Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City’

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On their new album “Problems” their first full-length in eight years The Get Up Kids examine everything from life-changing loss to loneliness to the inevitable anxiety of existing in 2019. But by sustaining the essence of their sound anthemic choruses with sing-along-ready melodies the band highlights those troubles as a shared experience, giving way to an unbreakable solidarity. And at the heart of Problems is an invaluable element the band’s embodied since their 1997 debutFour Minute Mile: a penetrating lyricism that’s both acutely introspective and indelibly resonant.

The follow-up to 2018’s Kicker EP, Problems came to life in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with the band holing up together for a three-week span. Working with Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Katis (Kurt Vile, Japandroids, The National), The Get Up Kids took a characteristically riff-driven yet decidedly pop-minded approach to song structure, while also allowing themselves a new sense of creative freedom. “At one point with this band, if we came up with something that felt too much like when we first started out, we would’ve said, ‘No, we can’t do that anymore,’” says Pryor. “These days we’ve learned how to write without roadblocking the ideas that come naturally to us.”

Kicking off with lead single “Satellite,” Problems opens on a stark arrangement of acoustic guitar and stripped-bare vocals, then bursts into brightly crashing rhythms and lyrics revealing the time-bending quality of The Get Up Kids’ songwriting. “I started writing ‘Satellite’ about my son who’s 14 and a total introvert—not antisocial, he just genuinely likes to keep to himself,” says Pryor. “But then somewhere down the line I started singing about myself—about how even when you’re playing a show to a room full of people, I can still feel anxious and isolated.”

Throughout Problems, The Get Up Kids again prove themselves attuned to the nuance of highly specific emotions, and ultimately validate the messiest and most nebulous of feelings. On the joyfully swinging, piano-heavy “The Problem Is Me,” for instance, the band explores the notion of embracing your own romantic dysfunction, while “Salina” captures a small moment of melancholy with sweeping intensity and sprawling guitar work. Later, on “Your Ghost Is Gone,” The Get Up Kids deliver a gently devastating piano ballad sparked from an instrumental piece Dewees wrote soon after his mother’s death.

Through the years, The Get Up Kids have purposely pushed themselves toward previously unexplored songwriting material. “I’m 41 now, I could never write a song like when I was 19—all those ‘I miss my girlfriend’ kind of songs,” Suptic says. “It’s always important to us to write about wherever we are right now.” As shown on Problems, the resulting output both preserves the beloved spirit of The Get Up Kids and creates an entirely new context for their music. “A big part of the reason why we started writing new songs in the first place is that we have things we want to say about this moment in time,” says Pryor. “We’re still so connected to our past and where this all came from—it’s definitely a celebration of the fact that we still get to do this.”

Band Members
Matt Pryor – Vocals/Guitars
Jim Suptic – Guitar
Rob Pope – Bass
James Dewees – Keyboards
Ryan Pope – Drums

Throughout his four solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has recognized in his work the ubiquity of an apparent religious theme. Though not identifying as “religious” in the slightest, Morby—the globetrotting son of Kansas City who has made music while living on both coasts before recently returning to his Midwestern stomping grounds—recognizes in himself a somewhat spiritual being with a secular attitude towards the soulful. And so, in an effort to tackle that notion head-on and once-and-for-all, he sat down in his form of church—on planes and in beds—and wrote what would become his first true concept-album: the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God.

“Religion is around all of us,” Morby says. “It’s a universal language and there is profound beauty in it. I’ve found it a useful tool within songwriting, as it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. There are religious themes or imagery in a lot of what I’ve done, so I wanted to get all of that out and speak only that language for a whole record. It’s not a born-again thing; it’s more that ‘oh my god’ is such a profound statement we all use multiple times a day and means so many different things. It’s not about an actual god but a perceived one, and it’s an outsider’s view of the human experience in terms of religion.”

Morby admits he has viewed the world through a skewed spiritual lens his entire life. As a kid he was told by his working-class parents that he was a Methodist, though the family rarely if ever made good on that claim come Sunday; he saw fire-and-brimstone billboards on Kansas roadways with the aim of scaring heathens straight. Despite his ignorance and indifference, religion seemed to be everywhere, and as Morby grew as a musician—playing bass for Woods, fronting The Babies, and with his solo career—he embraced its influence with his work. In 2016, on the heels of a trio of critically-acclaimed albums, he wrote the protest song “Beautiful Strangers” about the devastating world events of that year, and in it he inserted multiple “oh my god”s as pleas of desperation.

The song took off and the phrase became a mantra for Morby, inspiring him to weave the exclamation conceptually into the fabric of an entire album. In effect, he sought to highlight how that immortal turn of phrase embodies so much of our relationship with the sacred and profane—how religion is all around us, always, and that by simply uttering an OMG we enforce its ubiquity and ability to endure while humanizing its reach.

In January 2017, preceding the release of his fourth solo record City Music, Morby went into producer Sam Cohen’s Brooklyn studio for four days to record a handful of material written with his usual folk-meets-lo-fi-electric-guitar sound in mind. Cohen, with whom Morby made his 2016 breakthrough Singing Saw, had started recording the new songs with a business-as-usual mentality when on the third day he was struck with an idea: Rather than create what was becoming Singing Saw: Part 2, what if they stripped everything back and used only a few colours at a time instead of the entire Morby rock palette, focusing on Morby as hyper-literate singer instead of guitar-slinging troubadour?

Sam suggested that we make songs that sound like sonic pop-art that only have a few colors, like a Keith Haring piece,” Morby says. “My other records had tons of colors, so we decided to keep this stark, like a painting that’s black-and-white with one vibrant blue. We went back to the drawing board and thought about what we wanted to do conceptually across an entire piece. And for the first time I could do exactly what I wanted, as I had time and the ability to get everything precise. Sam encouraged me to let my lyrics sit on top of everything else, and that discovery and the confidence that came with making my fifth record helped me realize the new direction was exactly where we needed to be. We opened it up completely and set out to make something in its own universe.”

Over the remaining day-and-a-half, Morby and Cohen recorded new versions of four songs—“Oh My God,” “No Halo,” “Savannah,” and “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild,” the latter becoming a mission statement for the new sound and featuring Morby singing, Cohen playing a subtle organ part, and Morby’s drummer Nick Kinsey on congas. Breaking the songs down into their separate parts served Morby’s religious theme perfectly, as did the blueprint of “Beautiful Strangers,” and over the course of 2017 he wrote an album’s worth of similar songs while on tour.

As Morby jetted around the world playing shows, he came to realize that all that air travel was making its way into his music, too. He had always used his time in the sky to work on songs and listen to demos he had recorded, but he began noticing an aero-dynamic emerging in his lyrics as well. “Flying can be something of a religious experience for many people, myself included,” he says. “It’s unnatural, and it can be so scary being that high up—a few big bumps can even make an atheist pray. You’re anxious as you take off and thinking about death, then you level off and suddenly you’re in this kingdom above the clouds. There’s a holy feeling, and a big part of the record’s theme is being above the weather. The first song, ‘Oh My God,’ starts with chaotic hammering on a piano and then smooths out with a choir singing; it’s meant to mimic how I feel on an airplane.”

All that flying also meant Morby was sleeping in a new place each night, a situation he also learned to embrace creatively—most of Oh My God’s songs were written from beds. Morby typically starts and ends each day by playing guitar or writing songs while under the covers, a practice that mimics prayer in myriad ways. “There’s something sacred about working from bed,” he says. “It’s where you make love and where you dream. I always write just before I go to sleep and right when I wake up. It’s where I can access that feeling of dreams. Any bed is always a sanctuary, but my bed at home is the Holy Grail.”

Morby sought to represent these sentiments visually for the release of Oh My God. In addition to using a portrait of him reclining in his own fluffy-white bed at home in Kansas City on the album cover, he also worked with the filmmaker Chris Good on a short film to accompany the release. The film stars Morby as he wanders through a dream-like series of encounters—on planes, in cars, in a diner, at home in his back yard—and presents a Gondry-esque vision of the album and its holy mood.

Meanwhile, in January of 2018, a full year after their initial session, Morby and Cohen returned to the studio together to complete the album’s recording. They fine-tuned the rollicking opening trio—starting with the title track, then first single “No Halo,” and “Nothing Sacred/All is Wild”— and played with various styles and techniques throughout. The ethereal “Congratulations” was written in a dream, a first for Morby. (“Someone had been singing the chorus to me over and over, and I woke up in the morning and walked to my piano and wrote it then and there.”) “Seven Devils” features a ripping guitar solo by Morby’s bandmate Meg Duffy that evokes a distorted hellfire, and “Piss River” is a stream-of-consciousness, poetic and profound tune featuring harp played by Morby’s friend Mary Lattimore while the singer has a call-and-response conversation with himself. Saxophone duties throughout the record were handled largely by Cochemea Gastelum, and a seven-member choir appears as well. Morby directed Cohen in the creation of a track called “Storm (Beneath the Weather),” a 90-second ambient instrumental piece made with synthesizers to mimic what it can feel like under the clouds. “Above the weather, you’re safe and nothing can get to you; it’s heavenly, like you achieved peace,” Morby says. “Below that you’re subject to the insanity of humanity, or Mother Nature. I wanted a weird, atonal sound on the record to represent a storm, which feels in-line with the pop-art idea.”

“Hail Mary” may be the album’s grandest moment and is recognizable as one of the few guitar-driven songs that hearkens back to his previous work. Its heavy scope is still apparent despite the fact that Morby and Cohen edited it down from its original 15-minute-long, multiple-verse version into a concise five minutes and three verses. And as the final song, “O Behold,” makes a familiar, just-in-case farewell from an airplane seat (“If the plane’s on fire/know I love you”), the listener can sense the credits rolling as the clouds begin to break, grips loosen, and the kingdom comes into view. At 14 tracks and four sides, Oh My God is an actualized concept album with a contemporary feel that is sure to plant its maker firmly in a window seat at the front of the plane.

“This one feels full circle, my most realized record yet,” he says. “It’s a cohesive piece; all the songs fit under the umbrella of this weird religious theme. I was able to write and record the album I wanted to make. It’s one of those marks of a life: this is why I slept on floors for seven years. I’ve now gotten the keys to my own little kingdom, and I’m devoting so much of my life to music that I just want to keep it interesting. At the end of the day, the only thing I don’t want is to be bored. If someone wants to get in my face about writing a non-religious religious record? Thank god. That’s all I gotta say.”

This Kansas City songwriter made a strong debut with her stately, elegant full-length, The first two singles from Anna St. Louis’ debut album If There Only Was a River (“Understand” and “The Bells”) introduce us to the songwriter’s subtle fingerpicking style, but on “Desert,” the third, her husky tenor absolutely steals the spotlight. Low-lit by slow-burning electric guitar, St. Louis’ bewitchingly deep voice is a commanding force on the track and on the entire record.

If There Only Was a River is St. Louis’ proper full-length debut, the follow-up to First Songs, a tape of songs she released last year on Woodsist/Mare Records (now available digitally, too). St. Louis’ warm, dusty acoustic renderings need no introduction, but her new record arrives with a few familiar names attached: Kevin Morby and King Tuff’s Kyle Thomas are producers, and Night Shop’s Justin Sullivan, along with Pavo Pavo’s Oliver Hill, are both featured on the album’s 11 tracks

St. Louis uses nostalgic strings and expertly positioned vocal phrases to draw the listener into her heady, mesmerizing world, full of wobbly melodies and intently stated folk koans that continue to unfold in your mind long after the song comes to a close. Sometimes the simplest things are the most important, and St. Louis wields that wisdom with the dexterity of an expert, even though she’s just starting out.

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We are so excited to announce Shy Boy‘s Polyvinyl debut, Bell House! Shy Boys – DIY local champions of Kansas City, MO, who if you add it all up, are something sacred. Comprised of brothers Collin and Kyle Rausch and best friends Konnor Ervin, Kyle Little and Ross Brown, The album’s title is taken from the band’s beloved headquarters – the old house on Bell Street in Kansas City where they lived together for the better part of 5 years.

Hailed as “The Beach Boys on Robitussin”, Shy Boys were bred in the dankest basements of Kansas City, MO as a group of ill-fitting squares in a scene of punks and weirdos. We find these great friends now, still living & loving in KC, trading instruments while creating melodic, happy-sad tunes to make your heart swell.

Shy Boys are the heartland’s answer to The Beach Boys had Alex Chilton been on guitar.” – Kevin Morby
You can watch the lyric video for their first song “Take the Doggie” – a song that Pitchfork raves “…will warm your cold heart.”

Band Members
Collin Rausch, Kyle Rausch, Konnor Ervin, Kyle Little, Ross Brown

“Take the Doggie” is taken from Shy Boy’s new album, Bell House, out August 3rd, 2018.

Despite her last name, Anna St. Louis was born and raised in Kansas City. She grew up a painter and singing in punk bands, eventually leaving her hometown to attend art school in Philadelphia. After graduating she made the move to Los Angeles where she began teaching herself guitar, writing songs and recording them on her own in her bedroom. First Songs is the sound of someone discovering their talent in real time – a peak into the collage of a wonderful mind that is absorbing their new surroundings and using new tools to put them into the room. Listening to this collection you can feel the sun coming in through the window – Anna on the foot of the bed with a guitar on her knee, finding her voice. St. Louis wears her influences well – think Patsy Cline singing over John Fahey – but has a style all her own. And while you can take the artist out of the midwest, you can’t take the midwest out of the artist – so let this be known; this is Midwestern music ran through a California filter. I believe Anna will have many more releases in her lifetime, but let it all begin here – First Songs.

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Kevin Morby: “I love Baltimore. It is a city with a giant heart and has remained one of my favorite places to keep returning to on tour. It is unique and beautiful and you can’t mistake it for anywhere else in the world – Baltimore is one hundred percent Baltimore. All proceeds from both my and the label side will go to the Believe In Music education program, which provides “an innovative music education for Baltimore’s youth”. I do hope you enjoy both versions of the song and if you do decide to donate – thank you for contributing to what I believe to be a great cause.
I wrote Baltimore at the time I was conceiving both ‘Singing Saw’ and ‘City Music’ and recorded a version during both sessions with two different bands. I love the song dearly, but in the end thought that thematically it didn’t belong on either album, and thus have been waiting for this moment to release it as what it has always been meant to be – a single.”
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Believe in Music is so grateful to generous and talented Kevin Morby for the donation of proceeds from his new release, “Baltimore.” We feel strongly that both versions of the song reflect the character and unique vibe of Baltimore City. Having the support of successful, working musicians is incredibly meaningful for our students as they aspire to succeed through an education in music.

released October 25th, 2017

“Baltimore (Sky At Night)” features Sam Cohen on bass, Nick Kinsey on drums and Marco Benevento on piano. Recorded April 2015 at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY by Daniel Goodwin.

“Baltimore (County Line)” features Meg Duffy on bass and Justin Sullivan on drums. Recorded October 2015 at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach, CA by Drew Fischer.

CAPTIVA – ” Road To Ruin “

Posted: November 24, 2015 in MUSIC
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Here  we have the premiere of Road to Ruin from Kansas City band Captiva .

JJ Ries (vocals, guitar), Pat McQuaid (guitar, vocals), Nick Riffle (bass), and Hank Wiedel (drums) first bonded while holed up in school detention, and now free of the restraints of education, the youthful band have already started making waves stateside.

Captiva are due to release their debut self-titled EP next month, and Road to Ruin gives us a great introduction into their energetic and infectious brand of rock’n’roll that is made for the volume turned up load.

For those of you stateside, Captiva have a number of  shows coming up in the next couple of months.

Captiva