Sunday, January 17, 2010

t-minus two months until sxsw

it's only two months away! here's a few more artists to check out when you're in austin.

Ólöf Arnalds

any friend of Sigur Ros is a friend of mine. she plays a mix of Icelandic folk mixed with coffee house music. good stuff.

Azure Ray

together again! Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, two great singer songwriters from Omaha are getting their old group back together. should be a beautiful set.


on one of the more mysterious labels right now Secretly Canadian Records, this should be an experimental and weird, but good time.

Kat Edmonson

a good mix of jazz and pop from the girl next door. she's from austin, so it could be a good turnout.

Deer Tick

good, raspy-voiced indie folk and alt-country type stuff. front man, John McCauley's got one of those voices that can capture you.


they are a danish group that sounds like Sigur Ros at times and Grizzly Bear at others. if these guys get to play in Second Presby Church venue it could be a special night.

Electric President

if this really happens i'll be so happy. their self-titled album from 2006 was awesome and then they disappeared. it's good mix of folk, pop and electronica; three magic words when used in the same sentence make me really happy. these guys were on the Morr label, every artist on this German label is amazing too.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

once over: "contra" by vampire weekend, release date jan 12

i loved the first release from vampire weekend. it was a self-titled release in 2008 from the four students from columbia university. it had a sound that i hadn't heard for a long time. i'd say the closest thing i could relate it to was paul simon during his "graceland" and rhythm of the saints" days.

i'm not saying it was a classic like "graceland" is, but who knows in ten years how "vampire weekend" will be viewed.

with their new album, "contra", before pushing play i was expecting a repeat. thinking a lot more of the same. happily, it sounds like their sound in the two years since their last release has got deeper. the lyrics are a little tighter. the music's a little more open. some of the songs feel a little synth-ed up and even some dabblings in electronica. i can dig that.

if you had a chance to see these guys live at liberty hall in lawrence on 9/11/08 at their amazingly packed and sold out show you know they look like four boys plucked from cul-de-sacs in the neighboring suburbs. nice, and clean shaven, this album feels more skinny jeans and PBR friendly. it's got more of a hipster, indie vibe to it and that's fine. i mean, they did all go to columbia, i think hipster flows through the water fountains on that campus.

if the last track of the album, "i think ur a contra" is any indication of the direction of this band, you know the same way a franchise film leaves you hanging knowing there will be a sequel, vamprie weekend's third album will be their best. it's a mix of grizzly bear and the antlers. i know a lot of bands are heading down that road right now, but that road's one of my favorite streets in town.

favorite track: "horchata"
here's a video from a live show, but overdubbed is the audio from the album. this being the second week of the year, in the bleak of mid-winter so to speak, this song really makes you remember summertime. a feeling we could all use a little of in kansas city right now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

it's only tuesday, but let's talk about the weekend

this weekend may offer 2 feet of snow and some other polar bear friendly conditions, but you need to crawl out of your cave. there's WAY too much cool stuff happening for you to stay home and watch another "jersey shore" marathon on mtv.

FRIDAY NIGHT - your agenda
what: Mid America Manifesto: Music Poster Design and Printmaker Showcase
where: 1819 Central Gallery + Event Space
when: the gallery opens friday, january 8 at 6:00 pm. it will remain on display until march 4
more info here.

the gallery will feature concert posters from some of your favorite local and national bands and probably some of the bands you are in. the Alacartoona poster above is by GravityInk who will be at the event.

what: Michael Byars gets the "Tantrum" treatment at the Westport Coffeehouse Theatre
when: Friday, January 8 from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
more info here.

the good people of the Tantrum improvisational troupe have been looking for a sacrificial lamb to start the new decade with - guess who? our favorite KCUR Morning Edition host, Michael Byars. it should be a good and hilarious time.

what: Brannock Device, Howard Iceberg and Grisly Hand at Davey's Uptown
when: Friday, January 8 at 9:30 pm
more info here.

THREE great bands all under one warm roof.

what: Mark Lowrey vs Hip Hop at Czar Bar
when: Friday, January 8 at 10 pm
what it all means: Lowrey and Brandon Draper will be playing jazz vs the freestyle hip hop stylings of Les Izmore (hearts of darkness), Sephiroth, Vertigone, and Swayzorblades

SATURDAY NIGHT - your agenda

what: The Old Canes, The Caves and Cowboy Indian Bear
when: Saturday, January 9 at 10 pm
what it all means: back in 2004, one of Tim Finn's favorite albums of the year was "Early Morning Hymns" by The Old Canes. in 2009 they re-emerged and are now signed to Saddle Creek. the video above shows the creation of their newest album from 2009, "Feral Harmonic".

additionally, it was one of my favorite albums of the year in 2004 and the lead singer, Chris Crisci is the lead singer of my beloved, The Appleseed Cast.

what: screening of the film, "The Room" and SH3PP@MA+ICS (Nomath/Botnet Hive) at Czar Bar
when: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 9:05pm - till 3am (yep, now open till 3am)
more info here.

come for a screening of the cult classic film and stay for beats by SH3PP@MA+ICS (Nomath/Botnet Hive) & IGGYBABY (Botnet Hive).

Friday, January 1, 2010

my favorite shows of the decade in kansas city - 23 of them

all these lists, when will they end? well, pretty soon. this list is a list i tried to avoid making. however after reading over all of the lists submitted on tim finn's (one of my favorite people in the world) back to rockville blog i was motivated.

the lists there were heavy on kemper arena and sprint center shows. i've said it a hundred times, your favorite band should never play sprint center, or whatever large box arena in the city you live. if your favorite show can happen in the bottleneck, in a room that can hold 400 people, where the artist walks through the room to get on stage you're guaranteed a more intimate show. and in many cases you can meet the band at the merch table or by their van (notice i didn't say bus).

so, with smaller venues in mind, i give you my favorite shows of the decade from kansas city and lawrence in the order they happened.

1/20/00 our lady peace hurricane
i loved this band. they were at their peak, playing huge rooms but took the night off and played a tiny room and on top of that it was an all acoustic show.

8/4/01 the appleseed cast hurricane
this show was ground breaking for me. their album "low level owl: volume 1" was about to come out and it was my first time seeing the cast. even now, almost 10 years later i get excited for everyone of their shows. and the best part, they're from right here in kansas city!

11/27/01 u2 kemper
10 weeks after 9-11 U2 plucked all the heart strings in that building for 2 hours. it really was an amazing show.

3/9/02 nikka costa beaumont
the crowd was small, but mighty for this funk, jam rock, dance party. unfortunately nikka continues to fly below the radar but she deserves the big stage. book her at bonnaroo before phish and she'd be huge!

4/22/02 sasha and digweed uptown
out of the way haters. back in the early 2000s kansas city had a small, but loyal electronica scene. small shows happened every weekend in the craziest of rooms. when this show was announced, in that community, it was like the beatles were coming.

11/14/02 aimee mann liberty hall
aimee's ability to spoon out her soul and feed it to her audience is amazing. that night everything was perfect. she was on tour in support of hew new album, "lost in space" coming off of "bachelor no. 2" and her contributions to the "magnolia" film soundtrack had her at her peak and earning well deserved respect.

9/17/03 rem starlight
i was with great friends and we had just lost a dear friend a month to the date of that show. michael stipe said her name twice and dedicated "nightswimming" to her. it was amazing.

04/28/04 damien rice liberty hall
i'd built this show up in my head for six months and it lived up to the hype. he turned liberty hall into a library, so quiet and attentive. damo and lisa hannigan's vocals ripped through that place.

6/18/2005 matisyahu wakarusa
his heyday has certainly passed, but that night during his 3am set on the campground stage, musically it was like seeing snow for the first time. to see a hasidic jew in full garb, suit, hat, vest, and a profound beard beat boxing it was something else.

07/08/05 the album leaf jackpot
it was a show that brought out the uber smug and man were we a happy bunch. most of the time when you love a band you want everyone to know about them. you not knowing about this band is ok with me. i'll keep it for myself. that's how good it was. please come back.

8/23/05 the white stripes starlight
from the second row, during the second song i said to my buddy, this will be one of the best shows we ever see. and it was. i know bono thinks he's god, but i'd rather believe in jack white.

10/8/05 william elliott whitmore replay
it was $2 to see this show. $2. think about that. will sat on a stool in the corner of the replay lounge and it was like a friend playing in your living room, but a friend who sounded like a young tom waits.

2/18/06 NIN kemper
i was a fan of their music but didn't know what to expect. the production was crazy, scrim, huge projector, moving stage structures and perhaps bigger than all that trent reznor's expressed appreciation for his fans standing by him while he went through a crazy period of his life.

2/22/06 sigur ros uptown
the first time i saw them was five months before this show in minneapolis and it goes down as one of the best shows i've ever seen. this was equally impressive, but better it was in my hometown and i didn't need a hotel room.

5/22/06 imogean heap bottleneck
i've never seen the bottleneck so full and so hot. the walls were sweating. she was a fast, rising star and filled the stage with her musical trinkets and gadgetry and together the room lived her music. she came back six months later to liberty hall. it was equally impressive and equally full.

10/3/06 mew bottleneck
i had never heard of them and i'd only listened to them on cd for the first time on the drive from kansas city to the bottleneck. they had a guitar tech at the bottleneck. they brought in extra boards, extra lights, extra crew... madonna could have played they had so much stuff. once they fired it up it was beyond impressive.

03/31/07 explosions in the sky bottleneck
i had no idea how anyone knew about this band. then i learned about the tv show "friday night lights" and that the explosions impressively score every episode. then it made sense why the room was so full and so young. those guys filled the room with their musical thrashings for the most receiving of crowds. i was overjoyed to see a young crowd turn out like that to see an "instrumental" band, or a band that has no singer. they would come back later to the granada and do the same thing.

11/21/07 john butler trio voodoo
every once in a while kansas city surprises me. this was one of those nights. it was the night before thanksgiving which is a great night to go to the bars, but i was imagining a terrible night to go see an australian band at a casino that had never played in kansas city before. people showed up in droves! we were all treated to one of the best performances of butler's well known "ocean" that i'd ever heard.

05/05/08 the swell season uptown
less than 3 months after giving their acceptance speech for winning an oscar for the film "once" they came through town and filled the uptown with such a great love story. as impressive as the show was, was the sold out crowd that came out for the show. again, kansas city surprised me. their return show in 2009 was also another remarkable night.

09/05/08 this will destroy you jackpot
watching their drummer andrew miller is like watching "neo" in "the matrix". no one moves like that. his drumsticks are only sticks for a few seconds before they become shrapnel flying through the air. that kind of intensity pounded the walls of the jackpot all night. i love these guys.

05/11/09 manchester orchestra record bar
06/24/09 phoenix record bar
11/09/09 leonard cohen midland

you can read my thoughts on these shows in an older post HERE.

2010 to 2019 has some lofty goals. good luck.