Archive for May, 2016

The Meowification of Indie Rock.

May 31, 2016

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I’m a big fan of indie rock. Left-of-field sounds get me all hyped up. I love music that gets my indie sense tingling. You search for those sounds that get you musically fired up inside. As a music fan, it’s a joyous feeling you chase and crave. One of my preferred subgenres of indie rock is something I call the meowification of indie rock.

I love when artists/bands unleash these glorious soundscapes. Then, you get on the mic and meow your way to the indie rock glory land. It’s a strange sound of pure sonic bliss. Roll those beats, mew from the soul and beast it hardcore! The time is meow!

Here are a few of my favorites from what I consider to be part of the meowification of indie rock:

The Glory of Sonic Spectrum.

May 30, 2016
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Sonic Spectrum (Image via http://www.965thebuzz.com)

Sonic Spectrum is my favorite radio show. The show airs on Kansas City-based radio station 96.5 The Buzz. Sonic Spectrum is a freeform radio show that focuses on new and classic indie rock.
Host Robert Moore’s passion for music is inspiring. You can’t fake great taste and Moore’s taste is exceptional. I think he is so hip, he probably can’t even see over his pelvis. He is flyer than a pelican. Moore has am ear for quality music. It’s almost like he gets on air and goes, “This track is so new, I time-traveled into the future to get it. It hasn’t even technically been created yet.” Some of his selections are trippy and excellent, “This track was recorded on a Norwegian ice flow with wood blocks.” It makes you want to learn more about great music you’ve never heard of before. I’ll often hear a track he spins and go, “I don’t know what the heck that was, but I love it and need more of it in my life!”
Radio shows like Sonic Spectrum, curated by someone with great taste, can help make your world a more musically joyous place. For an example of some of the tunes played on Sonic Spectrum, check out this playlist created by fan Patrick Morrissey. Sonic Spectrum airs Saturday nights from 8-10pm CST on 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City and can streamed live online at http://www.965thebuzz.com/

An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Kate Cosentino.

May 20, 2016
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Kate Cosentino (Image via http://www.k8cosentino.com)

Kate Cosentino is a Kansas City-based singer-songwriter. Her latest release is the Smart EP. Kate recently discussed her creative process. favorite songwriters and lyrical inspiration.

Did you come from a musical family? We’re your parents musical?
My immediate family isn’t very musical as in they don’t sing or play any instruments, however they really enjoy music in terms of daily listening and going to concerts. I have a couple of aunts who sing ,but other than that I am the musical “ugly duckling.”

How old were you when you wrote your first song?
I was probably in the 2nd or 3rd grade when I wrote my first song, so around 8 years old. Pretty sure it had to do with dancing and butterflies.

Who are some of your favorite songwriters and why?
Regina Spektor is probably my all time favorite songwriter because she is completely unafraid. She writes about the weirdest things and uses strange vocal techniques and instruments and totally owns it.

Sufjan Stevens. He writes very specific strange lyrics that transport you into the stories he’s singing about and it somehow feels very relatable. It’s unique and relatable all it once, which is really impressive to me.

TuNe-YaRds. Meryl of tune yards writes political and social messages into her songs in an amazing and creative way. She also uses a looper to come up with cool arrangements and harmonies, which I’ve been messing with lately too because of her.

What is your creative process when writing songs? Do you start with lyrics or melody first?
It all depends on the song. I typically have either one line or a subject matter the whole song stems from. Then I play guitar and sing around until I land on something that fits.

What inspires you lyrically?
Stories and puns inspire me lyrically. Any clever phrases or ideas make me immediately turn to pen and paper. However, hearing moving stories from others or my own life inspire me as well. Also, nerdy things like Batman and the periodic table because I can easily nerd out to music.

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Kate Cosentino (Image via http://www.k8cosentino.com)

How often do you find yourself writing songs?
I try to play music every day. I usually goof around with song ideas all the time, but I probably sit down to write a song around once a month. I gather a bunch of ideas constantly though.

What was the first song written for the Smart EP?
The first song I wrote for the EP was “London.” I also made it the first track because it sounds like the beginning of an adventure to me.

What inspired “Moving More?”
My school was having a diversity assembly and they asked me to perform a song about diversity. I decided to write “Moving More” because of that opportunity, but I didn’t want to write the standard “love each other, we are one” song. So I focused on the diversity of people’s problems.

Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
I live by the idea of making the world a better place everyday by affecting other people’s lives in a positive way. I also live by the idea that if it’s what you love, it’s what you should pursue.

 

Saturday at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 19, 2016
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Crowd at CrossroadsKC for Manchester Orchestra during Middle of the Map 2016

Middle of the Map Fest 2016 wrapped up with a diverse mix of artists from indie rock to rap. Here’s my rundown of Saturday at Middle of the Map:

Past interview subjects Pink Royal got the day rolling at CrossroadsKC with some potent, groovy indie jams.

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Pink Royal at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Light Music brought their trippy electronica-tinged indie jams to CrossroadsKC. The past interview subjects played one of the strongest sets of the fest.

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Light Music at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Past interview subjects Bassh showcased their indie pop jams. The Nashville-based band delivered a tight set. Their single “Body” was a big highlight.

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Bassh at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires delivered an extremely passionate and soulful set at The Midland. I was fortunate to meet the Screaming Eagle of Soul before his set. He is a class act and an inspiration.

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Manchester Orchestra smashed the CrossroadsKC crowd with their epic style of indie rock. The Atlanta-based band’s songs sounded even bigger live.

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Manchester Orchestra at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

St. Louis-based rap group Illphonics delivered a hard-hitting set of hip hop late night at The Tank Room. The set closed out my coverage of Middle of the Map.

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Illphonics at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

The quality and diversity represented in the artists playing Middle of the Map helped to make it a wonderful experience. Over the course of the 20 sets I witnessed in three days, I saw no bad sets. The emphasis on local artists really showcased the strength of the Kansas City music scene. It will be fascinating to see what the future holds for Middle of the Map Fest.

Friday at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 19, 2016

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Theta Intellect at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Middle of the Map Fest 2016 showcased a diverse range of artists. Here are some of my highlights from Friday at Middle of the Map Fest:

Theta Intellect opened up CrossroadsKC on Friday with a mix of funk, soul and hip hop.

Past interview subjects Rachel Mallin and the Wild Type won over the crowd at CrossroadsKC with a set of shimmery indie rock jams. Their tight songs sounded beautiful wafting through the breeze. It was one of the best sets of the festival.

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Rachel Mallin and the Wild Type at Middle of the Map 2016

Past interview subjects Kangaroo Knife Fight delivered a set of soulful indie rock at CrossroadsKC.

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Kangaroo Knife Fight at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Past interview subjects Not a Planet played the first ever set at the new RecordBar. Their high-energy  rock had the crowd moving. The new RecordBar is intimate and the location will make the venue a draw for quality indie rock in the Crossroads.

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Not z Planet at Middle of the Map 2016

The set by Vince Staples at the Midland was on point, but poorly attended. Less than 1,000 people watched the acclaimed rapper.

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Vince Staples at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Cold War Kids brought their hooky indie rock to CrossroadsKC. It was my first Cold War Kids gig in nine years. They still bring the heat live. Classic tunes like “First” lit the crowd up.

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Cold War Kids at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Yes You Are played an energetic late night set to a packed Tank Room. Their glistening indie jams made for a perfect end to Friday at Middle of the Map.

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Yes You Are at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

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Taking a break from coverage with Brittany Hand

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Chilling with Rachel Malin

 

Thursday at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 18, 2016
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Shadow Rabbits at Middle of the Map 2016

The 2016 edition of Kansas City’s Middle of the Map Fest showcased a great mix of local and national acts. The festival was a joyous overload of music. I was able to catch 20 sets in three days at Middle of the Map Fest 2016. The diversity and quality of the bands featured was staggering. I spent Thursday at Middle of the Map bouncing around between Californo’s basement and their outdoor patio. Here is a rundown of some of Thursday’s highlights:

Shadow Rabbits got the evening rolling with sharp, pulsing indie rock.

The Blackbird Revue showcased their quality Americana vibes on the patio.

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The Blackbird Revue at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Golden Groves specializes in groovy indie rock vibes. The rocking track “Ideas” really got the band and crowd moving.

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Golden Groves at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

My Oh My! played a set of soulful Southern-tinged rock on the patio. It was perfect sonic accompaniment to the setting sun.

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My Oh My! at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Canada’s Foxes in Fiction delivered an entrancing solo set. It was one of the best sets I have ever seen. The music was serene, trippy and beautiful.

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Foxes in Fiction at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

Your Friend’s emotional solo set closed out my evening. The Lawrence-based artist is signed to prestigious indie label the Domino Recording Company. Her passionate vocals and lovely, sprawling beats were the perfect combination of honesty and otherworldly beauty.

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Your Friend at Middle of the Map Fest 2016

The Greeting Committee Rock Charlie Hustle.

May 14, 2016
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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

Kansas City-based indie rock band the Greeting Committee recently played a free set at the headquarters of local clothing company Charlie Hustle. Their joy and passion is infectious. It’s so inspiring to see bands that truly love what they do. The Greeting Committee bring the energy. The band are one of my past interview subjects, signed to Harvest Records and are playing Lollapalooza in July. The future is bright for the Greeting Committee.

Here are some behind the scenes photos and videos:

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Addie Sartino of the Greeting Committee 5/12/16

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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

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The Greeting Committee at Charlie Hustle 5/12/16

What’s the key to indie rock glory? It might be being on point:

Drum jam:

“Out Of My Head” snippet:

“Hands Down” snippet:

The Entrancing Soundscapes of Your Friend Shine at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 11, 2016
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Your Friend at Middle of the Map Fest 2016 5/5/16

Going into Middle of the Map Fest 2016, Your Friend was the set I was looking forward to the most. She was one of the best of the 20 sets I caught at the fest. Your Friend is Lawrence, Kansas-based musician Taryn Miler. Miller is signed to heavyweight indie label Domino Recording Company (Domino is also home to artists like Real Estate and Dan Deacon). Her debut album, Gumption, is one of my favorite releases of the year.
A large crowd packed the basement of Californo’s to see Your Friend’s set. Miller’s shifting soundscapes were entrancing. Her vocals had more clarity and depth live. Miller would jump from guitar to looping pedal to synth, often the same song, to craft her tunes. Songs like “Gumption” grew from soft murmurs into sweeping epics. Towards the end of her set, Taryn mentioned that she had had a live band until last week and that this might be her last show for awhile. She shouldn’t worry. Your Friend’s solo set at Middle of the Map Fest proved that she can go it alone and reach glorious heights.

The Serene Sound of Foxes in Fiction.

May 10, 2016
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Foxes in Fiction at Middle of the Map Fest 2016 5/5/16

Ethereal waves of sound cascaded over the crowd gathered in the basement of Californo’s during Foxes in Fiction’s set at Middle of the Map Fest 2016. Going into his set never having heard his music, it was one of the best live sets I have ever seen. I listen to a lot of indie rock and have covered a ton of shows over the years. Music like this is a sound that I am forever chasing.

Foxes in Fiction is the solo project of Canadian musician Warren Hildebrand. His music flows, shifts and shimmers. Standing alone onstage, Hildebrand would play notes then loop and twist them into glorious soundscapes. The use of tone and space in his music really enhances the songs. Some of the pieces were reminiscent of early Youth Lagoon. His vocals were often soft utterances. The weird, ambient beauty of Foxes in Fiction’s music is really something to behold. The vibe his hour-long set created was absolute perfection. Moments of discovering wonderful new music are what make festivals like Middle of the Map so important. The glistening serenity of Foxes in Fiction’s music is a truly moving experience.

The Inspirational Soul of Charles Bradley at Middle of the Map Fest 2016.

May 10, 2016
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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at the Midland 5/7/16

I consider myself to be a funk evangelist. It’s one of my many missions in life. I truly believe in the importance of spreading the good word of funk to the world. A lot of people are funk deficient and they don’t even know it. The wonderful and soul enriching power of music is so beautiful. No matter how funky you are, you could always be funkier. It is a never-ending, joyous journey. Charles Bradley’s set in Kansas City Saturday night reaffirmed my dedication to bring the funk to the people.

Charles Bradley is an underrated soul singer. Bradley overcame a rough childhood and homelessness to pursue his love of music. Known as the Screaming Eagle of Soul, he is signed to the excellent funk and soul label Daptone Records. The 67-year-old Bradley began his career as a James Brown impersonator, but has carved out his own path. He is not an artist just mining nostalgic ideas. Bradley is honest, real and in the now.

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at the Midland 5/7/16

Over 500 people came out to the Midland to see his set as a part of Middle of the Map Fest 2016. Bradley and his tight band, the Extraordinaires, burned through an hour of simmering ballads and uplifting soul. It was one of the funkiest shows I’ve seen in years.

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at the Midland 5/7/16

Live, the songs took on even more emotion and energy than the recorded versions. Bradley left so much of himself on that stage. The passion he has for his music is infectious.

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I was fortunate to briefly meet Charles before his set. I told him about my funk deficiency theory and said he is a catalyst for positive change in funk. “I’ve paid my dues,” he said in a gravelly voice. Charles Bradley’s humility, positive outlook and his love of music is inspiring.