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Album review: Temp Tats - Ions

Temp Tats describe themselves as “somewhat spastic R&B.” I don’t think a better description of this sound could possibly be put into words. Their debut release, Ions, was released on December 14. In my own words, this album is confusing, poetic, psychedelic R&B. As soon as you get into the groove of any given track, it spins you around leaving you to wonder how you got there. You just sit and groove and try to find the root of the song you were just so into. WHOA. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
 
The opening track to Ions is “Laser Lites.” Luke Waye’s sweet and smooth spirals are our anchor as we swoon over Eric Schuman’s vocals. “In the most perfect worst way” is the lyric that takes us out of the track over Chris Paul’s psychedelic guitar. Chris nails this sound, not overpowering. It sucks you in and leaves you tipsy. This track, while very good and currently stuck in my head, is not indicative of Ions.
 
The most interesting track, in my humble fan’s opinion, is “Cinnamon Spices.” This track was recorded by the locally famed Jorge Arana. If there is a genre for this sound, he might be the king of it. The track opens gently: Joel Schuman tickles the keys, you prepare for some sweet R&B. Luke layers cymbals underneath. Chris drops out and gives Eric some space for his smooth stylings. Eric takes you away with one poetic, run-on, beatnik sentences that you completely agree with. About halfway through the track, closing the second verse, something happens that changes everything. Wait for it, “no. NO. NO. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!” Eric lets out a metal wail. What? And that introduces the second half of this track that just turns into a guitar and keyboard explosion. It left me dazed, wobbly, and out of control.
 
My favorite track on Ions is “Slackjaw.” Let me be honest here, because it’s sexy and it makes me feel things. The fusion of every rule they break is so good. I’m exhausted listening to Luke. This track is nothing without his intensity. Joel’s keys seem to be placed just perfectly, they mellow out the magic chaos Luke and Chris are creating. The part that makes me feel things, Eric’s tenor and his lyrics on this track. His I-don’t-care, but-my-heart-is-broken, but “I am counting down the days until the next jailbreak” confidence. Gets me.
 
Fun Fact about Temp Tats: two of the members—Luke Waye and Eric Schuman—were the founding fathers of a little band called Ambulants. Self-described as grunge/jazz, they shared a few shows and a split 7” with the Jorge Arana Trio. That sound still resonates a bit, breaking rules and leaving me a little shaky, but in a much better way. Well done. I cannot wait to catch this party live. I’ll double up on my Ritalin dose when I get home.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 

Your next chance to see Temp Tats will be this Saturday at Davey’s Uptown. They’ll be playing with a host of other KC groups in support of Bernie Sanders. The BERNing Man KC rally starts at 4 pm, with $10 suggested donation going toward Sanders’ campaign fund. Facebook event page. 

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