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Show review: Soft Reeds/Be/Non/Broncho, 6.15.12

(Pictured above: Brodie Rush of Be/Non)

Friday night The Riot Room saw two of Kansas City's finest take the stage in preparation for the music of Broncho, the evening's headliner. This reporter didn't stay long enough to hear their set, but judging by the sound check, they killed it. Without a doubt.

After patiently waiting for Nik Wallenda to complete his historic tightrope walk over Niagara Falls, Soft Reeds took little time to re-establish themselves as one of the area's leading practitioners of danceable indie rock. Their sound has gotten tighter and more radio-ready with each gig, their covers of Talking Heads and David Bowie songs were most enjoyable, and the new material they presented proved once again to be a tantalizing tease of that which is yet to come. Their next record is being tentatively targeted for an October-ish release date, so in order to save time this reporter highly recommends that you go ahead and put "buy the new Soft Reeds album" on your autumn to-do list. Judging by how they sounded Friday, it's going to be a monster.

Following this opening set would be a formidable task for any band, but Be/Non was more than up to the challenge. Be/Non led off with "Space," the music behind the brilliant three-and-a-half-minute animated preview of A Mountain of Yeses, the movie based on the album of the same name. Performing their first gig with their new guitarist (who this reporter will refer to as "Nate" because ... well, that's his name), there didn't seem to be any hesitation about tackling a set filled with Be/Non's usual grandiose approach to avant-garde rock, with a heavy dose of psychedelic sounds that Messrs Rush, Ruth, and Shank tackled as a three-piece in last month's KC Psychfest. These two bands targeted their audience with two different brands of music which had the same goal: get the people moving. Judging by the dancing that this reporter witnessed in front of the stage, that mission was successfully accomplished twofold.

Check out Soft Reeds' video for "This Affair," off Soft Reeds Are Bastards

And the animatic for "Space," off Brodie Rush's upcoming film A Mountain of Yeses. Song performed by Be/Non under this album.

-Michael Byars

Michael is the host of The Mailbox, a weekly podcast that offers new music, concert info and news about the Kansas City area and more. In his spare time you might find him looking for some good live music, particularly at a certain bar that has lots of records. 


Show of the day: Erik Voeks and The Quivers at Vinyl Renaissance on 39th St

 As summer quickly approaches, there are a number of shows going on this weekend (luckily, our concert calendar will tell you where you should be!). But before the night gets kicked into full gear, go check out Erik Voeks and The Quivers (pictured above) doing an in-store performance at Vinyl Renaissance and Audio on 39th Street.

Voeks, the reigning power pop prince of Kansas City, kicks off the set at 6 pm with some of his solo tunes. He's collaborated with about every reputable musician in Kansas City, and has shared the stage with numerous national acts. Being a veteran of the pop music scene, Voeks has mastered and trademarked the art of the hook and placement of dynamics. And since he doesn't play solo shows around town too often, this set will be one to catch.

The Quivers' first EP is our CD of the month, so we're a bit biased. But still, this high-energy Motown-influenced rock group is not to be missed live. Vocalist and bassist Terra Peal commands the stage with a muscular vocal presence tinged with sex appeal and booming bass lines. Her partners in crime (Todd Grantham, Abe Haddad, and Bernard Dugan) drive and provide more color to a series of quick tunes. Tonight, the four piece will be performing songs off this EP as well as the one they just wrapped up recording on.


This is a free, all-ages show. Go early and buy some records at Vinyl Renaissance. Then you still have time to fit in a nap and go see some more great gigs tonight. How's that for a plan?

Album review: The Cave Girls - The Cave Girls (EP)

When you read the descript “prehistoric rock,” your mind may cue up a picture of The Way-Outs, a Beatles-esque band that appeared on The Flintstones back in the day. On the other hand, you might think of primal guitars and hard-hitting drums with band members donning ragged, wild cat-skin smocks. Enter The Cave Girls, an all-girl trio that sounds like they highjacked a time machine from prehistory to the late 1970s and happened to time jump right into CBGBs while The Ramones were playing. They’ve since shown up in Kansas City and have released a set of short, fun, no-frills rock 'n‘ roll for us modern types.

The band’s theme song kicks off the album a la a punkier B-52s: hand claps, raw guitar, and sing-along vocals telling the tale of how The Cave Girls got to KC: via I-435. A surprising twist in the song is when they kick it into overdrive and show off some old-school punk rock chops. This is also the band’s longest song on the album, coming in at 5:29, with the others trailing in length by at least 2-3 minutes. 

The ability to get straight to the point is one of the more refreshing things about this release. The Cave Girls don’t mess around. The songs themselves aren’t reinventing rock by any means, but they find a solid home within the context these girls are putting them in. For instance, the song “The Maid” starts out with killer guitar that sounds like it was birthed in T.Rex’s garage. The song ranges from mid-tempo burn to intense thrashing all the while the lyrics describe the job at hand for a maid that just wants to get paid. No tongue-in-cheek innuendos, just a straight-up description of the occupation’s ups and downs. While this would never work for other bands, it does for them and the result is a fun romp through the swamplands of prehistoric bad-assness. 

-Mike Tipton

Mike is a KC native that enjoys new music and playing with his band, Molly Picture Club. He also enjoys people watching and documentaries by Ken Burns.



Album review: Thee Water MoccaSins - … from the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear

If I didn’t know that this band was a supergroup of KC stalwarts, I wouldn’t have any idea exactly who or what Thee Water MoccaSins is. I can only assume they like to keep it this way. There are no members listed on their “official” places on the web, there are no pictures that aren’t foggy, off centered, or purposefully blurred.  They are truly as abstract as they try to appear.  It is purposeful mystery, in that emo-adorable kind of way.  They give you no choice but to not focus on who they are, but more importantly what they do.

The band describes itself as “electro-psych fractal pop”.  Hmm.  Electro.  Psych.  Fractal.  Pop.  Sounds … heady.  And with the “Description” field on their Facebook being a link to the philosophy of randomness, their hometown being a link to “The Tree of Life Web Project”, and their own admission from their website that the whole thing was started “as a lark”, I find myself struggling to determine whether these are a group of earth-loving, deeper-than-thou intellectuals or if they’re just fucking with me.

Don’t worry, I really do understand it, but do I believe it?  I think I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and go with the grand idea they propose.  After all, it’s a glass nearly full kind of day.

But like I said before, it’s not how they present it, it’s how they do it.  And Thee Water MoccaSins does it well. …from the Rivers of Missouri and the Banks of Fear is a solid album clearly made by people that know how to make records.  The songs share just enough structure and whimsy to keep both camps happy. The rocking parts keep the tattooed hipsters interested while the sometimes-bordering-cheesy 80’s synths give hope to that guy in the back of the bar still hoping Ric Ocasek has another Candy-O in him.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this album is its ability to be blatantly influenced throughout, yet end up a cohesive and unique-sounding record in the end. Thee Water MoccaSins spin specific elements from all eras of rock history into something that walks on its own feet.

The opening track, “In the City”, sounds like The Who sharing a brown liquor drink (no ice, please) with a methed-out bumpkin as sung by Robert Smith.  It is clear this band understands the importance of having a solid and rocking album opener and they have most certainly achieved it.

Often the tracks space out into structured musical strains that test the limits of the fairly simple electronic elements beneath.  The songwriting stays fairly formulaic throughout, “Holy Roller” being the exception. This track eventually breaks the mold a bit, and features a more playful back and forth between the instrumentation and vocals.  It sounds much more purposeful than the occasional random chaos in other songs.

“Diablo Diablo” is the standout track for me. It starts akin to the others, but ends up being the best usage of vocals on the album, both for melody and effect. Also being lyrically the most accessible of these songs, it’s the one I find myself humming hours after listening.

All in all, Thee Water MoccaSins has made a very solid record.  Regardless of whether you appreciate the existentialism and verisimilitude, these electronic-tinged rock grooves will keep your ears pleased.

-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).



On The Beat with Tess Jehle

We're proud to launch our very first weekly feature, On The Beat with Sergio Moreno! Our first interview features Tess Jehle, drummer for The B'Dinas and Dream Wolf. Catch the beat here at the link.

On The Beat is written by drummer Sergio Moreno (from Hillary Watts Riot and Alacartoona), and features some of the many talented drummers in the Kansas City area.


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