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Drowned in Sound: Real Estate - Atlas
Drowned in Sound: Baths - Obsidian


January 2014
Shy Boys
"Shy Boys
"
mp3
Shy Boys continue to bridge the gap between the basement and the stage with the release of their debut, self-titled LP. With efficiency and restrained flourish the boys have spun off 10 pop yarns, many of which are apt to linger long past their modest 24-minute duration. While the bulk of the earworms are front-loaded the album doesn’t flag nor does it deviate in its trajectory. The consistency of this record demonstrates that the Shy Boys know their strengths and are not ashamed to stick with them.
 
Such reliability is probably why Shy Boyscomposed of the brothers Collin and Kyle Rausch and friend Konnor Ervin, have enjoyed a recent burst in popularity. In short order they’ve managed to endear themselves to a variety of local bands and fans, the label High Dive Records, and assorted music journalism outlets. It’s no wonder they recently won The Pitch award for Best Band Everyone Can Agree OnThey’re appeal is almost egalitarian. Of course it doesn’t hurt to be backed by Solid Gold, the same talent agency that promotes the likes of Dirty Beaches, The Dodos, and The Sea And Cake.
 
Call it playing it safe, but what Shy Boys lack in boundary-pushing they make up for in general likeability. This record can easily play in the background, comfortably command the car stereo, or be the gentle panacea for your private boi slash gurl bedroom troubles; odds are the record will fit most settings without much abrasion. That’s the idea. Kudos given.
 
Much of the album’s warm roughness is owed to its simple and straightforward nature as well as the inherent qualities found by recording live to tape. For this engineering feat the nod is given to Mike Nolte of Westend Recording, a studio known for their dedicated use of the mediumSure, the reverb is cranked and the vocals can be muddied into ambiguity, but those cool, moody hooks are enough to keep the record spinning on repeat.
 
--Andrew Erdrich

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Album review: Claire and the Crowded Stage - Technicolor (EP)

Album review: Claire and the Crowded Stage - Technicolor (EP)

Technicolor opens with the quirky and cleverly written “Tower of Babel,” which sets an intriguing backdrop for the EP. And two things are immediately made clear about Claire and the Crowded Stage. First, the band’s handler, Claire Adams, does not need a crowded stage to capture an audience’s attention—her voice alone will do the job. And, second, nothing about this band is superficial. Its music is a unique combination of raw emotion and refined sound. The nine-piece, coupled with Adams’s knack for songwriting and compelling vocals, radiates with talent and versatility.  

Adams’ vocals haunt the heart-wrenching “Tower of Babel” [and “Tower of Babel (minimal mix)”] as she sings: “I never lost you / You were never mine.” The strong piano, clarinet, and accordion parts make the ballad memorable and unique. The album’s title track, “Technicolor,” is perhaps the most danceable track on the EP. It carries a rolling-‘20s-esque feel—breaking out into the jitterbug certainly wouldn’t be inappropriate. “Songbird” starts slow and instrumental with an exotic sound unlike any other on the EP. About halfway through the track, however, the tempo, chords and mood change completely and the song becomes very upbeat. It’s another example of the group’s ambidextrous abilities.

Claire and the Crowded Stage is full of enduring talent that will only get better with time. This isn’t just a group of musician friends who are aimlessly plucking away on guitars or noodling around on a piano. Their sound is purposeful and polished. They weren’t thrown together by accident; this crowd was brought about to give local music a good name.
 
Technicolor, the group’s second EP, was released January 5. Claire and her crowded stage comprises: Claire Adams (vocals, ukulele and guitar), Katelyn Boone (bass and keys), Pete Lawless (accordion and saxaphone), Meredith McGrade (electric guitar), Katy Guillen (electric guitar), Stephanie Williams (drums), Jerod Rivers (drums), Brent Jamison (keys) and Teri Quinn (clarinet and guitar). As is par for the course of being a musician in Kansas City, several of these band members can be found hopscotching from lineup to lineup and venue to venue across the city. 
 
You'll be able to listen to Claire and the Crowded Stage on 90.1 KKFI next Wednesday, March 27 at 11:15 a.m. Members will be performing live on Mark Manning's weekly show, Wednesday MidDay Medley. The group will next be crowding the Coda stage on Friday, March 29 with Rev Gusto. Facebook event page here.
 
Here's a video from the title track, "Technicolor":
 
 
 
--Alex Peak
 

Alex Peak is a magazine designer by day and a music listener by night. To her, stumbling across great new music is even better than finding a $10 bill floating around in the laundry.

 

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