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Kansas City music

Show review: Sonic Spectrum Ramones Tribute, 10.28.12

Four bands came together to pay tribute to legendary punk band, the Ramones, as a part of Sonic Spectrum’s tribute series at recordBar. For all intents and purposes, the Ramones saved rock n' roll. When they released their self-titled debut in 1976, the radio was jammed pack with long-winded keyboard solos, disco beats, and mini-operas. The Ramones went back to the original blueprint, designed by the early rock n' rollers and doo-wop groups of the ‘50s. Only the Ramones' songs were faster, louder, tougher, and weirder; punk was born. Their sound continues to influence countless bands to this day, four of which showed up that night.

If there was a secondary theme to the night, it was that covering these three-chord simplistic songs looks much easier than it actually is to pull off. Nearly each band recognized that on stage. The first band, UFT!, kicked off the show right with the shouts of "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" in "Blitzkrieg Bop,” quite possibly the most recognizable tune in the Ramones catalog. Bassist Steve Tulipana shared a funny story about meeting the artist behind the iconic Ramones logo, and his surprise on how getting prepared for the show had been. They played other Ramones classics such as "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "Rock N' Roll High School.”

Next, Rockets to Russia took the stage (members of Bleachbloodz, The Uncouth!, Hobo Zero, Appropriate Grammar, The Bad Ideas). Consisting of the largest group of the night, the five-member band tore through songs about as fast as the Ramones would perform them live. Songs like "Glad to See You Go" and "Cretin Hop" were accompanied by boundless energy that seemed to run back and forth on both sides of the stage. Two songs in, vocalist Mitch Clark convincingly told the crowd he'd have to slow down for a song or two or else he was bound to have a heart attack on stage. Still, the band continued through their set this way.

Gene Kreamerz and the Pussycats (members of The Quivers, The Latenight Callers, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, Deco Auto) played their songs closer to how the Ramones sounded on the albums. It's not at the breakneck speed of their live performances, but still animated enough for a crowd to bounce around to. Highlights included "(Do You Remember) Rock N' Roll Radio?" and a personal favorite, "Danny Says,” the true ballad of the night (surprisingly, the Ramones were great at writing those, too).

True evidence of the Ramones influence in even today's world came when Radkey finished the night off. The band consists of three brothers, all of whom were born well after the Ramones had their heyday. The spirit, energy, and rock n' roll the Ramones championed during their career came through the band. Highlights included the seasonally appropriate "Pet Cemetery" and campy "Somebody Put Something in My Drink.” The band ended their set with the anti-political song "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg", a song most fans would consider to be a favorite. The night was a great tribute to the Ramones, and in turn, a great tribute to rock n' roll.

All photos by Todd Zimmer. Please do not use without permission.

--Travis Stull  

Travis is a technical writer who loves rock n' roll. Give him a hug sometime.

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Artists on Trial: The Architects

By putting out four successful albums, playing national tours like Warped Fest, and delivering gigantic riffs and reverberating rhythms to fans over the past 8 years, The Architects have established themselves as THE rock band of Kansas City. And this year, Midwest Music Foundation is pleased to have this four-piece group headlining Apocalypse Meow this Saturday. Today, we talk with bassist Zach Phillips and get some insight on what the group is up to. 

The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
Zach PhillipsThe new recordings are all over the place as far as style. My favorite songs so far are really fast, tight punk beats with melodic chord progressions and my brother Brandon howling some witty banter about being a cowboy and keeping his gun clean. Think Rancid with brains and a bar of soap meets Queen live at Wembley.

The Deli: Let’s talk about what you have coming up. What can we expect?
ZachThe new recordings are coming in 2013. We have been working hard on them for 2 years and it’s wonderful to see the project finally come together. That’s all the information I'm at liberty to divulge right now. It’s not going to be your typical Architects release though.

The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?
ZachEvery town has a different local music scene. KC has always had a lot of great groups of people creating art, music, small businesses, etc. If you take an interest and participate then you're supporting it. Buying music and art from the artist/band always helps us make it to the next town or pay our rent!

The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?
ZachI love Lauren Krum from The Grisly Hand, Chris Meck from Tiny Horse, and Beckie Trost from Soft Reeds. Lauren’s got some great pipes and she’s fun to be around. Chris plays a mean guitar and if you ever get a chance to hold his Strat, you'll notice the neck he plays on is bigger than a baseball bat! Beckie’s the perfect match for Soft Reeds; she has great feel. I didn’t realize she was such a great bass player!

The Deli: What bands are you most excited to see at Meow?
Zach: I've been recording an album with Tiny Horse and it’s been great working with the people Chris and Abby (Henderson) picked to be in that band. I will be performing with them this Friday, November 2 at Midwestern Musical Co. and I'm and very excited for that one.

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
Zach: I love The BellRays. Someday I will have the chance to play bass with them, and then I will be able to die happy.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Zach: The Replacements / Makers / The BellRays / Architects or Cramps / Black Flag / Bronx / Architects would rule also.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
Zach: On stage. I like recording a lot, but nothing beats the bright lights, smoke machines, laser beams, and screaming girls that live performances have. I'm better at performing too.

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
ZachPhil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Freddie King, and Ron Wood (Faces/Rolling Stones). Phil is one of my bass heroes and Thin Lizzy is my favorite rock band ever. I love Phil’s lyrics, his voice, and the way he sings and plays is perfect.
Billy Gibbons is another amazing guitar playing and ZZ Top is a close second to Thin Lizzy for favorite bands. I don't think Eric Clapton would've existed if Freddie King wasn't around for him to rip off.
Freddie was a monster on the guitar and his band was always bad ass. My favorite things about the state of Texas are ZZ Top and Freddie King.
Ron Wood has been the new guy in the Rolling Stones for the last 30+years and it’s not fair. He also has a handsome face and would look nice chiseled out of stone next to Phil, Billy & Freddie. Ron’s band before the Stones was The Faces w/ Rod Stewart. Ron is a great guitar player and another hero of mine.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?
Zach: ARCHITECTS are everywhere! I don't use the computer for much and I don't know anything about our web presence. I'm the bass player, what do you expect?
(If you’re interested, which you should be, you can check out The Architects’ Facebook page here.)

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Zach: Don't sweat the small stuff. Stay in school and don't use drugs.
The Architects are:
Brandon Phillips – lead vocals, guitar
Keenan Nichols – lead guitar
Zach Phillips – bass, vocals
Adam Phillips – drums
Go see Zach lay down some wicked bass lines as The Architects headline Apocalypse Meow this Saturday, November 3 at The Beaumont Club (and he’ll also be performing with Tiny Horse on Friday, November 2 at Midwestern Musical Co). You won’t want to miss one of The Architects’ few performances this year; they will take the stage right around midnight.
--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 Auto, Drew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. Her grandpa has a street in Malaysia named after him. Really.

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On The Beat with Adam Phillips

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

Nobody in Kansas City—and I mean nobody—hits harder and more precisely than Adam Phillips of The Architects. In anticipation of their upcoming show at Apocalypse Meow next Saturday, we sit down with the drummer and find out more about his technique, his favorite drummers in town, and why Van Halen is better than Van Hagar. Catch the beat right here!

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat is a weekly Q&A with some of the best drummers in Kansas City. If you'd like to be considered for this interview, please send us an email at kceditor@thedelimagazine.com.

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Album review: Jorge Arana Trio - Mapache

Mapache, the debut full-length release from the Jorge Arana Trio, is both a throwback and forward-gazing: its simple blue-and-black-washed cover art hearkens to classic Blue Note albums of yore and its narrative thematic structure pays homage to the great concept albums of the past. The trio’s modern influences and distinctive voice carves out new territory of its own.

Leading the expedition are erstwhile members of Kansas City’s beloved experimental rockers Pixel Panda: Jorge Arana (guitar/keys) and Joshua Enyart (drums), joined by Jason Nash (bass).

These three adventurous fellows use their musical wanderlust to carve up twelve short sketches that cover free jazz, fusion, prog-jazz, metal, noise rock, and pretty much anything they deem necessary to move the story forward. Mapache, like its Spanish namesake, is a musical raccoon with its paws all over a number of genres, filching whatever and whenever it pleases.

“Bitter Era” opens the album demonstrating just this, embarking on a jazz odyssey with frenetic rhythms, dissonant plunking on the keys, and a grungy guitar before settling into a staccato groove that turns aggressive in the driving “Snake in the Grass.” A chorus of tribal voices lends a sinister air of foreboding before erupting in a hard rock finale.

Tracks such as “Nightly Stroll,” “Confrontation!”, and the playfully sinister “Short & Evil” make up a trilogy that heightens the sense of high stakes drama. The bulk of the album is packed densely with similar battle-music suites, highlighted by the aptly-titled “Catching Bullets with Your Teeth” and the bendy buzz-saw guitars propelling “Thieves Among Us.”

Early track “I’m an Omnivore” and the penultimate “Baptize Your Dinner” provide nice, contemplative free jazz reprieves from the cacophony. The album finale, “Ether,” returns us to the loose, improvisational spirit of the album’s opener before settling into an ambling, drunken strut, littered with loose keys, scratchy guitar strings and scattershot percussive asides.

There’s a strong sense of storytelling throughout Mapache, an orchestrated chaos. Stanley Kubrick’s Apocalypse Now didn’t improve upon Joseph Campbell’s Heart of Darkness so much as tweak its slow-burn descent into madness with psychedelia, machine gunfire, and stylistic bursts of dramatic flair. Jorge Arana Trio does the same here for the experimental jazz canon.

The clever and calculated Mapache stops just short of an uncontrolled acid jazz freak-out. Instead, it’s an invitation to embark upon a cinematic romp through a treacherous sonic wilderness, just beyond the safety of civilization--one that doesn’t promise to show you the way home.
Tomorrow marks the album release for Mapache. Join the Trio along with Quirk and Ruckus, Ambulants, and Mr.Marco's V7 at Coda tomorrow, October 26, at 9:00 pm. Facebook event pageMapache will be available in cassette or download form. 
--Vi Tran 

Vi Tran is currently acting in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Unicorn Theatre through November 4. He's also in Vi Tran Band and Hot Caution.


Album review: The Caves - Duplexiaville

When last we heard from KC quartet (recently upgraded to a five-piece) The Caves, they were supporting their five-song EP called, creatively enough, Five Songs With The Caves. It’s been a minute or two since then, and their live performances have solidified their reputation as a solid, cohesive act, but as with all bands who earn favor among their listening audience, said listeners have been patiently waiting for new music—a track or two would be performed here and there, and rumors of recording sessions would swirl in hushed tones among the faithful. That wait for new music has been rewarded recently with the release of Duplexiaville, a ten-track gem.
By way of comparison, and to see how their new album shows the evolution of the sound of The Caves, listen to one of their most well-known songs, “Liars” (which was included as part of the excellent Golden Sound Records/The Record Machine compilation Secret Handshakes). Whereas “Liars” is a mid-to-uptempo track featuring some pretty intense lyrics (the repetition of “I don’t believe in protecting liars” is a pretty effective verbal middle finger), you’ll find nothing of that level of bubbling-under angst in Duplexiaville. Here you’ll discover a group that has grown, individually and together, and has brought that growth to the recording studio, culminating in music that is wistful and winsome. There’s no rush in the pacing of this record, as the listener is taken on a gentle tour that takes its time in reaching its destination.
The overall sound can primarily be slotted into one of two categories: tracks like “Empty Sails” and “Give It Away Or Lose It” are rife with the trademark harmonic dissonance of Andrew Ashby’s guitar tone, while “Two-faced Folds” and “Feeler” offer slices of hypnotic dream-pop that would seem perfectly suited for an Olympic Size collaboration. You’ll also find a couple nice little detours on your aural adventure: “The Usual”, a bonafide alt-country work of art (just add a little Mike Stover steel guitar and shake well), and the album’s closing track, “Once And Astronaut All,” a lovely little ninety-second lullaby that sends the listener off to the land of hopes and dreams on the pillowy cloud of chords and notes that bring an end to the tour of Duplexiaville.

It’s a nice place to visit … and I think I’ll do so frequently. 

--Michael Byars

Next chance you have to catch The Caves will be on Saturday, November 24 at The Brick. They'll be joined by Knife Crime and Tree.

--Michael Byars

Michael Byars currently has a pink goatee. No, it isn’t his natural hair color. No, he didn’t lose a bet. No, it has nothing to do with illicit sexual activities with Strawberry Shortcake. It’s in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—and in recognition of his mom, who kicked cancer’s ass. Rock on, Michael’s mom!

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