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Brenton Cook

Album review: Jorge Arana Trio - OSO (EP)

In some way, cognizant or not, we all have a sense of rhythm and melody. A sense of timing and movement. Syncopated patterns and angular guitar lines run amok on the latest release by Jorge Arana Trio, OSO. The rhythms and melodies are complex while still maintaining a sense of empathy. I find myself dissecting each song, counting and searching for the root, which inevitably changes right when I think I've found it.
While you might not find this trio in the more frequented jazz houses of Kansas City, you will find them in every other venue—including house parties and DIY clubs, maintaining a level of energy and expertise leading whatever room they occupy.
OSO opens with a wacky, groovy, psychedelic track called "Foredoom" that illustrates the extent to which the trio can roam. "Kallisto" reminds me of music I might hear at a late-night club in the basement of an abandoned building. Aggressive, but still retains a sense of true jazz musicianship and syncopation. On this track, the trio locks into some deep grooves. It's short and sweet and gets right to the point. 
"Crime of Passion Fruit" amazes me how it rolls over half step variations and moves in quick succession. Let the reverb reign! 
"Old Bamboo" keeps the energy rolling with surfesque lead lines by Arana, while drummer Josh Enyart and bassist Jason Nash tear through patterns and rhythms without missing a beat (literally). 
"Banished to Siberia" is my favorite of the five-track EP. This song, to me, exemplifies the trio's expertise in experimental/psychedelic/jazz rock. If this song where a dish, it would be some kind of unique soup that has healing powers only served to the bravest of eaters. I feel cleansed of all things boring and/or monotonous after hearing this track.
Jorge Arana Trio has proven through relentless live shows, and most recently on OSO, that experimentation and writing outside the box is something we can all relate to. Please indulge in this release. You will not be disappointed and will surely expand your groovy senses.
OSO was engineered by Joel Nanos and Vincent Lawhon, and mixed/mastered by Nanos at Element Recording. The album has been released by Haymaker Records.
Make sure to show some love by attending their record release show this Saturday, July 19, at recordBar with David Hasselhoff on Acid, In the Shadow, and High MagicFacebook event page.
--Josh Simcosky

Josh is a KC native that loves anything meat- or tube-driven related. He also plays guitar for Leering Heathens and Sharp Weapons. 

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Midwest Music Foundation Staff Spotlight: Brenton Cook

(Photo by Forester Michael) 
The Midwest Music Foundation staff constantly works behind the scenes at live music events you have likely attended. They’re the ones who search for facilities, supply entertainment, coordinate with vendors, and generally ensure that your live music experience will be a good one. They’re also the ones that get the word out about musicians’ health care and other educational resources for musicians, filling a vital gap in the community.
Before the advent of the sixth annual Apocalypse Meow benefit, we hear back from some of the staff to find out what they do and why they do it. We’re talking here with Brenton Cook, Web Admin and Music Promotions Assistant.
The Deli: When and how did you first get involved with MMF?
Brenton: I guess MMF first came to my attention around 2010 as I was heading down to attend my first SXSW. That first year [the MMF showcase] was called Midwasteland Takeover and I had an absolute blast down there. In 2011 after spending some time with the staff at Murder Ballad Ball, I decided to volunteer some of my time and filled out the online volunteer form online at work one day. I heard back from Rhonda within an hour and I've been spending time on various projects with them ever since.
The Deli: What is your current role with the organization?
Brenton: My background is computers, particularly software programming. There was a real need for someone to handle all of the web updates when I started, so it just seemed natural that that's where I could help out best, so I've been the web administrator since I started, but I work on a lot of different stuff. You'll find me behind the MMF booth at a lot of events, or asking questions at the Musicians' Bootcamp, or working with bands to get tracks contributed for MidCoast Takeover samplers or the Midwestern Audio compilation series that I have been assembling.
The Deli: Why is MMF such an important cause to you? What do you hope it will accomplish in the future?
Brenton: I've always been such a music nerd and even though my experience in physically creating music is limited, I feel like I have a really good ear for it and a genuine passion to push Kansas City music further. That's one thing that I’ve found to be so great about MMF: the idea of helping form this community of musicians and music enthusiasts and make the most out of what is already here. And there are so many very talented musicians in this area. I'd like to see MMF continue to grow and provide more opportunities for everyone; be it more exposure, more musical connections or better health care and easier access to emergency medical funds. There are several similar organizations that are thriving in other music cities that I think serve as a good guide for what we could grow into.
The Deli: Who are some of your favorite local artists?
The Deli: Do you have a favorite memory of a past Meow? 
Brenton: Last year's Meow was pretty memorable. It was at the cavernous Beaumont Club, but we still did a pretty good job of filling the room, and the love and support was really felt. My favorite memory from Meow though was a sealed envelope casually handed into our donation jar. I knew the person who put it in there and couldn't resist opening it at the end of the night as we were counting up the proceeds. I was surprised to see a crisp $100 bill, and I knew that this was from a person that normally has to watch every dollar spent. It was a strange feeling at first, but I knew that this person wanted to share what they had with their music community.
The Deli: What are you most looking forward to about this year's Meow?
Brenton: I'm very interested to see Chris Meck’s new trio (The Guilty Birds) play songs for the first time. I just feel like this is going to be something really special. I'm also excited that day two is at Knuckleheads this year. I can't wait to see Meow fill that space full of people enjoying the music and be a witness to the outpouring of support for the local music community.
Say hello to Brenton this weekend at Apocalypse Meow. It starts tomorrow, November 1 at The Midwestern Musical Co. and Saturday at Knuckleheads. Doors open at 6 pm both nights. Friday’s show is free and all ages, Saturday’s show is $10, 21+. Visit http://www.apocalypsemeow.net for a full lineup and schedule. Ticket linkFacebook event page. To find out more about MMF, visit http://midwestmusicfound.org, and learn about Abby's Fund for musicians' health care. 

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Album review: Midwestern Audio, Vol. 2 - Electric Hullabaloo

(Photos by Todd Zimmer)
Love letters are funny things. The communique between two besotted people is such a private thing. Midwest Music Foundation has taken to writing very public love letters the last few years. The most recent being the release of Midwestern Audio: Volume 2: Electric Hullabaloo. The sampling of Kansas City music covers many genres and shares the talent and passion of Kansas City area musicians with fans and the uninitiated alike. Electric Hullabaloo kicks off with the catchy pop of Rev Gusto’s (pictured below) “Boys Are at it Again” and moves slowly into more straight forward rock and roll via Sons of Great Dane’s “Approximately 18th St.” The first three songs are rounded out by all-out-bare-knuckles-rock-and-roll with Cherokee Rock Rifle’s “Six to Midnight.” The initial offering is finished off by the fourth track, “Divorce Sea,” from Lawrence-based distorted punk-laced garage rock band Bloodbirds.
Lest the listener think pop and rock are the extent of the musical offerings in Kansas City, Electric Hullabaloo gives you musical whiplash by offering the sonic stylings of “Animate” by Middle Twin. The electronic indie band flawlessly flows into Heartscape Landbreak’s “God Money Problems’” fuzzy guitars, melodic lyrics, and speech sampling. Victor & Penny’s early twentieth-century rock and roll pulls you into each punctuated note on “Rickshaw Chase” and segues into the next chapter of the record.
This love letter has something for everyone, no matter your “type.” Dead Voices carry on the tradition of sad songs in happy keys as they bounce along through “Trust of a Fool.” Olassa delivers “Podner” with a deceptively slow start and then hits their indie folk groove with staccato guitar and subdued harmony. The mood mellows with The Silver Maggies’ “Slow Poke” and its smoky, gravel-laden vocals and keening harmonica.
Midwestern Audio’s compiler and mastermind, Brenton Cook, picks up the pace with Betse Ellis’s fiery fiddle in “Long Time to Get There.” The happy vibe of Metatone’s “Dark Empress” pulses with African-influenced beats and a nearly monotone lead vocal that clashes in the best way with the peppy popsplosion pulsing behind it. Spirit is the Spirit (pictured at top of article) follows with a throbbing beat, the distorted remnants of 60’s television science reporting, and angelic moaning in “I Believe That We Will Win.”
Margo May appears next as a counterpoint to the multi-faceted Metatone and Spirit is the Spirit tracks. Chanelling Lisa Loeb’s Firecracker, May offers a simple acoustic guitar and a broken heart’s lament. “Close the Door” spills into “Broken Wing” by Sam Billen, maintaining a similar tone and emotional state. Billen’s is a song you would like to put on at the end of the day to ease your transition home. Like a sonic bucket of water thrown on your sleeping ears, Drew Black & Dirty Electric pounce on you with “Love & A Riot.” The driving rock and roll beat and theatrical saucy spoken word “I love you. Let’s riot,” is reminiscent of Rocky Horror Picture show. Six Percent’s “Live Out Loud” is evocative of early Green Day, if Green Day had a horn section. Pounding drums and slamming vocals urge listeners to stand up and listen.
Heartfelt Anarchy’s “Funk” opens with horns in a dramatically different sound from the way Six Percent blasted them. Undulating horns flow under Les Izmore’s lyrics and the song exits on shimmering tambourine and harmonica. The experimental music of Various Blonde’s “Blind Samurai” sounds, oddly enough, like The Kinky Wizards in High Fidelity (which is really Royal Trux “The Inside Game”). You just can’t stop listening to the guitar riffs and space sounds twisted all around a manic beat. Furthering your trip down the rabbit hole of experimental music, David Hasselhoff on Acid rides into your eardrums on a wave of weedling guitars and in-your-face drums. Bowing in and out of the speed and thrust of loud and high sounds and the simplicity of drums and guitar, “Breakfast” will either make you lose yours or ask for seconds. The farewell of this love letter from Kansas CIty music is Jorge Arana Trio (pictured below). The experimental noise-rock of “Catching Bullets with Your Teeth” dodges in and out of instrumental traffic to express a frantic conversation.
To us, from the Midwest Music Foundation and the musicians of Kansas City, this love letter expresses the passion of expression that must be released lest the heart of the musician explode. Enjoy.

 --Angela Lupton 

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Album review: Midwestern Audio Vol. 1, from Midwest Music Foundation

(Design and illustration by Ryan Comiskey)

With a generous helping of diverse musical ranges and genres, Midwest Music Foundation's Midwestern Audio Vol. 1 is undoubtedly The Deli KC's October CD of the month. Including 41 tracks from some of Kansas City's most talented musical acts, there's something for any musical fan.

The double CD compilation was assembled by Brenton Cook. It ebbs and flows between catchy pop beats and psychedelic freeform sounds, and then between metal and gentle folk tunes. The album bursts out of the gate with "Coming On" from Antennas Up. The band's smile-inducing, warm harmonies gear the listener up for what's to follow. Everyday/Everynight transitions in smoothly with "Body Electric," a more ambient, darker sound, but containing the same exuberance as the lead-off track. By track three, the listener is sucked in. Though "Fanclub" is tinged with a dark mood, it's an intensely danceable song that gives us a sampling of the characteristic style of Molly Picture Club.

And this is how smoothly the compilation rolls through. Each song flows into the other, even if it transitions from a straight hip-hop jam like Reach's "Move" to Be/Non's beatastic mindfuck "Yoko's Alright." One of the most brilliant parts of this compilation is the gems that can be found throughout. Some of Kansas City's most well-known bands like The Hearts of Darkness and The Latenight Callers are featured alongside newer acts like Schwervon!, relatively unknown bands like Eyelit, and established local legends like Howard Iceberg. Each track stands on its own feet but collectively breathes the spirit of Kansas City music today.

Les Izmore's rhythmic flow in "Debt on Me" delivers just as strongly as Marco Pascolini's squealing guitar in "Sparkin Your Mama Sweet 2," and also in "King of the Soapbox Derby." The album comes to a twisting downturn in Cowboy Indian Bear's "The Hunter and the Hunted," and briefly exhales at "Six Foot Dreams." And that's just disc one.

If unprepared, "Diablo Diablo" will blow the listener away with John Bersuch's tribal drum beats. The second disc gives no warning that it will relentlessly but pleasantly bash you with infectious pop hits from The ACB's and The Empty Spaces into fiercer, bolder rock from The Beautiful Bodies, finally toppling you over with Terra Peal's brazen, unbridled screams in "Blue Light." Then another short breath into Lauren Krum and Jimmy Fitzner's serene country vocal melodies, and the album takes a rootsier direction, which builds up to crotch-kicking screams from The Atlantic and double-bass tremors from Hammerlord. Yet again, it manages to cool itself off into an assuaging denouement.

First, it winds its way back into a hypnotizing tone from Expo '70 and Umberto and levels off with entrancing but accessible offerings from Akkilles and Katlyn Conroy's project La Guerre. In the last moments of the compilation, we get a prolific, sincere delivery from Abigail Henderson. There seems to be no more fitting of a choice to end this album than with the intimate sounds of Tiny Horse in "Ride." The honesty of this final track makes it an astounding culmination of songs from a bill of fine acts. The emotions gleaned from Henderson's words and Chris Meck's complementary guitar melodies speak the strongest volumes of any track present. And with that heartstring-tugging grasp, it lets go.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. Her favorite pastime is wearing hoodies and drinking hot tea.

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Spotlight: Midwestern Audio - A Local Compilation CD Release Party

This Sunday, Midwest Music Foundation will be presenting a local compilation CD release party at the recordBar, featuring a sampling of Kansas City's hottest bands.

We sat down with MMF's Brenton Cook, who compiled the CDs, to find out more about the compilation and the bands he's excited to highlight in it.

The DeliWhat gave you the idea for making a compilation?

Brenton: I have always appreciated listening to and receiving compilations and mixtapes, particularly if there is a great theme to it or it is targeted to a certain area's music scene. I always enjoyed getting a really great free local compilation, I can think of a handful of them that have been put out on CD documenting the Kansas City music scene the last decade or so. Some of the KJHK samplers come to mind, as well as the Dandercroft 'zine CDs, a Kansas City/Cleveland Pabst Blue Ribbon compilation, and earlier Midwest Music Foundation SXSW previews. It had been awhile since anything like this had been put out for free and in CD form and distributed around the city. So many artists are recording or putting out records right now and it seems that the momentum of music in Kansas City is greater than it has ever been.  I wanted to catch a snapshot of this place in time in the Kansas City music scene and present it freely so that everyone could enjoy. I proposed the idea to Midwest Music Foundation and was met with positive feedback about the idea of the project.

The Deli: Were there any bands you thought of immediately when thinking about putting this together?

Brenton: Certainly. Some of Kansas City's staple bands like Hearts of Darkness, The Grisly Hand, The Beautiful Bodies, Cowboy Indian Bear, Soft Reeds, and The ACBs were no-brainers. I wanted to reach out to the Golden Sound Records and The Record Machine labels because I appreciated a lot of the things that they are doing in this city right now. Basically, I just wanted to get some of the heaviest hitters that I could get that would best represent the quality and diversity of music in Kansas City that would be willing to contribute a track for the compilation and put together the best thing that I could. The response was so overwhelming that it ended up having to become a double CD.

The Deli: Any surprises in here? Bands/songs that we might not be familiar with? Any unreleased material?

Brenton: Part of the idea of this project was to get some material that couldn't be found anywhere else. I got brand new tracks that have yet to be released by The Blackbird Revue, Diverse, Hammerlord, Expo '70, Dollar Fox, and Cadillac Flambe. Tiny Horse recorded a new track in studio just for the compilation and The Conquerors submitted a practice space recording.  Monta at Odds and Be/Non submitted unreleased tracks that were recorded years ago and now have a home. I have a demo version of a new Cowboy Indian Bear track that will appear on their next album.  Perhaps my favorite track on the compilation is a reworked version of Hidden Pictures' "Something to Eat," that was released on their first album, but this version has whole new accompaniment. I'm really hyping up this band Eyelit.  I stumbled on them from Noisetrade and was surprised to see they were from St. Joseph. Anyway, I really like their Swell Season-like sound and hope they can play more in Kansas City. I had a great experience catching the more experimental acts at the KC Psych Fest this year and wanted to incorporate a few of those bands (Monta at Odds, Expo '70, Gemini Revolution, Be/Non,The Conquerors, Umberto, Mr. Marco's V7. These may be a bit off of the radar and I thought this material needed to be shared with those unfamiliar with them.

The Deli: What new local bands are you most excited about?

Brenton: Quiet Corral, Antennas Up, and Schwervon! are all a great listen. Quite a few of the acts on this compilation got me an advanced copy of their latest single or album and I'm very much looking forward to seeing some of these recordings performed live. I like a lot of the stuff that Golden Sound Records is putting out. I'm excited to see what Reach has in store for everybody at the record release show.
For more info and a complete track listing, please click on the link here.

The show begins at 7:00 pm at the recordBar this Sunday, September 23. $10 will get you in the door and you'll be able to take home a free double CD. Gemini Revolution takes the stage first, followed by Reach (with Diverse), then Grand Marquis, Antennas Up, and Everyday/Everynight. 18+. Facebook event page here.

Also sponsored by Ink Magazine.

--Michelle Bacon

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