Archive for the ‘McClain Approved’ Category

McClain Approved: Mess Unleashes a Glorious Wave of Sound at the Tank Room

February 21, 2017
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MESS at the Tank Room, 2/18/17

Up-and-coming Kansas City-based band Mess recently smashed the Tank Room with a rocking set of shoegaze and post punk vibes. I covered the show for X1051. I went into the show knowing nothing about them and was completely blown away. It was one of the best sets I’ve seen in 6 months. Check out this live video of the epic, sprawling sounds of Mess.

McClain Approved: Witch Jail.

October 8, 2016
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Witch Jail at Outer Reaches 2016.

Kansas City-based band Witch Jail unleashed their hard-hitting garage rock to Outer Reaches 2016. The left-of-center music festival was held at the RecordBar, in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 30th and October 1st, 2016. Witch Jail lead singer Guy Smiley looks like Roy Orbison and fat Elvis had a sweaty, trippy baby. Their short set was raucous, abrasive and excellent. Dive into the vibes of Witch Jail recorded live at Outer Reaches 2016:

McClain Approved: Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type “White Girls.”

August 31, 2016
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Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type Live at RecordBar 7/29/16

Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type is a Kansas City-based indie rock band. Songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Rachel Mallin’s lyrics are smart and biting. The band recently released their new EP Degenerate Matters. Live and on record, they bring the energy.

Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type’s “White Girls” is my favorite song of the year so far. The track is getting radio play from Kansas City to Sweden. Lyrically, Mallin brings the snark and lays the smackdown on stereotypical white girls, “There’s a special place in hell for girls like you/Go out on the weekends/Prey upon weak men that haven’t got a girl to come home to.” This heat is counterbalanced by an upbeat, indie surf rock vibe. It’s the kind of song Best Coast would love to write. It’s always great when sharp lyrics and an energetic groove combine to form a quality song. “White Girls” is one of the year’s best.

 

McClain Approved: Laura Gibson “Two Kids.”

June 30, 2016
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Laura Gibson in Kansas City, 6/20/16

Laura Gibson is a passionate songwriter and vocalist. She recently showcased her quality songwriting and glorious voice while opening for David Bazan in Kansas City. Gibson’s solo, acoustic set focused on songs off of Empire Builder, her excellent new album. Once you learn about Laura Gibson, you will have discovered one of the best singer-songwriters in music today. Her take on indie-folk is entrancing.

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Laura Gibson in Kansas City, 6/20/16

The jaunty, weird love song “Two Kids” is a great example of Laura Gibson’s appeal. Gibson’s emotive vocals soar over the sparse accompaniment of her acoustic guitar. The song is simple, direct and beautiful.

Here’s a solo, acoustic version of “Two Kids” recorded live at RecordBar:

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Myself and the lovely Laura Gibson

McClain Approved: The Greeting Committee “Hands Down.”

April 12, 2016
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The Greeting Committee at the Power & Light District, 4/9/16.

The Greeting Committee is a young indie rock band on the rise. The Kansas City-based band recently played SXSW and they are playing Lollapalooza 2016. The Greeting Committee features guitarist and lead singer Addie Sartino, bassist Pierce Turcotte, guitarist Brandon Yangmi, and drummer Austin Fraser. All of the band members are still in high school. They are signed to Los Angeles-based record label Harvest Records, which also features Best Coast and Glass Animals on its roster.

I recently caught the Greeting Committee’s headlining set at local radio station 96.5 the Buzz‘s Homegrown Buzz Music Showcase. Live, the songs have even more power and Addie’s vocals soar. I go to a lot of shows and the wonderful joy the Greeting Committee have playing is infectious. Those indie rock happy sensors go off in your body and gets you fired up. Their single “Hands Down” is a tight, well-crafted indie-pop song. It’s so inspiring to see a young band having fun doing what they love. The future is bright for the Greeting Committee.

McClain Approved: Underworld “Low Burn.”

March 22, 2016

Underworld is my favorite band. The English duo is composed of lyricist/vocalist Karl Hyde and multi-instrumentalist/producer Rick Smith. Active since 1980, Underworld has always had a more mature take on dance music. It’s still a party, but a weird and wonderful one. I collect Underworld live bootlegs and I have almost everything they have released. Underworld has a very signature sound. Some of their tracks focus on minimal ambient pulses, while others are full blown rave epics. The lyrics often float by in fragments, like a strange dream. Unlike a lot of other dance music, there can be a wonderful subtlety to Underworld’s music.

A recent piece in the Guardian describes a major turning point in Underworld’s career;

The following sounds like a convenient myth, but it’s true: in 1990 Smith’s total income was £120, and his wife, Tracy, convinced him to change tack and make music he liked. “The best thing that ever happened to me,” Smith says. Interested in techno, he started working with young DJ Darren Emerson, and his world turned around. Hyde went along with him: “After 10 years of being conscious of what’s in the charts, what the record labels want, what we think we should be doing, which people didn’t get anyway, the minute our music got honest and personal, it became open to people.”

Being true to themselves helped Underworld connect with people in an honest way. It’s inspiring. Hyde and Smith don’t create tracks with cliche buildups or chase EDM trends. Underworld exists within their own musical space. Their latest album, Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future, showcases many of the qualities that make Underworld so great. It is one of the best albums of the year. The slow building track “Low Burn” is my favorite song off of the album. The stream-of-consciousness lyrics and the rolling beats mesh together beautifully and could only come from Underworld. The future is shining and it will be glorious.

McClain Approved: Garmiani “Bomb A Drop.”

March 22, 2016
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Garmiani (image via http://www.salacioussound.com

When the weather gets warmer, my taste in tunes starts shifting back to my love of dance music. When it comes to dances tunes, I’m looking for forward momentum and quality production.  It’s always fun to see what new tracks stand out from the pack and really grab my attention.

Garmiani is a Swedish bass DJ and producer. I love the dancehall-trap fusion vibes of his track “Bomb A Drop.” He samples Ding Dong’s “Badman Forward Badman Pull Up,” but amps things up to a whole different level. It sounds like the kind of track Major Lazer should still be creating. The production is a bit left-of-center in places, but the tune still goes hard. Garmiani really brings the energy and “Bomb A Drop” sounds like a hard-hitting summer anthem in the making.

McClain Approved: The Meters “It Ain’t No Use.”

March 10, 2016
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The Meters (image via http://www.kalamu.com)

McClain Approved is a column where I give you the rundown on an artist you need to know and share a track from them.

“I know some people who think that KC and the Sunshine Band is funky and that’s just WRONG,” my friend said with disdain. It’s true. Once you have seen the glory of real funk, it is a complete game changer. A lot of people are funk deficient and they don’t even realize it. I consider myself a funk evangelist. Seeing something raw and real can forever change your outlook.

Tapping into New Orleans and NOLA funk helped me transcend my squareness. NOLA reshaped and upgraded my personal understanding of funk. Funk itself can be hard to define, because there are so many subtleties and varieties. However, for me, it is all about the groove. I call bad funk “flaccid, sad trombone funk.” WAHHHH WAHHHHHH. This is unacceptable. A person can become a funk snob, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s like learning to speak a whole new language. New Orleans expands your idea of what funk can be and how funky things can become. We have seen shows were the funk goes beyond reality and into a whole different level. Once you know, you know. It is like a funk enlightenment. There is no going back.

You might ask, “McClain, who is the funkiest band to ever come from NOLA?” It’s the Meters, of course. The Meters helped to invent funk. They took second line rhythms and R&B grooves and injected them with their own brand of real, organic funk. Their loose but tight sound could only come from NOLA. The Meters were formed in 1966, in New Orleans. The members of the Meters are keyboardist Art Neville, bassist George Porter Jr., drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, and guitarist Leo Nocentelli. Percussionist/vocalist Cyril Neville joined the group in 1970. I have been fortunate to have interviewed several members of the Meters over the years. They are gracious, passionate about music and truly tapped into another way of thinking. Their musical innovation and positive mindset are inspiring. Even today, the members of the Meters are still pushing funk forward. The group disbanded in 1977, but have reunited several times since. They are playing a night show at the Orpheum Theater, in New Orleans, during Jazz Fest 2016. The Meters are beloved by many musicians, but seem overlooked by a lot of music fans.

The Meters have a song that serves as a mission statement for me, “Funkify Your Life.” The lyrics almost act as a manifesto, “Fukify your life, get on down. You can be the funkiest in town.” I mean, why the hell wouldn’t you want to be the funkiest in town? When you sit down and think about it, being funkier is the only sensible option. Be better, be more, funkify your life!

I wanted to share a deeper Meters cut with you. This 1975 live version of “It Ain’t No Use” was recorded on the Queen Mary. The band’s interplay is really on point here. George and Zigaboo take the funk into new realms on this version. THEY GET DOWN! Once you learn about the Meters, your life will forever be funkified.

McClain Approved: MisterWives “Best I Can Do.”

March 3, 2016
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MisterWives (image via http://www.interviewmagazine.com)

McClain Approved is a column where I give you the rundown on an artist you need to know and share a track from them.

As it starts to ease into spring and summer, I get in the mood for some happy-clappy indie pop. MisterWives put out some of the best high energy happy-clappy tunes out today. They are also a past interview subject of mine.

The New York City-based band is gaining a lot of popularity on the strength of their songs and excellent live shows. They bring the heat live. KC folks: MisterWives will be with Walk the Moon at Crossroads KC August 17th. Vocalist Mandy Lee is one of the best singers in music today. She can sing her ass off. Their debut album, Our Own House, was one of my favorite releases of last year.

I love the touches of horns on album track “The Best I Can Do.” Songs like this can give you the energy to outrun all the bath salt smoking zombies downtown. Amazing vocals and a sugar rush of a song. MisterWives make quality tunes for getting out there and beasting it hardcore

McClain Approved: Blair “Wolfboy.”

February 24, 2016
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Blair (image via pastemagazine.com)

McClain Approved is a column where I give you the rundown on an artist you need to know and share a track from them.

Blair is an artist that is a compelling songwriter and a glorious vocalist. I know her from my time in New Orleans. She is my favorite indie artist to have come out of NOLA. I first saw her live on my 18th birthday. Several years ago, she walked out of SXSW with a record deal from prestigious indie label Autumn Tone. The New Orleans-born musician is currently based in Massachusetts. She is also a member of Future of What and Maxi’s World. I’m throwing it back to a older Blair song. Here is an early version of “Wolfboy.” Everything just meshes together so well on this track.

Here is a bonus track. I also love this trippy ballad about NOLA dive bar the Half Moon: