would Buy Art
"
mp3
With their debut EP If More People Bought Art More People Would Buy Art, LOUDS hits the nail on the head with its appealing out of the gates energy. Released via Color Theory Records, the Brett Boucher-produced EP instantly grabs a hold of the body’s desire to let loose. 
 
The group leads with its best foot forward with its debut single and album opener, “Ways.” The standout track has a warm, vamping synth and those dare-you-to-keep-your-hands-still claps, which are melded with the sugary, chiptune sonic blasts. That bubbly, dance-inspiring vibe is cut through and juxtaposed by lyrics that form the picture of a hot and cold relationship. “The love you’ve known sailed from you one evening, months have gone now you don’t feel the same.”
 
Wisps of light guitar, keys, and gentle percussion converge in the narrative of  “Lying in the Middle” with its upbeat Paul Simon-Graceland vibes. The rolling hills that are ready to break out with exasperations chronicling the fickle courtship. “It’s the wrong way to approach it, but I know that your heartaches after months of feeling kind of confused. One day I’ll be lying in the middle with you.” The song concludes whimsically with Beatles-esque harmonies:  “My arms are tired, I’m half awake, but finally there with you.”
 
From the alarm bell, to the to the approaching bass and organ tone leading into those sinister strings, anticipation rapidly builds in “Driving Us Together.”Once again, the band dives into the complexity of relationships. Amid that layered fluid instrumentation, which creeps and momentarily bursts, underlies a sincere thought: “I’ve been trying to forget you but I don’t know how. Driving us together don’t erase your doubt.” The song simplifies down to a strumming guitar as echoes of “goodbye” come through before meeting up with the heartbroken chorus.
 
Strumming sets off into the echo of menacing tumbling keys in the chest-thumping, never-tell tale “It Takes Two.” “We’re alone in your best friend’s basement. You’re the one who brought me down... As we talking my hearts raising, I hope you don’t figure out” leading into the smoothed chorus: “Cause everybody knows it takes two…” That weaving in and out creates a lively yet personal sense.
 
If More People Bought Art More People Would Buy Art threads a layered vibrant in-motion musicality with a relatable multifaceted tug and pull aspect of intimacy, zooming in on all sides while never sitting still. The EP is an impressive debut from the fledgling electropop outfit that ends way sooner than you’d like it to conclude. - Michael Colavita

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August 2015
HMPH!
"Headrush
"
mp3
Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
 
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
 
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”
 

At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.” 

HMPH! pushes musical boundaries with Headrush

Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
 
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
 
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”
 
At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.”
 
 
Join HMPH! on Friday at Harling’s Upstairs. They’ll be releasing Headrush through Haymaker Records. Vinyl and cassette copies of the album will be available for purchase. Preorder here. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. 


Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear celebrate a homecoming

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
The last time Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear took the main stage at The Midland, they were opening up for B.B. King in one of his final performances. At this point, last October, the mother/son duo was just being introduced to listeners not just around the country, but in their hometown as well. They had recently been signed to Glassnote Records after wowing a roomful of record executives in Muscle Shoals and playing a secret showcase at Third Man Records in Nashville during the Americana Music Festival.
 
Not long before that, Ruth and Madisen Ward were playing to small but enthusiastic audiences in and around their hometown of Independence. Ruth has been a musician for most of her life, playing the Midwestern circuit as a folk songwriter in the early ‘70s. She returned to music after her three children had grown, and her youngest son Madisen began accompanying her to coffeehouse gigs, sometimes joining her for a few songs. Like his mother, Madisen began writing songs as a teenager, finding his footing as a musician while accompanying Ruth on these shows. “The style we play is different than what my mom was playing in the ‘70s, and I came to music later, so I see it differently,” says Madisen, who has since fallen into the role of chief songwriter. “Eventually, my mom gave me the reins and told me to write.” While Madisen constructs a song's general melody and lyrics, his mom helps with song development, bridges, and harmonies. The two have found major success with this formula, creating a unique, moving brand of Americana music.
 
All of this is why their performance this Thursday is a bit of a homecoming. This will be Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear’s first major headlining show in Kansas City, after a slew of achievements that include appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Later... With Jools Holland; opening slots for a broad scope of acts like The Pixies, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The Tallest Man on Earth; and prestigious spots at events like Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Fest. They’ll also be bringing a full band with them this time, with Kansas City musicians Tom Hudson on drums and Brent Kastler on bass, as well as Larissa Maestro on cello.
 
But this sudden onslaught of triumphs—which also include a European tour (and another on the way, with Sufjan Stevens) and the acclaimed release of their debut LP Skeleton Crew in May—is not without its challenges. “Your creative routine has to be altered,”  mentions Madisen. “We used to be able to sit in the dining room and bounce ideas off each other. I still write when we’re on the road, but it’s a different dynamic that you have to learn to juggle.”
 
On the flip side, the two have found that success has great rewards. “The whole thing is the people,” says Madisen. “It’s a very personable career that really revolves around human interaction, and the energy of a room. All of these different people we get to meet have different stories.” Stories, perhaps, that will find their way into the duo’s music one day.
 
Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear will be playing at  Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland with special guests Luluc, an Australian folk duo, on Thursday night. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
 
 
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is the editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
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This week's releases

Several KC-area bands will be releasing tracks or albums this week:
 
Bad Wheels / Bad Wheels (EP)
 
 
This heavy-riffin’ four-piece rock collective is releasing its debut self-titled EP tomorrow (Tuesday) through Bandcamp; you can download the 6-track album, or purchase a limited-run cassette with a download card. You can also pick up a cassette and hear some of these tunes on Saturday at Harling’s Upstairs, where the group will be performing with StrawBilly.
 
 
Shades of Jade / “That One”
 
 
Shades of Jade will be releasing a single from their forthcoming album Fingerprinted Memories: Part II Sketches of the Heart this Thursday. That evening, the eclectic jazz group will take the stage at The Blue Room. The band will also be talking with Mark Manning on Wednesday Midday Medley this week, on 90.1 FM KKFI at 10:30 a.m. Preorder the track on iTunes. Facebook event page. #thatone
 
 
HMPH! / Headrush
 
 
On Friday night, math rock duo HMPH! will be celebrating the release of its debut full-length album Headrush on Haymaker Records. The band will have vinyl copies for sale that evening at Harling’s Upstairs. Rhunes and Arc Flash will also play. Facebook event page.
 

Radkey / Dark Black Makeup
 
 
The wait for Radkey’s long-awaited debut LP, Dark Black Makeup (Little Man Records) will also end Friday. The boys kick off a 2-week European tour in Belgium on Thursday, but their next appearance in the area will be September 25 at The Bottleneck. The album is now available to stream via Spin. Preorder the album here.
 

 
 
Danielle Nicole Band is the project of former Trampled Under Foot singer/bassist Danielle Nicole Schnebelen. The group released its debut self-titled EP earlier this year, and will release Wolf Den this Saturday at Knuckleheads Saloon. Grand Marquis will open. Preorder Wolf Den here. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
 
Saturday will also mark the release of Radiant Man on UniGlobe Records. A Crooked Mile will be playing at recordBar that evening with Kristie Stremel’s Pet Project and Carswell & Hope. They will also be featured on Wednesday Midday Medley this week, at 11:00 a.m.
 
 

--Michelle Bacon 


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