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isaac flynn

Album review: Hembree - New Oasis (EP)

Music—writing songs that resonate with people, observing snapshots in time, and reconciling emotions in one’s head—can be cathartic and somewhat serious business. Out of a conversation with Hembree singer/guitarist/songwriter Isaac Flynn, you get very little of that. The guy is just really nice. He says early in the conversation that they “want to make fun music.” New Oasis, Hembree’s eagerly awaited debut EP, does just that. In spades.   
From the ashes of Lawrence/KC group Quiet Corral rose Hembree. This quintet—the remainder of the QC members after vocalist/guitarist Jesse Roberts departed—took stock of its situation and instead of going their separate ways, they seized—as Flynn tells it, the “opportunity to create something totally different.” Take a liberal dose of supremely fresh Americana and add to it a couple scoops of vintage keyboards and beats and you’re beginning to get the idea.
New Oasis is, from front to back, a journey of gritty and honest vocals, dreamy and ethereal harmonies, beautifully constructed guitar layers, a near perfect rhythm section, and killer keyboards that provide a yin to the roots rock yang. The lyrics come from the heart as well; all drawn from, as Flynn asserts, “my life experience and those close to me.” He fills pages, his mobile phone memo app, and has even inundated the memory in his car’s onboard voice memo storage with lyrics he sings aloud to remember tune ideas that randomly pop into his head. 
“It’s like an ‘80s band decided to become an Americana band but forgot to tell the keyboard player,” he explains. Well said. 
The feel of New Oasis is poppy but real. Many of Hembree’s musical influences such as Tom Petty, Hall & Oates, and Tears For Fears can be heard, but with a definite modern freshness. Hembree has taken these filters and molded them into a remarkably cohesive sound that literally anyone could listen to and find a slice that inspires them and leaves them wanting more. 
The opener, “Whistler,” is a longing introduction that sucks you in with an Alan Parsons-ish vibe and is followed by the hopeful title track, which seems to spell out the bright outlook of this group that—in spite of their losses—sees only promise for the future. “Subtle Step” is a downright infectious number (I’ve had it in my head for literally days) that would be perfectly placed on the soundtrack for Real Genius or Weird Science. “October” is that perfect, lovely mixture of the Americana/synth compound: Equal parts Tom Petty, a wide-open Midwestern twang, and OMD. “Walk Alone” is a modern and somewhat lonely song that belies its outwardly upbeat meter. The hooky and interplaying vocals, dynamics, and immaculate guitar riffs make this one as strong as any cut from the record. “Six Years” closes it out with greater guitar fuzz and an earnest entreat: Meet me on the other side / Where there’s time to learn this life.
New Oasis has focus, it has balance, and it has integrity. My only complaint about the record is that it’s too short. As to Hembree’s goal of making “fun music”? Check that one off the bucket list, guys.
Hembree is:
Jim Barnes: Drums, vocals
Garrett Childers: Guitar, vocals
Eric Davis: keys 
Isaac Flynn: Guitar, vocals
Matt Green: Bass
--Jeff Stalnaker
Jeff Stalnaker plays in a local band and can open a beer bottle with his wedding ring.
Hembree will be celebrating the release of New Oasis in Lawrence this Saturday, January 31, at the Granada Theater. It’s an all ages, free show sponsored by KJHK, with special guests Paper Buffalo, Ebony Tusks, and The Phantastics. Facebook event page.

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Spotlight on Plaza Art Fair artist: Hembree

(Photo by Rusty Wright, The Waldron Photograph Co.)

This week, we’ll be highlighting some of the artists playing INK’s stage at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend, September 19-21.
With the release of a brand-new single and its upcoming debut performance, Hembree is picking up where Quiet Corral left off, but with a renewed vigor and sensibility.
The group—who makes up five of the six members of Quiet Corral (vocalist/guitarist Jesse Roberts left the band last year, shortly after the release of its debut album Ancestors)—retains much of its former identity of compelling, captivating Americana, but with a pop appeal.
Hembree’s lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Isaac Flynn answers some questions about the new outfit and what we have to look forward to from them.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
Flynn: I’d like to think that our music sounds like a 1980s pop band that decided to start an Americana rock band, but they forgot to tell the keyboard player.
The Deli: How long have you all been making music under this moniker?
Flynn: The lineup is all of the remaining members from Quiet Corral. It consists of Garrett Childers, Jim Barnes, Zach Mehl, Matt Green, and myself.
We had talked about starting a band called Hembree as soon as Quiet Corral ended in October of 2013. During our time in the studio throughout 2014, we came up with several other names, but for some reason we couldn’t escape Hembree. We have a great friend named Hembree, and he was instrumental in convincing me to write more music after QC ended. His encouragement meant a ton to us, but we also just thought he had a really sweet name.
The Deli: Your appearance at Plaza Art Fair will be your debut as Hembree. Since disbanding Quiet Corral, what has changed about your music and how have you grown from that experience?
Flynn: So much has changed since Quiet Corral. Several of us were very young when we started Quiet Corral. Like 19 years young. I remember a show in Bowling Green, KY, where our bassist Matt [Green] and I had to watch the headliner play through a window because we weren’t legally allowed in the venue. We learned so much during that time period, and now we are trying to take what we learned in Quiet Corral and apply it to Hembree.

We were incredibly serious about everything in Quiet Corral. While we still hold ourselves to a high standard musically, we’ve learned to have way more fun throughout the entire creative process.
The Deli: You just released the single "New Oasis.” Are you going to release an album with it? What can listeners expect from the new material?
Flynn: We are planning to release an EP later this year. We kind of holed up in the studio, and we’re starting to show folks what we made. It was an amazing experience. We had no expectations or deadlines. We’re excited for everyone to hear the songs.
The new material is going to have some of the elements that listeners enjoyed with Quiet Corral, along with a heavy focus on melody, electric guitar, and keyboards.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Flynn: For me, supporting local music means getting to know as many people as possible in our music community. I’m an audio engineer, and I’m very fortunate to have worked with a lot of bands from Kansas City and Lawrence. I’ve learned that we have some of the most talented and genuinely amazing individuals living in our area. Whether they’re musicians, promoters, journalists, DJs, fans, etc., KC has some incredible people. I love how supportive musicians are of other musicians in the community.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
Flynn: In no particular order…
CJ Calhoun (Cowboy Indian Bear): CJ is a dear friend of mine, and he happens to be one of the most talented musicians I know. CJ has the unique ability to craft infectious music with just the right amount of darkness.
Spencer Mackenzie Brown: Spencer is another great friend of mine. He delivers lyrics in a way that make you feel like you’ve lived the exact experience he’s writing about. 
Alex and Austin Ward (The Noise FM): The Wards are also dear friends. As you can tell, I really admire my friends. These guys live in Chicago now, but they’re KC natives. Their music hits so hard, and they never fail to blow my mind during their live shows. They’re also some of the funniest dudes ever. Check out their Boy Meets World fan fiction and see for yourself.
The Deli: Who are your favorite non-local musicians right now?
Flynn: I’m really digging this band called Snowmine from Brooklyn (thanks Middle of the Map!). They write brilliantly crafted indie-pop songs.
The Deli: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Plaza Art Fair?
Flynn: The lineup is fantastic this year. Just a few of the bands that I’m excited to see are Wells The Traveler, Josh Berwanger Band, Carswell & Hope, and She’s a Keeper.
The Deli: Besides Plaza Art Fair, what other shows do you have coming up?
Flynn: We’re in the process of booking several shows right now. It’s looking like we’ll have EP release shows in Lawrence, Kansas City, and Austin in November.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Flynn: Arcade Fire, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and The Beach Boys of 1966 headline (not to be confused with The Beach Boys of 1996 with John Stamos on drums).
Side note: if you’ve never seen it, check out the episode of Full House where Uncle Jesse sings the song “Forever” with the Beach Boys…perfection.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Flynn: Prince: The man can play every instrument!
Quincy Jones: Perhaps MJ deserves this spot (maybe the best performer of all time), but I can’t get over Quincy’s production. So incredible.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney: I can’t split these two up. They definitely both deserve a spot.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: What other goals does Hembree have for 2014, and beyond?
Flynn: In Quiet Corral, we wanted to be the first band to play on the moon. I think it’s safe to say that goal still remains for Hembree.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Flynn: Visit the Space Jam website. It hasn’t changed since 1996. You’ll love it.
Hembree is:
Jim Barnes: drums, vocals
Garrett Childers: guitar, vocals
Isaac Flynn: vocals, guitar
Matt Green: bass
Zach Mehl: keys
Be sure to catch Hembree’s debut on INK’s stage at Plaza Art Fair on Friday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m. The stage is located at Ward Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, next to Gram & Dun and Plaza III. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. Seriously, check out the Space Jam website. It’s unreal.
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