250 word album review: GospelbeacH – Another Winter Alive

GospelbeacH - Another Winter Alive

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GospelbeacH has really tapped into the Laural Canyon vibes for their album “Another Winter Alive.” The folky psyche-pop approach fits right in line with bands like the Fleet Foxes where bands created soundscapes and concentrated on the mood of a song.

The record is cleanly produced and filled with good melody, for the studio side at least. The album is split between studio takes and live cuts right down the middle. The peak is on the studio tracks, at times you’ll think of alt-country leanings like The Jayhawks on songs like “Down South” and other times they harken back to 70s FM rock. It’s hard not to feel the 70s influence of bands like Badfinger and Nick Lowe when you’re listening to the ultimate roadtrip song “Runnin’ Blind” where the band spits lyrics like Tom Petty. The build to the chorus of “Dreamin'” is well constructed and the song really typifies the mood of this record. Sonically the live side of the record is a bit jarring like on “California Steamer” and the band really sounds like a Velvet Undergound disciple on “Out of My Mind.”

The live side stands as it’s own animal, not bad but very different from the flip side. When thought of as two different pieces of work it is easier to take in and they can become complimentary of one another but are never quite in sync.

Key Tracks: “Runnin’ Blind” “Down South”

 

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COMING SOON: The Smoking Popes with Deco Auto and Hipshot Killer at The Riot Room in Kansas City, MO 12/2/18

WHO’S PLAYING?  Smoking Popes (Memphis, TN) Deco Auto (Kansas City) Hipshot Killer (Kansas City)

SmokingPopes.jpg

The Smoking Popes

 

WHAT TO EXPECT?  A pop punk slideshow, think the cool parts of the Warped Tour without all the people or 8,000 bands.

The Smoking Popes are a now legendary pop punk band from Chicago. The band broke through in 1995 with the success of their single “Need You Around” off their debut album. In 1997 they would release the fan favorite album “Destination Failure” and they are touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that record. The group also released a new album in October of this year and are obviously supporting that record as well. “Into The Agony” came out October 12th to critical acclaim and is considered among the best work of their career.

The Smoking Popes sound like: Morrissey, Bad Religion, a lounge singer that got stage rushed by a punk band

“Too pop for punk, too punk for pop.” It grew from a description to almost a mission statement for Kansas City’s Deco Auto. The group relies heavily on melody and guitar riffs to propel their songs. The power pop trio has a specialty of hooks and lots of them. Their debut full-length album “The Curse of Deco Auto” is a couple years old now as they come out of the woodwork to hone those songs and some new material.

Deco Auto sounds like: The Replacements, Nada Surf and skater shoes with no laces

Hipshot Killer is a hard edged Kansas City band that will easily be the most intense of the 3 bands on this bill. They are known for their intensity at their live shows and keeping everyone on their toes.

Hipshot Killer sounds like: Black Flag, The Clash and a disorderly uprising


WHERE IS IT?  The Riot Room (4048 Broadway, Kansas City MO 64111)

WHEN IS IT?  Sunday December 2nd, 2018; 8:00 PM, $15

Here is a link to buy your tickets right NOW.

WHY SHOULD I GO?

  • Tickets are $15… that’s the price of a meal… or two fancy beers
  • The Smoking Popes only have about 5 shows scheduled for the winter, this is one
  • Deco Auto is one of the more diverse opening bands in the area, netting opening slots for several different genres
  • Hipshot Killer is an intense local band renowned for their live shows
  • The Smoking Popes just released a new album in October
  • That album (“Into The Agony”) is among the best work of their career
  • The Popes dive deep into their back catalog at each show, the nostalgia train will be on its tracks

You should RSVP on facebook to the event so you don’t forget, here is the link: FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

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250 word album review: Bob Dylan – More Blood, More Tracks

Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks

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This 5 star album has been waiting to be released for decades. The often bootlegged “More Blood, More Tracks” or “Blood on the Tapes” or “New York Sessions” or whatever name it went by at the time has always been endlessly revered by Dylan fans and it’s official release is just further confirmation of its greatness.

Dylan is found here with a more stripped down version of his classic album “Blood On The Tracks.” This version of the songs is more cold and rigid, pushing the brutalness of the album to the surface. When it comes to the great songs possessed here you could easily argue the versions on this bootleg series are better than the original album tracks or vice-versa. For the mood of the album these version are without a doubt classic. The most important difference is the inclusion of one of Dylan’s best outtakes of his career, the sprawling and rambling “Up To Me.” The only disappointing thing is the packaging. The previous 13 bootleg series cds have been adorned with a slipcase and expansive booklet, this one is simply contained in a regular jewel case without any of the matching art from the other bootleg volumes.

The music is simply flawless here though, “Idiot Wind” is even more scathing and “Meet Me In The Morning” sounds even more rustic and bluesy. “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” is even more perplexing with the bare bones delivery too. This bootleg series is simply essential for any Dylan and most music fans in general.

Key Tracks: “Up To Me” “Idiot Wind” “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” “You’re A Big Girl Now”

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Coming Soon: The Bottle Rockets at Knuckleheads in Kansas City 11/18/18

WHO’S PLAYING?  The Bottle Rockets (St. Louis, MO)

The Bottle Rockets (Left to Right: John Horton, Mark Ortmann, Brian Henneman and Keith Voegele, Photo By Cary Horton

The Bottle Rockets (Left to Right: John Horton, Mark Ortmann, Brian Henneman and Keith Voegele) Photo By Cary Horton

 

WHAT TO EXPECT?  The Bottle Rockets are the elder statesmen of the alternative country scene. With their first record landing in 1993 they are a strong 25 years and 11 albums into their career. From their gritty debut self-titled album to the rock crossover hit “The Brooklyn Side” and then later on to their political masterpiece “Zoysia” they are a career band. Now with the 2018 release of “Bit Logic” they are treading on new territory but in old ways. The album has gotten great reviews with a couple strong singles off of it. The Missouri based “Highway 70 Blues” is sure to be a nice hit in Kansas City and the great “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw” is earmarked as a staple for all their shows for years to come. Their set should be heavy on “Bit Logic” with a nice sampling from their entire career as well.

Here is the 250 word album review of the brand new release “Bit Logic” from The Bottle Rockets:

Bottle Rockets - Bit Logic

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The Bottle Rockets proved they weren’t done making great music with 2015’s “South Broadway Athletic Club” and have returned in late 2018 with a record that is actually a little bit better.

The americana pioneers can come off like a bit of a curmudgeon at times here but it’s only understandable. The title track details the struggle with the digital age as does the song “Lo-Fi.” You’ll also find them complaining about how their career doesn’t pay the way it used to on “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw” and even about traffic on “Highway 70 Blues.” Luckily the songs are good enough to overcome the downer topics. On “Highway 70 Blues” they soundtrack the tough St. Louis to Kansas City trek with some good bluesy boogie. On “Outlaw” they get stompy and in a way only Brian Henneman can, the lyrics flow perfectly with the jangly music, so much so if it weren’t for his twangy delivery you might think he could rap the lyrics. On another Henneman gem, “Saxophone” is a great relationship song about trying to process the feelings when things start to fall apart. The slowed down delivery really helps drive the point home. The predominant mood is still bluesy country rock though with songs like “Knotty Pine” and the semi-mindless barroom rocker “Stovall’s Grove.”

You won’t be very surprised with what the Bottle Rockets deliver on “Bit Logic” but it’s also the band on par with the best they’ve ever been.

Key Tracks: “Highway 70 Blues” “Saxophone” “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw”

 

WHERE IS IT?  Knucklehead’s Saloon (2719 Rochester Street, Kansas City, MO)

WHEN IS IT?  Sunday, November 18th 2018; 8:00 PM, $15

Here is a link to buy your tickets right NOW.

WHY SHOULD I GO?

  • Tickets are $15… that’s pretty much the price of a meal
  • The Bottle Rockets are alt-country pioneers
  • The band’s latest album is one of their best, expect them to perform nearly all of it
  • You get to hear one of the best americana/alt-country bands of all-time
  • “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw” is a contender for song of the year
  • You can pick up their new album on cd or delicious vinyl
  • It’s a Sunday night and the show will likely start and end early, no excuses.

You should RSVP on facebook to the event so you don’t forget, here is the link: FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

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Album at a glance: Mod Hippe – Wannabe Nobody

Mod Hippie - Wannabe Nobody

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Mod Hippie is a down the middle rock project that pulls from various influences and wears them on their sleeves. It can be reserved and calm but also has a few surprises in store for listeners.

On “Saturday Show” you get a clear Cheap Trick inspired torch rocker that pushes the 7 minute mark to weed out the unbelievers to start the record. On the short follow-up song “Cricket LaRue” Mod Hippie indulges in some cleaned up 70s style garage rock making for one of the most unique songs on the album. On the perfectly transparent “Lux” you’ll find the collective band nailing a Cramps impersonation in the dedication to the band’s late singer. On The Replacement’s cover “Johnny’s Gonna Die” they sound more like that band’s hero Alex Chilton but the band really has fun here though making the record more enjoyable, especially on the punchy “And Everyone The Fashion (So Sorry)” that is full of loose guitar solos and a once again bouncy arrangement. You hear lots of influence from British Invasion bands and other 60s rock as well on songs like “We Leave It All Behind,” which seems to make up the backbone of the record. The latter part of the album is filled with moody and echoey vocals like on the album’s meandering closer “Whatever You Want.”

Mod Hippie’s “Wannabe Nobody” is an interesting listen with clearly talented musicians enjoying making music and you can hear it.

Key Tracks: “We Leave It All Behind” “Saturday Show”

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250 word album review: Bottle Rockets – Bit Logic

Bottle Rockets - Bit Logic

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The Bottle Rockets proved they weren’t done making great music with 2015’s “South Broadway Athletic Club” and have returned in late 2018 with a record that is actually a little bit better.

The americana pioneers can come off like a bit of a curmudgeon at times here but it’s only understandable. The title track details the struggle with the digital age as does the song “Lo-Fi.” You’ll also find them complaining about how their career doesn’t pay the way it used to on “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw” and even about traffic on “Highway 70 Blues.” Luckily the songs are good enough to overcome the downer topics. On “Highway 70 Blues” they soundtrack the tough St. Louis to Kansas City trek with some good bluesy boogie. On “Outlaw” they get stompy and in a way only Brian Henneman can, the lyrics flow perfectly with the jangly music, so much so if it weren’t for his twangy delivery you might think he could rap the lyrics. On another Henneman gem, “Saxophone” is a great relationship song about trying to process the feelings when things start to fall apart. The slowed down delivery really helps drive the point home. The predominant mood is still bluesy country rock though with songs like “Knotty Pine” and the semi-mindless barroom rocker “Stovall’s Grove.”

You won’t be very surprised with what the Bottle Rockets deliver on “Bit Logic” but it’s also the band on par with the best they’ve ever been.

Key Tracks: “Highway 70 Blues” “Saxophone” “Bad Time To Be An Outlaw”

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250 word album review: Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

Tom Morello - The Atlas Underground

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Tom Morello ditches his “The Nightwatchman” moniker for his latest solo release and thankfully so. This album couldn’t be further from the coffee shop militant we met on 2007’s “One Man Revolution.”

In Morello’s defense, this record isn’t intended to be in line with that material. I’ll start by answering the burning question, yes, he still whales on his guitar, although sparingly. It is mixed with club sounding songs and tons of keyboards, canned drums and instrumentation that takes songs in an entirely different direction. On “One Nation”  featuring Pretty Lights the guitar is missing and the song sounds like a bad dub dance remix of a song you never really liked in the first place. Other times songs land a little better like on the Marcus Mumford aided “Find Another Way” that sounds like a Gotye version of Mumford & Sons. The lyrics here still have a heavy political pull like on “Rabbit’s Revenge” that goes straight hip-hop with the help of “Bassnectar, Big Boi & Killer Mike. Another hip-hop inspired song serves as the album highlight thanks to the helpful hands of Vic Mensa on “We Don’t Need You” that definitely has a bit of a Rage Against The Machine feel albeit with far less rock involved.

At best this album shows Morello’s versatility in a solo career that began with a lone man and an acoustic guitar and now features guests on every track and heavy added instrumentation. This version of Morello is still talented but it leaves you holding out hope that The Nightwatchman will one day return.

Key Tracks: “We Don’t Need You”

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