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jess barrett

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. 

Album review: Rev Gusto - Burnt Out Friends

“Goodnight Laura. It’s nice to know ya. But it’s better if I just fade away. So goodnight Laura. Know I adore ya. But, you’ll never be happy if I stay.” This lyric pierces my heart a bit. While this sad, easy let-down story is charming and catchy, I do want Jerry Frederick to stay. I really do. This lyric from “Goodnight Laura” is just some of the simple brilliance found on Burnt Out Friends, the debut full-length from the very original and talented Kansas City based Rev Gusto.
 
Burnt Out Friends, the 10-track record, released July 28 on High Dive Records, is on heavy rotation in my house. The super rad red cassette is in even heavier rotation in my car. I have seen them countless times. Danced like a crazy person until my legs no longer worked. Forced everyone I know to listen and join in. You could call me a fan.
 
This album is lighthearted and lyrically brilliant. We should expect no less from the gifted mind behind the project: Jerry Frederick. “We wanted to capture a raw sound with the album, so we recorded the entire LP live in studio to do so,” he explains. He might know what he is doing. He studied in England under Ray Davies of The Kinks. Spoiler: you can hear that in this album—every track. Jerry’s vocals are almost Britpop. Imagine early Beach Boys had a baby with The Kinks and Spoon and raised it in a dark, sarcastic, romantic comedy. Burnt Out Friends is full of simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic.
 
The brilliant musicians who can be heard on this album are Quinn Hernandez (drums), Shaun Crowley (guitar and trumpet), Peter Beatty (guitar and keys), Sam Frederick (bass) and of course, Jerry Frederick on guitar and vocals. Fun fact about Rev Gusto: after a restaff, they are now a three-piece. This includes Sam, still on bass, and Matt Wargin on drums. I heard this rumor but have not taken in a live show with the new lineup yet. “I loved playing with the dudes from the old lineup, but a stripped-down sound lets me get in touch with my song’s pop roots; more of a focus on vocals and harmonies,” was Jerry’s response when I quizzed him about the shake-up.
 
Burnt out Friends opens with “The Boys Are at It Again,” a great pick for an opening track. It’s light, sugary, and catchy. Jerry’s vocals and Shaun Crowley’s guitar with a perfect salty surf sound makes you dance like an awkward Peanuts’ character. My favorite track on the record is “Blood in a Bag.” This song about a crush is lyrically like none I’ve ever heard. In true Jerry fashion, it tells an obscure story of a boy, crushing on a girl while he has his blood drawn. Awkward, simple, like it were straight out of a dark indie romantic comedy. “Surf City/Mind in a Cage” is the most interesting on the album. The two short songs smashed together are a perfect combination. The first of the two are just as you imagine. The title is a spoiler. The second feels like a dance-it-out garage pop anthem. I put this track on in my living room, listen to Shaun play me that salty surf sound, jump around (usually after too many beers) and scream, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go,” along with Jerry.  
 
This pristine, simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic is such an unlikely sound to come out of Kansas City. I am full on Thanksgiving turkey thankful for it. And if you get the opportunity catch a show, do it.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 
 

You can check out the new Rev Gusto lineup at Revolution Records next First Friday—they’ll be playing therewith Black Stacey and Coyote. Show starts at 7 pm. Facebook event page. Or if you’re in Warrensburg on Saturday, they’ll be at The Bay.  

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