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Hidden Pictures signed to Golden Sound Records

The poppy 5-piece Hidden Pictures has been signed to Kansas City's Golden Sound Records, just announced in anticipation of their upcoming full-length release Rainbow Records. The crisp, melodic, polite vocal combination of Richard Gintowt and Michelle Sanders mixed with bright retro pop sounds is a perfect fit for Golden Sound, whose current artist roster includes the '50s-style rockabilly group The Empty Spaces, folk outfit Oriole Post, and ambient noise rockers Everyday/Everynight.

Rainbow Records will be available on July 17 in print/digital formats. The CD release show will be July 20 at The Brick with labelmates Fullbloods

In addition, Golden Sound Records is hosting the Crossroads Summer Block Party next Friday, July 6. Food, festivities, and music from bands on the label, as well as bands on The Record Machine.


--Michelle Bacon

Album review: She's A Keeper - She's A Keeper

Someone get Zach Braff on the phone. He is going to want to get in on She’s a Keeper before someone else does. Having already packed local clubs to capacity and having performed at Midcoast Takeover this year at South by Southwest, if you haven’t heard of this band yet, you damn well should have. And assuming the band keeps making albums like this one, you will hear of She’s a Keeper whether you want to or not.

She's A Keeper really hit the purposefully rusted nail on the head with this effort. These cool kids got off the bus in some random Kentucky town and quickly put the from-the-jug drinking locals to shame. It makes me wonder which one offered up his or her poor young soul to the devil to comprehend and create alt folk rock so well. It is really, really good. As a fellow local musician, I have to admit it is angry good. It is jealous good. It is damn impressive.

She’s a Keeper pulls off this click of music to near perfection. The more rock moments tinge on the metronomic energy of Phoenix. The upbeat songs are a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time, reminiscent of the Avett Brothers’ early work. The slower, “purtier” efforts tenderly kick you in the stomach and leave you wanting to thank the boot.

Songs like “Guidance” and “Love Me Like a Summer” carry a consistent yet dynamic energy. As is typical in this modern-folk-rock genre, She’s a Keeper enjoys being playful with song structures, often utilizing beat and meter changes to keep the ears surprised.

In “Branches,” my favorite tune of this bunch, the band shows a masterful control of its music. The song is built up and torn down many times in many unique ways, yet it never seems excessive. It features a grand range of instrumentation, but, impressively, each instrument is used in exactly the right amount and way. The restraint and respect shown to the song as a whole is something from which even the most seasoned songwriters could take a cue.

The following two tracks showcase the other side of what She's A Keeper can do. “Hometown” is a stripped-down effort overflowing with honesty and emotion. It produces the power and impact of the previous track, but with 20 percent of the instrumentation. “Show Me State” starts out very much the same, featuring only the comforting flicker of a xylophone to accompany the spot-on harmony vocals and layered guitar. But just when you think they’re losing their steam, the rest of the band return and bring the track to an exciting and dynamic conclusion. I would say without reservation it is the best three-song stretch I have heard on an album (local or not) in quite a while.

And so it continues over the 12 songs. There are not a lot of criticisms to be had here. The album does lack an obvious radio single, but as soon as She's A Keeper stumbles upon its “Caring is Creepy” or “Lisztomania,” all bets are off.

Do yourself a favor. Go “like” this band now. Go get this record. She’s a Keeper is doing it right, and you should know about it.

She's A Keeper will be performing this Friday, June 29 at recordBar for Chris Haghirian's birthday bonanza, which begins at 9:00 p.m. with Georgia Gordon, Stephen Paul Smoker and Hearts of Darkness. Tickets are $10 and are available here.

 -Zach Hodson

Zach is a lifetime Kansas City resident who plays multiple instruments and sings in Dolls on Fire, as well as contributing to many other Kansas City music, art, and comedy projects.  He is very fond of edamame, treats his cat Wiley better than he treats himself, and doesn't want to see pictures of your newborn child (seriously, it looks like a potato).

Editor's note: This album was released in 2011 and followed up by a live recording performed at Midwestern Musical Co earlier this year. She's A Keeper will be releasing a follow-up studio album in August.


On The Beat with Stephanie Williams

This week, we sit down with Stephanie Williams, who plays in nearly every band in Kansas City, it seems. She plays with The Prolific, The Clementines, The Cave Girls, Claire and the Crowded Stage, Adam Evolving, and by the time of this posting, there's no telling who else. Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is a weekly interview brought to you by drummer Sergio Moreno (of Hillary Watts Riot and Alacartoona), and features some of the many talented drummers in the Kansas City area.



On The Beat with Stephanie Williams


This summer… A coming of age story…One woman will give everything she has…To play the instrument she loves… A journey of passion and skill…A hero like no other…Coming to a music venue near you. Well, anyway, that was the kind of script I had imagined for a movie about this week’s featured drummer, she’s the kind of epic character that makes you think in cinematic terms. But when asked what the narrator’s deep, dramatic voice would say, she replied, “I’m guessing it would be something like, Stephanie Williams starring in Pretty Good, For A Chick.” She’s funny like that, and humble. Perhaps too humble. This week we chat with one of Kansas City’s most talented (and nicest) drummers.

The Deli: How did you get to be such a fantastic drummer?

Stephanie Williams: Thanks for the kind words! I started when I was 12, and I guess I play the way I do because of my passion for the instrument. I would spend every minute of the day drumming if I could. I've had some excellent teachers (Dave Jarman, Kent Rausch, Mike Sekelsky), but most of my playing is a result of marching bands and jazz ensembles, as well as all of the great local and touring drummers that I’ve played with. I take something from every player I hear, and I think this helps my sound reflect a lot of different styles and techniques.

The Deli: How do you approach drumming?

SW: When someone comes to me with a riff or a song, my first step is to come up with a feel that makes it groove. Later, I’ll add in fills and expand on the original idea. I have to be interested in what I’m playing, and my main goal is to create parts in a way that would allow any given performance to be recorded and released to the public. I’m all about structure and consistency, but I also like to keep things fun.

The Deli: What's going on in your head when you're playing?

SW: When I’m drumming, there's nothing else in the world I'd rather be doing. It’s hard to explain what’s happening in my head because it seems like I go somewhere else. I listen to the music, and my arms and legs pretty much take over. I’m not typically a counter. I read music and understand the theory behind rhythm and time, but my playing comes entirely from what the music makes me feel. Sometimes I’ll “wake up” and realize that I’m on stage. I guess drumming is my happy place.

The Deli: Okay, but you're also a great bassist. What's that like?

SW: I love the bass. Always have. As a bassist, I still get to work with rhythms and grooves, yet it gives me a chance to try something new and more challenging. I've found that performing on bass offers a bit of nervousness (the good kind) that I don’t experience while drumming. Joining The Cave Girls just sort of happened after a drum jam one day, and it’s one of the most exciting groups I’ve been a part of. I am a drummer though, and there is something about hitting things with sticks and driving a band that is irreplaceable.

The Deli: What are your bands and projects right now?

SW: I’m playing with The Prolific, The Cave Girls, The Clementines, Claire & the Crowded Stage, and Adam Evolving. I also play every night at Worlds of Fun, and I record and perform with a number of other artists on the side. I’m just fortunate to know a lot of talented people.

The Deli: Holy cannoli! You must really love the KC music scene. 

SW: The music crowd here feels like a big family, and everyone is very supportive of each other. I’ve made so many friends within the community, and the coolest part is that all of them are insanely talented.

The Deli:

 Does that leave you time for anything else?

SW: I spend my time away from music teaching special needs students and working toward a master’s degree in counseling. Most of my free time is spent going to friends’ shows, being with family, trying new wines, and wasting time on Netflix. Also, I have a ton of fun with special effects makeup, and I’ve spent the past 2 years creating the monsters at Worlds of Fun Halloween Haunt.

Catch Stephanie’s blockbuster skills in action Thursdays through Tuesdays at Worlds of Fun through the end of July and see her perform with The Cave Girls at Angels Rock Bar, July 25.

 -Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.


Stephanie Williams











Show of the week: The Wilders at Knuckleheads, 6.30.12

The Wilders are one of the most successful bands to emerge from Kansas City in the past decade. The 4-piece string band has been around for over 15 years (13 years with the same lineup), has churned out 10 quality albums, and has had a successful run around the continent and in Europe. With such an impressive resumé and a huge catalog of music, there was no question that this would be our show of the week.

After 15 years of constant touring and playing, the group has decided to take a well-deserved hiatus. The show at Knuckleheads on Saturday will give fans a chance to hear The Wilders’ entire catalog, ranging from their beginnings of playing old country and folk standards to original alt-country Americana songs of the past few years. Though they have never been a cover band, they've been careful to pay homage to their influences throughout the years and use them to create their own material. Their latest album (2011, The Wilders) was the first that contained all original songs, and was well received by fans and critics alike, winning an Independent Music Award for best alt-country album.

Though Saturday's show is being billed as a "farewell show" of sorts, fiddler Betse Ellis was quick to explain that the band was not breaking up.

"We love each other too much to break up," said Ellis. "We're not ready to call it quits but we don't know when we'll play next."

Either way, this is a rare chance to see The Wilders perform in their hometown. The group’s exuberant live show is not to be missed, containing an energy that many bands simply cannot achieve. Frontman and guitarist Ike Sheldon is an otherworldly force on stage, with riffs and a voice that could destroy almost any heavy rocker. “He can go from biting your head off to stabbing you in the gut quietly within 30 seconds of the same song,” explained Ellis.

In the same turn, Ellis’s fierce fiddle work ensnares audiences. Bass player Nate Gawron lays down a solid foundation for the controlled chaos the band is known to create. Phil Wade rounds out the 4-piece as the multi-instrumentalist, often switching from mandolin to banjo to any number of stringed instruments. And all of this is done without a drummer, yet The Wilders’ music has a propulsion that often rivals that of a marching band.

The show begins at 9:00 p.m. The Wilders will play for the entire evening, providing a retrospective of their successful and diverse career. Tickets are $15 and available here.

--Michelle Bacon


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