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Kansas City music

Apply for MidCoast Takeover 2013!

Midwest Music Foundation is presenting the fourth annual MidCoast Takeover from March 13-16 at Shangri-La in Austin, TX. This event promises four days of music, mayhem, and general debauchery—the definitive Midwestern musical throw down. MidCoast Takeover will showcase bands from Kansas City, Lawrence, and the Midwest region on the national stage during South by Southwest.

This is also a free showcase—no wristbands or badges are required. Last year's event was featured in USA Today and The Deli SXSW. This year's will be bigger and better than ever! If you would like to apply, click on the link HERE to register. The deadline for registration is January 10, 2013 (yes, the graphic above has an incorrect date). 

We'll see you there!

The Midwest Music Foundation is proud to support the DIY spirit of Kansas City’s intrepid and inspired music community. Up from the gut, out from the middle, we are the sound of the heart of American music.

Album review: Dolls on Fire - Ladies and Gentlemen...

As its title suggests, Ladies and Gentlemen... is an introduction, as well as a dialectic declaration of the gender wars we’ve been waging since we were knee-high in sandboxes. Dolls on Fire lets its geek flag fly on a brisk seven-song debut that’s heavy on hooks and harmonies, hearkening back to the (dis)comforts of adolescence.

Our guide on this synth-pop rollercoaster is Zach Hodson, who embraces his frontman role with the enthusiastic charm of a carnival barker and the hamminess of a Vegas showman. Rachel Jaggard is right there with him, sharing lead vocal duties or layering on confectionary harmonies. They are joined by the tight, muscular rhythm section of Mark Johnson and Michelle Bacon, who form a two-headed bass-and-drum monster.

There are swirling synths. There are crunchy guitars. There are layers upon layers of pop harmonies and new wave influences all around, as well as a heavy dose of intelligent nerd punk, ‘90s nostalgia, and lounge music theatricality.

It’s a bit like The Cars being driven by Neil Diamond, with early Weezer riding shotgun, and a bunch of Squirrel Nut Zippers in the backseat—particularly on tracks like “Give Me A Reason To Love,” “GFY (300 Hands),” and “Hosanna (On The Radio).”

“Hosanna” is the jungle-gym time-capsule anthem of the bunch, with its “na-na-na’s” and auto-tuned talkbox vocals, theremin, and references to Atari, Ninja Turtles, Gwar, Hot Topic, and ear gauges. When Hodson swears, “That bitch is on the radio!”, it’s at once a kiss-off, dumbfounded disbelief, and begrudging pride.

The girls get their rebuttals too, as Jaggard narrates “Minotaur,” a torch song for mythical wintry forests after dark. “Jem Vs. The Volcano” is a call-and-response adventure between Hodson and Jaggard of its titular heroine, who evades tormentors by escaping into her imagination. She declares that “these should be damn good times for me!” It’s manic and melancholic and carthartic for Jem, and for us listeners too.

Beneath the humor and whimsy is the frustration of adolescence. The finely-tuned duet “A Boy Like Me” pleads, “Would you wait for me? Would you dare to see / The celebration that is me? The transformation that will be / From a boy like me?”

Similarly, “No One Will Love You Unless You’re A Man” implores, “Don’t be a boy, child, please be a man” and presents the crux of the battle between the fairer and rougher sexes: “Take all your regrets, darling / Set them three by three / Multiply and see / All the pain that you caused for me.”

So it goes with the battle between boys and girls. Dolls on Fire excavates the long passage from youth to adulthood and rappel the large chasm between ladies and men. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been fascinated and frustrated by the opposite sex. Ladies and Gentlemen... frames the gender war in the fun and fantasy of the farther recesses of our early memory and imaginations, reminding us of the pain and wonder of growing up.

Join Dolls on Fire with The Electric Lungs, The Sexy Accident, and Deco Auto this Saturday at Club 906. The group will be playing at 10:00 after The Electric Lungs.

 --Vi Tran 

Vi Tran is a singer-songwriter, actor, and arts advocate who plays his own songs in Vi Tran Band and other people's songs in Hot Caution.

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Artists on Trial: The Latenight Callers

(Photo by Mat "Slimm" Adkins)

Five shadows emerge from a table in the corner of a dark room. The table is littered with empty liquor bottles, half-smoked cigarette packs, Zippos, playing cards, guitar picks. A Gretsch baritone crunches and rings out, followed by swaggering rhythms and vocals, dripping with sexual overtones. The sights and sounds you’re hearing are characteristically those of The Latenight Callers, Kansas City’s favorite noir band. We feature them in this week’s Artists on Trial, so pour yourself a glass of bourbon and read on.

The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

The Latenight Callers: "The house-band at David Lynch's pool-party...and is that a Walther PPK?"

The Deli: Let’s talk about your upcoming shows or recordings. What can we expect?

TLNC: We've got lots of shows in the next few months, but we're REALLY excited about hitting the studio during the dark days of winter. We're planning on 2013 being a lucky number for us.

The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?

TLNC: These days, it seems that the best definition would be to GO SEE bands performing live! It's great that you can download anyone's music, anywhere, anytime, online, but truly the only way to literally support the local scene is to be part of it by putting yourself in front of the bands, themselves!

The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?

TLNC: We're quite fond of a pretty broad variety of music, including The Quivers, The Cave Girls, Steady States, Federation of Horsepower, Victor & Penny, The Silver Maggies, The Hillary Watts Riot...but honestly, there are just too many to mention!

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

TLNC: We're in love with The Royalty (El Paso), which have an incredibly catchy 60s garage-soul-pop sound, and Overcasters (Denver), who have this huge and doomy Americana rock sound. Check them out when they come to town again!

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

TLNC: Oh, the two bands listed in the prior question! The Latenight Callers, The Royalty, and Overcasters would be crazy awesome, and as different as those two bands are, TLNC is sort of a crazy halfway point between them!

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?

TLNC: It'd be easy to do both, but the stage is really where we really have the most fun... plus, no one can see you all dressed up in the studio, right?

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

TLNC: Tom Waits, Billie Holliday, Nick Cave, Patsy Cline... because you'd have to have big personalities up there that you'd never get tired of their influence.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

TLNC: thelatenightcallers.com


Pretty much anything anyone needs to know about us.

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

TLNC: Stick with brown liquor.

The Latenight Callers are:
Julie Berndsen – lead vocals

Ellen O’Hayer – guitar, vocals
Nick Combs – keyboards
Gavin Mac – bass
Krysztof Nemeth – baritone guitar

You’re in luck, because you can catch TLNC tonight with two of their favorite local bands, The Quivers and The Cave Girls. KC Rockabilly is presenting this great show at Aftershock (FB event page). The Quivers take the stage at 8:30, TLNC follows at 9:30, and The Cave Girls at 10:30. Then, on Saturday, December 1, TLNC will be at recordBar with Deco Auto, Now Now Sleepyhead, and In Back of A Black Car (FB event page).  

--Zach Hodson

Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until "Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings" begins production.

He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.

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Artists on Trial: Dolls on Fire

Dolls on Fire is one of the newest bands to hit the Kansas City music scene—a group of local music veterans with a penchant for melody and a collective ear for sound song structures. We talk to the foursome about what we can expect from its music, including its upcoming debut release Ladies and Gentlemen…

The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Dolls on Fire: Zach: Vocally-driven, high-energy synth rocktastic explosion of dramatic merriment.
Rachel: Singy, synthy disco necktie rock out!
Mark: Buzzy, fuzzy, synth-rock diversity.
Michelle: A vocally-driven synth rocksplosion.

The Deli: Let’s talk about Ladies and Gentlemen… your upcoming debut LP. What can we expect?

DoF: Zach: Lots of sing-along hooks and dynamic rock n’ roll performance. It's a big, bursting rock record, yet still tastefully crafted and arranged.
Rachel: Sass. Lots of sass.
Mark: The only thing you can expect...is the unexpected. Ever.
Michelle: Stellar songwriting and unicorns.

The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?

DoF: Zach: Everyone will say "Go to shows. Buy merch. Yell loudly." Those are very true and appreciated, but in these technological times, I would also add social media support. Like and share statuses, retweet, actually follow a band on the Interwebs. We know nobody can afford to go to every show in the city on every night, but people can (more or less) freely navigate the web. The more people that know how much awesome stuff is going on artistically in this town right now, the better. It's the whole "they tell two friends, then they tell two friends, then they tell two friends" kind of thing. Community is more than just trying to impress the people that are already there listening. It is helping others find new people to listen. In turn, they will do the same for you.
Rachel: Screaming “WE LOVE *band name*!!!” during a quiet moment from right in front of the stage.
Mark: Show up, yell and scream, and be unafraid to go outside your musical comfort zone.
Michelle: Unicorns (note: Michelle has answered these questions before, so her answers will likely make no sense).

The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?

DoF: Zach: She's a Keeper, Maps for Travelers, Molly Picture Club, Tiny Horse, Thee Water MoccaSins, Radkey, Antennas Up, and seriously, so, so, so, so, so many more.
Rachel: My fellow Dolls, of course! Those guys are the bee’s patella.
Mark: Zacrachelle (as I will now call my bandmates), Kara Taylor (of Shudder), Julie Berndsen (of The Latenight Callers).
Michelle: Since I already answered this last time, I will just say that I get to work with my two favorite female vocalists in Kansas City, and that makes me feel cool.

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

DoF: Zach: The Rentals, Nada Surf, The Neon Trees, They Might Be Giants, Lollipop Factory, the Avett Brothers, the Civil Wars, Ben Folds (and his Five).
Rachel: Aesop Rock, Utada Hikaru, Jem and the Holograms.
Mark: Les Claypool and Danny Carey.
Michelle: Due to recent concerts, I’m currently in a Regina Spektor and David Bazan phase. I won’t kill myself, don’t worry.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

DoF: Zach: They Might Be Giants, The Get Up Kids circa Yahoo Outloud tour, the Who circa Who's Next?, Queen (really any time for them).
Rachel: Jon Bush-era Anthrax, Morning Musume, and Bjork.
Mark: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Weather Report.
Michelle: One Direction! I actually don’t know what this band sounds like, but they sold out Sprint Center in minutes! That must mean they’re great.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
DoF: Zach: The studio. I love playing live, I really do, but I am a crafter. A refiner. A polisher. Put a coffee pot and a cot in the back corner of the control room and I'll see you in six months.
Rachel: Stage. It’s the only time I get to wear my hair in pigtails.
Mark: Contrary to "studio-owner" bias, I prefer stage lights and bandmates to hours of mixing and mastering.
Michelle: Does the studio have nice black or red leather couches? If so, studio. I really like to nap. The couches have to be black or red leather.

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

DoF: Zach: Pete Townshend—the work that man did with synthesizers is still just stupid impressive. John LennonPlastic Ono Band is probably the pinnacle of songwriting as far as I'm concerned. Michael Jacksonsay what you want about any of the non-music crap, that man had absolutely no holes in music repertoire. And John Linnell, for proving that even quirky, slightly goofy-looking white guys can be rock stars.
Rachel: Keyboard Cat, Maru, Lil’ BUB, and Hello Kitty because… cats.
Mark: Jaco Pastorius, Buddy Rich, Jimmy Page, Ella Fitzgerald—for unique, timeless, unquestioned talent.
Michelle: My last one was silly so this one will actually be serious—Beethoven, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dave Brubeck. All musicians that will transcend time.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

Twitter: @dolls_on_fire

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

DoF: Zach: You can always, always, always try harder. "Good enough" is neither good nor enough. Life is short, so get on with it.
Rachel: The turkey vulture’s main defense mechanism is to projectile vomit. So, always carry a poncho.
Mark: Always forgive, never forget. Every minute is precious—spend each one accordingly, as it is forever gone afterwards.
Michelle: More Ovaltine, please.
Dolls on Fire is:
Zach Hodson – lead vocals, guitar
Rachel Jaggard – lead vocals
Mark Johnson – drums/bass, vocals
Michelle Bacon – drums/bass
Kelly – background noises and things (Kelly could not be reached for comment)
Dolls on Fire will be releasing Ladies and Gentlemen… this Saturday at The Brick. The show kicks off with The Hillary Watts Riot at 10, followed by Dolls, then The Quivers. (Facebook event page) Sure to be damn good times for all.

--Terra Peal

Terra is a musician who has been around the Kansas City music scene for over 22 years. She is the singer and bassist for The Quivers and holds down the low end for Drew Black and Dirty Electric. She is also the official calendar girl for The Deli Kansas City. She's a lil pep, a lil spice, and a lil Ginger.

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Album review: The Ned Ludd Band - Spacebar

The Ned Ludd Band has no desire to be put into your box. They’re well-rehearsed and practiced in the art of blowing smoke. With Spacebar stacked seven songs deep, the band manages to score one hundred percent in reinvention class. Track for track, the album darts and turns, alters and reforms, shifting significantly from the previous. There are no road maps on this trip and you for damn sure better pack some motion sickness pills. Why? Well, because this path is more slippery than a used car salesman short on cash the week before Christmas. 

“Why Did It Have to Be the Furniture Store Misty,” the album’s opening track, is a writer’s best friend, upping the word count every time it is mentioned. With an upbeat and frantic feel to it, the band channels great 1990s structuring. An open-minded listener could hear the likes of The Presidents of the United States of America shoving this track between “Peaches” and “Boll Weevil” on their 1994 self-titled cut.
However, directly following the mouthful of an opener, we find “In a Duel,” a darker and more tormented track than the kickstarter cut. Channeling Tom Waits, the layered vocals give the album a completely different feel. “Jump” follows suit, twisting ever so slightly to a Sub Pop records Ugly Casanova sort of experience. The song’s soft lingering dynamics are lent to the album well, serving as the high point of the album’s seven tracks.
Shifting gears yet again, the album’s next two tracks “Never Leave Your Lady With Your Best Friend” and “Tell You Why” are made for pot-addicted hula hoop girls. With Blues Travelers harmonica and jam band qualities, The Ned Ludd Band not only kicks open the door to the stoner-friendly dance party, they also kick open the door to a wide array of possibilities for the population wearing straw hats and hemp bathing suits tap dancing down the beach. While it isn’t quite Ween, that demographic should be all ears. Why? Because if there were ever a secret handshake to the long and winding road tripping on anything you can smoke soundtrack, these two songs would make the cut.
So, what else can you possibly add to an already indie-meets-grungy-meets-hippie filled album? Blues, of course! “An Evening with Bannister Mall” focuses on its inter-18th and Vine. With a chill foundation and extremely overwhelming focus on the lyrics the track flows flawlessly into the guitar heavy “Catalog.” While I found myself shying away from the epileptic word vomit in the middle region of the track, the song’s core existence is to prove the band’s ability to go bat shit crazy on the axe. The riffs on this track are not to be fucked with and slam a pretty pointed exclamation point on the end of Spacebar.
In the end The Ned Ludd Band’s lack of compromise turns out to also be their saving grace. There is nothing boring about this seven-track EP. Like the ADHD child in the back of the classroom, it never sits still long enough to be ignored. It is in constant need of attention.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Catch The Ned Ludd Band in action next Saturday, November 17. They'll be playing at Coda at 9 pm with Cadillac Flambe at The Inwards. Facebook event page.

--Joshua Hammond

After stints drumming for both The Afternoons and Jenny Carr and the Waiting List in the Lawrence/Kansas City music scene, Joshua Hammond found his footing as a music journalist, launching the national publication Popwreckoning. After running the show as Editor in Chief for 6 years, Hammond stepped away from the reigns to freelance for other publications like Under The Gun Review and High Voltage Magazine. This shift allowed the adequate amount of time for him to write passionately, allow the Kansas City Royals to break his heart on a daily basis and spoon his cats just enough that they don't shred his vinyl. 

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