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HMPH!
"Headrush
"
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Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
 
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
 
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”
 

At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.” 


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Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
 
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
 
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”
 
At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.”
 
 
Join HMPH! on Friday at Harling’s Upstairs. They’ll be releasing Headrush through Haymaker Records. Vinyl and cassette copies of the album will be available for purchase. Preorder here. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands. 

August 20, 2015
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(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
The last time Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear took the main stage at The Midland, they were opening up for B.B. King in one of his final performances. At this point, last October, the mother/son duo was just being introduced to listeners not just around the country, but in their hometown as well. They had recently been signed to Glassnote Records after wowing a roomful of record executives in Muscle Shoals and playing a secret showcase at Third Man Records in Nashville during the Americana Music Festival.
 
Not long before that, Ruth and Madisen Ward were playing to small but enthusiastic audiences in and around their hometown of Independence. Ruth has been a musician for most of her life, playing the Midwestern circuit as a folk songwriter in the early ‘70s. She returned to music after her three children had grown, and her youngest son Madisen began accompanying her to coffeehouse gigs, sometimes joining her for a few songs. Like his mother, Madisen began writing songs as a teenager, finding his footing as a musician while accompanying Ruth on these shows. “The style we play is different than what my mom was playing in the ‘70s, and I came to music later, so I see it differently,” says Madisen, who has since fallen into the role of chief songwriter. “Eventually, my mom gave me the reins and told me to write.” While Madisen constructs a song's general melody and lyrics, his mom helps with song development, bridges, and harmonies. The two have found major success with this formula, creating a unique, moving brand of Americana music.
 
All of this is why their performance this Thursday is a bit of a homecoming. This will be Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear’s first major headlining show in Kansas City, after a slew of achievements that include appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Later... With Jools Holland; opening slots for a broad scope of acts like The Pixies, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The Tallest Man on Earth; and prestigious spots at events like Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Fest. They’ll also be bringing a full band with them this time, with Kansas City musicians Tom Hudson on drums and Brent Kastler on bass, as well as Larissa Maestro on cello.
 
But this sudden onslaught of triumphs—which also include a European tour (and another on the way, with Sufjan Stevens) and the acclaimed release of their debut LP Skeleton Crew in May—is not without its challenges. “Your creative routine has to be altered,”  mentions Madisen. “We used to be able to sit in the dining room and bounce ideas off each other. I still write when we’re on the road, but it’s a different dynamic that you have to learn to juggle.”
 
On the flip side, the two have found that success has great rewards. “The whole thing is the people,” says Madisen. “It’s a very personable career that really revolves around human interaction, and the energy of a room. All of these different people we get to meet have different stories.” Stories, perhaps, that will find their way into the duo’s music one day.
 
Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear will be playing at  Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland with special guests Luluc, an Australian folk duo, on Thursday night. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
 
 
--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is the editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 
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August 19, 2015
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Several KC-area bands will be releasing tracks or albums this week:
 
Bad Wheels / Bad Wheels (EP)
 
 
This heavy-riffin’ four-piece rock collective is releasing its debut self-titled EP tomorrow (Tuesday) through Bandcamp; you can download the 6-track album, or purchase a limited-run cassette with a download card. You can also pick up a cassette and hear some of these tunes on Saturday at Harling’s Upstairs, where the group will be performing with StrawBilly.
 
 
Shades of Jade / “That One”
 
 
Shades of Jade will be releasing a single from their forthcoming album Fingerprinted Memories: Part II Sketches of the Heart this Thursday. That evening, the eclectic jazz group will take the stage at The Blue Room. The band will also be talking with Mark Manning on Wednesday Midday Medley this week, on 90.1 FM KKFI at 10:30 a.m. Preorder the track on iTunes. Facebook event page. #thatone
 
 
HMPH! / Headrush
 
 
On Friday night, math rock duo HMPH! will be celebrating the release of its debut full-length album Headrush on Haymaker Records. The band will have vinyl copies for sale that evening at Harling’s Upstairs. Rhunes and Arc Flash will also play. Facebook event page.
 

Radkey / Dark Black Makeup
 
 
The wait for Radkey’s long-awaited debut LP, Dark Black Makeup (Little Man Records) will also end Friday. The boys kick off a 2-week European tour in Belgium on Thursday, but their next appearance in the area will be September 25 at The Bottleneck. The album is now available to stream via Spin. Preorder the album here.
 

 
 
Danielle Nicole Band is the project of former Trampled Under Foot singer/bassist Danielle Nicole Schnebelen. The group released its debut self-titled EP earlier this year, and will release Wolf Den this Saturday at Knuckleheads Saloon. Grand Marquis will open. Preorder Wolf Den here. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
 
Saturday will also mark the release of Radiant Man on UniGlobe Records. A Crooked Mile will be playing at recordBar that evening with Kristie Stremel’s Pet Project and Carswell & Hope. They will also be featured on Wednesday Midday Medley this week, at 11:00 a.m.
 
 

--Michelle Bacon 

August 17, 2015
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Kansas City-based record label High Dive Records announced the signing of psych rockers The Conquerors earlier this week, adding to an impressive roster of artists that also includes Bummer and Rev Gusto, who have both recently released albums.
 
In celebration of the announcement, High Dive has released two new songs from The Conquerors, “I Don’t Know” and “I See You.” Recorded at Element Studios by guitarist Vincent Lawhon and mixed/mastered by Joel Nanos, the tracks put the psych pop group’s finest attributes on display. From a swath of percussive accents to shimmering guitar tones bathed in warm vocal layers, these songs take the listener on a euphoric, transcendental journey.
 
The Conquerors also plan to release a 7” single later this fall with two more new tracks, “You Must Be Dreaming” and “Maybe Someday.”
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
 

Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.

 

 

August 17, 2015
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Congrats to our July Artist of the Month, John Keck! Keck—who partially recorded his debut album The Jack Moon Sessions at the famed Sun Studios—depicts his personal experience in thoughtful ways, with an Americana flair. His music evokes Ozark traditions and southern rock, with a visceral emotional tinge. Read more about Keck in our Q&A.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
 
Keck: I think my music is very personal, and hopefully because of that people who listen to the lyrics can find something that speaks to them, or at the minimum they can see the image I'm trying to create, the story I'm conveying.
 
The Deli: Give me some background on your musical career. How long have you been playing music? What made you decide to become a songwriter?
 
Keck: I started playing in front of people in 2008 at open mics, and started booking shows regularly in 2010, so just a short time compared to my friends. I have a lot of catch-up to do. I found songwriting to be a therapy for dealing with my emotions, I guess it’s a bit of an escape too. In 2008 I ended a marriage of 14 years and found myself feeling very raw and exposed to life in a new way. I also didn't have anyone to fight with anymore and so I guess I started fighting with myself. To me,  writing a song is a fight with yourself; it’s an argument between your fear of letting other people know how you feel and the desire to be honest in a public way.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
 
KeckMy relationships and encounters with people are my primary inspirations. I don’t write much about the way the trees make me feel or something like that… It seems that even when I try to write about someone other than me, my personal experiences come out in my lyrics, so I don't really try to fight that anymore and just accept that I can’t be neutral to what I observe. I would like to be better about my work ethic and writing process, to be more diligent. I don't feel like I spend enough time on it. But I guess I don't really like to think of what I'm doing in comparison to anyone else, even my idols. So I don't keep regular hours, like some people I know, I let it come to me. Sometimes it's in waves, sometimes there are long dry spells. I try to record every thought I have, even when I know it’s bad in the moment. If I think it is good, I usually remember it and can come back to it. Usually it’s in the morning and makes me late for wherever I'm going. I'm always late, I apologize to everyone, maybe I was writing a song about you.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
 
Keck: Being played on the radio is surreal to me. The radio was so important growing up. I don't think people can appreciate it now. With access to the world’s known recordings on our phones, but as a kid before tapes even, anyway... it means everything to me. I think about it in terms of immortality. Those frequencies are traveling in the universe farther than I can conceive. How do you top that? I also played at the Troubadour in London, which was unreal. It’s the first place that Dylan played when he got to England (supposedly), and everyone else that you can imagine. I recorded my parts of my album at Sun Studios in Memphis, so that was kind of too good to think about—the same room Johnny Cash stood in (I sat). The radio wouldn't have happened if the album wasn't made. Honestly, every time someone tells me they like one of my songs I feel like I've accomplished something.
 
The Deli: Tell us about your debut album, The Jack Moon Sessions at Sun Studios and Chappy Roads. What can we expect?
 
Keck: I do have a debut album called The Jack Moon Sessions at Sun Studios and Chappy Roads. For the future, I've been writing and writing and have started working with other people to create a new album. I’m going to call it “Photo Booth,” and the songs that will be on it are written with a particular image in mind… does that make it a concept album? That title has many meanings to me, but an easily accessible idea is that I think of my songs like photographs that capture a moment with a certain light, like a black and white photograph. The album cover will explain more.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Keck: It’s become my passion. I try to go to as many shows as I can. Sometimes I feel like a stalker. Music is my religion, so attending services regularly at our local sanctuaries is critical to enlightenment.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
 
Keck: I don't typically have favorites of anything, but I have to have a good goddamn reason to miss a Dynamite Defense show, if you hear and see Chris Tady play the guitar you'll understand why. Also their songs have such a classic feel to them you really don't know what decade they were written in, I like that a lot. Of course Scott Hrabko, I could listen to his music over and over again. The Silver Maggies and Potters Field: I go home after their shows and wish I could play, sing, and, write songs like them. The Philistines I think have a unique sound too, with so much intensity and drive, they have me hooked. I’m inspired by all of these groups and so many more, but I’ll blush if they read this and then we have to talk about it later. I don’t think Tady goes on the line, so we are safe there. Non-local? I've really gotten into Houndmouth in the last few weeks, both albums are strong in my opinion, I may have already burned myself out on them actually, but I have enjoyed our brief affair.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Keck: I guess I should be better about dreaming big... I honestly feel like I'm living a fantasy right now, so each new thing is its own dream. I played Boulevardia last month; that was something I never considered possible before getting asked to do it. Last Saturday, I was at a dinner party with some truly talented people that I was in awe of; they took turns playing my guitar and singing their songs. We were up all night enjoying the moment. That seems like a fantasy now. But like every other person who’s ever scribbled a tune down, I would be on cloud nine opening for Neil Young, or Willie Nelson, or Scott Hrabko.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Keck: Dylan, Young, Keith Richards, John Lennon (in no particular order). I think valid arguments could be made for so many others and certainly the people that influenced those four, but just shooting from the hip, these guys created a profound impact in the culture as receivers with a true talent, then as focal points of sound that came through them and out to all of us, in ways that we don’t even know about. Blah blah, lists.
 
The Deli: What goals do you have for 2015, and beyond?
 
Keck: I plan to tour this fall, a small one of the Midwest. I’ve never really done an extended journey for more than one night, and I think that’s my next step in evolving as a performing artist. Record and release the new album. Create a band. Play as many shows as “they” will let me.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
 
Keck: Everything I’m up to is on http://www.johnlkeck.com, including videos and streaming music.
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Keck: Listen to whatever you want to, don’t let anyone tell you a piece of music is bad or good, if it speaks to you, then it is good to you. I hear people say all the time, “that’s too poppy” or “I don’t like country,” blah blah blah, If you limit yourself to a certain taste, you create a boundary that prohibits your universe from expanding and then it’s expanding without you.
 
You can catch Keck tomorrow night at Davey’s Uptown at 9 pm. He’ll be sharing the stage with fellow songwriters Cody Wyoming and Nathan Corsi. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.
 

 

August 05, 2015
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Musicians in The Deli World (i.e. the 12 local US scenes we cover - list here),

Once again, The Deli will give some emerging bands and artists the opportunity to play at one of its CMJ 2015 Music Marathon showcases.

This year we have booked a bunch of shows in the Lower East Side (Pianos on Friday night and Rockwood on Wednesday!) and Williamsburg (The Living Room on Saturday and Muchmore's on Thursday!), and - as usual - we'll have several stages for different musical genres.

We are looking to book 3 or more artists for these shows through this submissions system.

To be considered, all you need to do is to apply HERE - good luck!

Submission deadline: August 15, 2015.

The Deli's Staff
thedelimagazine.com

August 05, 2015
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