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Mat Shoare

Album review: Mat Shoare - Mirror Music no. 1

As the title suggests, Mat Shoare’s latest release, Mirror Music no. 1, is about reflection. “The songs are all linked to my last full-length Right as Rain, and draw on the same themes: abandonment, bitterness, and repressed anger,” he states. While Shoare’s description may sound like a recipe for a suicidal symphony, most of the music on the four-song EP is surprisingly upbeat and even approaching optimistic. This may be because Shoare says he is closing the book on this period of songwriting, and has plenty of new, less miserable topics to begin sharing.
 
The EP opens with “I-Yi-Yi,” a mellow yet poppy tune with a solid groove. I-yi-yi is a clever play on aye-yi-yi, the outdated term used to express sadness, hopelessness, anger, or frustration (you may have heard your grandmother say this when you were a kid). The song deals with frustration over things not going as planned, yet the realization that the circumstances could be worse. It’s about waiting and yearning, yet understanding the need for patience. It’s a commentary on life as most of us know it. “It’s not going better, but it’s not going worse / It’s not going good, but it’s not going bad.” Through reflection, Shoare decides to make the best of things, ending the song singing “I-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi” in a cheery, so-be-it kind of way. We could all stand to look at life like this.
 
“One of My Songs,” the second track, is probably the most listener-friendly. It is about breaking up with a girl, and is both a jab at the woman (or women) as well as possibly a bit of self-deprecation from Shoare. “Now you’re just a girl in one of my songs / Please sing along if you’ve heard this one before.” As with “I-Yi-Yi,” this potentially blue topic is in no way a ballad. Instead it is almost a doo-wop song, complete with Beatles-esque background vocals and a clap track. Shoare shows off his musical talents by playing all of the instruments on the recording. “All About You” is similarly upbeat, yet with a totally different sound. It starts with a drumbeat that could be mistaken for Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” and is layered with jazz chords and a driving bass.
 
The only gloomy song is the fourth and final cut, “Real Woman.” Truly lo-fi, it is simply Shoare playing an acoustic guitar while crooning about a relationship lost. Sticking with the theme of the record, he reflects and realizes his mistakes—and what traits constitute a good (or bad) companion. “If I had known how much you would hurt me / I would have been with a real woman.” Despite being barely over a minute long, “Real Woman” is a perfect goodbye. It touches on remorse, but focuses on the resolve to move on to better things.
 
Like life, Mirror Music no. 1 isn’t perfect, but perhaps Shoare and his band (Evan Ashby on guitar, Ross Brown on bass, and Ryan Carr on drums) intended it that way. There is a constant yin-yang, showing how opposites can be complementary. It’s dark and light, sad and happy, and ultimately gives listeners something that is strangely inspiring, given the subject matter. It’s an ending to one place in Shoare’s life, and a peek at happier things to come.
 
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.
 
 

Shoare will be touring in support of the album starting tonight in Columbia at Café Berlin. Facebook event page. You can also check out his website for other upcoming dates at matshoare.com.   

The Deli KC's Best of 2015

Michelle Bacon, editor
 
Albums:
You probably won’t get a chance to see Madisen and Ruth Ward perform in a small room anytime soon, but if you’ve had the privilege to do so, you know how special it is. Sharp songwriting accompanies the intimacy, warmth, and the sheer velocity of their voices, all of which shine on the duo’s debut LP with Glassnote Records.
 
2. The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
Since its acclaimed LP Country Singles came out in 2013, fans have been chomping at the bit for another collection of songs from The Grisly Hand. Flesh & Gold showcases a band that is fully realizing its natural chemistry—the compositions reach new heights on this album, with musicians that play to their strengths, in all the right places.
 
3. Bloodbirds - MXVIII
Aggressive, dark, psychedelic sounds make up the aural landscape of Bloodbirds’ latest effort, an impressive full-length from an authoritative power trio. These songs are intense and emotional, but laden with enough hooks and punch to keep the listener yearning for more.
 
4. Mat Shoare - Right As Rain
Whether he’s delivering a subtle lyric over a somnolent keyboard tone or an angsty vitriol over an edgy guitar riff, Mat Shoare is pulling us into his world with each track on Right As Rain. Shoare has a knack for creating classic pop hooks, finding instrumentation that suits each mood, and pulling off introspective lyrics with an unmistakable sincerity.
 
5. Major Games - Major Games
Major Games’ self-titled release is one of the richest and most sonically dense offerings of 2015. It soars above the conventions of shoegaze, psychedelic, and noise rock, with sweeping dynamic shifts and intriguing swells of sound.
 
6. HMPH! - Headrush
The debut LP from HMPH! is one of the most masterful examples of musicianship on any KC release in recent history. This instrumental math rock/jazz fusion album is built on angular guitar riffs and rhythmic countermelodies from two musicians who know their craft and challenge it in an interesting, entertaining set of songs.
 
7. Thunderclaps - Cookin Up A Good Time (EP)
This guitar-and-drums duo stands out with 3 short tracks that remind us of the classic backbone of rock ‘n roll with a modern vigor. Thunderclaps’ debut EP is well worth a mere 9 minutes of your time; and if you aren’t shaking your hips by the end of it, you weren’t paying enough attention.
 
8. Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
Mikal Shapiro is no stranger to the KC music scene, having lent her talents to several projects, but The Musical is her first full-length in 5 years. With her core band of musical masterminds, Shapiro has assembled one of the year’s strongest efforts. She blends pop, jazz, folk, and blues to create something far more hip.
 
9. Berwanger - Demonios (EP)
Josh Berwanger knows how to write a great pop gem, and make it rock. With elements of power pop, glam rock, psych, and sugary ‘60s pop, there’s something in a Berwanger song that can appeal to anybody. His latest release, on High Dive Records, will take you on an astral journey while you’re simultaneously banging your head.
 
10. She’s A Keeper - Westside Royal (EP)
Westside Royal signifies a fresh new musical direction for She’s A Keeper, a band that has grown into its sound in the best possible way. This 5-track EP is full of infectious grooves coupled with warm vocal melodies, making for a solid indie pop record.
 
Singles:
1. Admiral of the Red - “Footbeats” (1.5.15)
2. The Conquerors - “I Don’t Know” (8.11.15 High Dive Records)
3. Claire and the Classical Revolution - “Enough” (12.12.15)
4. Bonzo Madrid - “Balance” (8.10.15)
5. Spirit is the Spirit - “Televangelist” (4.13.15 The Record Machine)
6. The Uncouth - “KC United” (5.15.15 Too Much Rock)
7. Yes You Are - “World Without End” (6.1.15)
8. Katy Guillen and the Girls - “If You Were Gone” (11/24/15)
9. Mat Shoare - “One of My Songs” (11.6.15)
10. The Good Hearts - “Bad Production” (12.8.15)  
 
Shows:
3. Glen Hansard at Uptown Theater, 11.17.15
4. Diane Coffee and Of Montreal at recordBar, 10.27.15
5. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear at recordBar, 12.22.15
6. Heartless Bastards and Craig Finn at recordBar, 7.1.15
8. Jason Isbell and Rayland Baxter at Uptown Theater, 12.9.15
10. Shiner and The String and Return at recordBar, 7.17.15
 
Moments:
Unless you have a heart condition or are prone to seizures, you should experience Peelander-Z at least once. It is less recommended to go on stage with them and try to play their bass when they just want you to do calisthenics.
 
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear at Good Danny’s in Austin, TX, 3.18.15
It turns out that the best respite from the chaos of SXSW was a beautiful midday serenade in a comfy, air-conditioned house. Here, a lucky roomful of 15-20 people got a chance to see the Wards tape their Daytrotter session.
 
Spoon at The Continental Club in Austin, TX, 3.22.15
Alejandro Escovedo is a pioneer of Austin’s music scene, and held his last post-SXSW party, with Spoon as the secret guest. Seeing one of my favorite bands in a 300-cap room with dozens of other influential Austin musicians and natives was a special treat.
 
GAV7D, Katy Guillen and the Girls, and Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds at recordBar, 10.23.15
Late October and early November were arguably the most stressful months in Kansas City history. Game 6 of the ALCS was another nail-biter, plagued by a rain delay. Meanwhile, Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds opened up a show at recordBar, with a crowd that was waiting on pins and needles to celebrate, erupting in a Royal triumph at the last few notes of our set. The festivities continued with a red-hot set from Katy Guillen and the Girls, and a delightful denouement from Johnny Hamil’s GAV7D project.
 
The Philistines at Maria’s Taco Xpress in Austin, TX, 3.21.15
More famously known as the day Bill Murray saw my band play and offered me a bite of his food.
 
Zach Hodson (Dolls on Fire)
 
My 10 favorite Kansas City or ties-to-Kansas-City recordings of 2015(in no particular ranking or order):
The Electric Lungs - Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made
The Electric Lungs’ sophomore full-length does not disappoint. Complete with a bombastic rhythm section, emphatic vocal performances, and just the right amount of synthy icing, this pop rock/punk quartet continues to put out some of the best high-energy rock music in town these days.
 
The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
Whereas this album didn’t originally catch me near as much as their 2013 release Country Singles (which I consider to be one of my favorite KC releases of all time), Flesh & Gold falls more in the sneaky good category. The usual hallmarks of The Grisly Hand sound are certainly present throughout, but they continue to show a maturation and evolution of sound, allowing the sonic spectrum to freelance into other genres a bit more.  
 
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - Skeleton Crew
Yeah. It’s damn good, just a fantastic sonic experience from beginning to end. Everything is spot-on: the songs, the unique vocal stylings, the tasteful flares of accompanying instrumentation, the production value. Whereas roots music can often fall prey to overproduction, this breakthrough record from the Kansas City based son-mom duo shows the true power of knowing which levers to pull and which to leave the hell alone.
 
Christian Hankel - Silver (Music from the Noir Ballet)
No one can ever call out Christian Hankel for being unambitious. Over the years, he has treated Kansas City with over-the-top art projects while others stay slaves to what is trendy. Silver is just the latest example of this. Featuring a who’s who of Kansas City players, this soundtrack to a modern retelling of The Odyssey via an 8-piece jazz ensemble is a well-composed and dynamic slice of mid-20th century jazz dolled up with just enough modern influence.
 
The Bad Ideas - Leave Me Alone
And now for something completely different. Eleven scuzzy, socially-conscious, punk-as-fuck brain-beating tracks that somehow keep some identity from each other during the onslaught. This full-length tape captures the live energy for which The Bad Ideas have become known.
 
Sterling Witt - Satyagraha
Another Kansas City area artist with a strict devotion to the art above all else, Sterling Witt’s recent release is a thick and icky ride recorded by Steve Albini (and yes, it certainly sounds like it was). I’ve seen Sterling perform in just about every way possible over the years (and probably still have some baby powder, glitter, or a paper airplane laying around to prove it). This grungy batch of alternative tunes is certainly less folk than I remember him at times, but still has the same earworms, sharp songwriting, and sly lyric play that I’ve come to very much enjoy of his work.
 
The Hillbenders - Tommy: A Bluegrass Odyssey
Whereas the Hillbenders in general are not “from” Kansas City, this record has plenty of ties to our neck of the woods that make it applicable here. It is an ambitious thing. Take one of the most beloved rock operas of all time, a record laden with synthesizers, squealing guitars, and one of the most adventurous drummers in rock n’ roll history. Now, reproduce it with traditional bluegrass instruments. And, oh yeah, no drums and no keyboards.
Somehow, The Hillbenders not only pull it off, but really push the material beyond its original limits in many ways. By creatively channeling the constraints of their instrumentation into ridiculously well-put-together orchestrations, the listener is never found wanting for the missing elements. It is beautifully new and familiar all at the same time.
 
Sundiver - Caravelle and Discoverer
Proving that verdant noise rock is still very much alive and relevant, Sundiver dropped a fantastic duo of songs this year with Caravelle and Discoverer. Call it post-hardcore, call it shoegaze, call it even a bit math rock at times, the pair of songs repeatedly build and crash, powdering the listener with something equally galvanic and celestial. Dreamy, driving, provoking soundscapes.
 
The Sluts - The Sluts
The modern war against the bass guitar (or perhaps better said, against those that typically play the bass guitar [yeah, I said it. Deal with it, bass players]) continues with this Lawrence two-piece. The Sluts’ debut LP suffers not from the four-string exclusion. The guitars rumble with lush distortion, the drums pound, the vocals screech through the wooly mix. Just enough smart songwriting keeps this from being an 11-song one-trick pony. It is a ride worth taking time and time again.
 
Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
Jazz, blues, Americana, country, good old rock ‘n roll: it’s all here. Being Shapiro’s first full-length release since 2010, she really sheds some skin with this batch of gracefully arranged songs. Every effort is a new adventure, kept on the like tracks by her silky, often doubled and harmonized vocals. The all-star Core Four (amongst other guest musicians) utilized throughout elevates her material to a new place.
 
Brad Scott (The Clementines)
 
Albums:
1. The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
2. Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
3. Paper Buffalo - White on White (EP)
4. The AM Trio - As of Now
5. The Old No. 5s - Steam
 
Tracks:
1. The Grisly Hand - “Regina” (from Flesh & Gold)
2. Paper Buffalo - “The Archive” (from White on White)
3. Hembree - “Can't Run Forever”
4. Mikal Shapiro - “Daniel” (from The Musical)
5. The Old No. 5s - “Barn Party” (from Steam)
 
 
Albums, in no particular order:
The Electric Lungs - Don’t be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made
Definitely a punk rock album that brings me back to my high school years.  I wish I had this album to help me through those wonder years.
 
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - Skeleton Crew
This is such a warm album to listen to.  I always picture myself outside by a creek on a summer afternoon as I contemplate about life.  
 
Jessica Paige - Sweet Nothings
Imagine yourself laying down on a wooden floor of your living room with your significant other on a cool autumn morning.  It helps you make you appreciate every single bit of life, good and bad.
 
The Clementines - “The Journey Begins” (single)
The single is very raw and straight to the point. You can hear raw emotion and heart from a band that can tug at your heart.
 
This album definitely captures the energy of their live performance. I always blare it in my car, headbanging on my way to work.
 
From all of us at The Deli KC, thank you for your support in 2015, and here's to more great music in 2016!

 

Golden Sound Records presents 3rd annual Crossroads Summer Block Party

Golden Sound Records will be hosting its third annual Crossroads Summer Block Party on June 6, at 19th and Wyandotte in the Crossroads Art District for First Friday. This year promises to be its biggest yet, with eight bands, as well as food trucks, live art, craft beer makers, and much more.
 
If you haven’t heard of Golden Sound Records, it’s a Kansas City-based record label with a roster of talented local and regional bands—among them, The Empty Spaces, The Caves, and Baby Teardrops. But co-founder Jerad Tomasino doesn’t think of Golden Sound as a traditional record label.
“Golden Sound started as more of a collective,” he remarks. Tomasino, who co-fronted Everyday/Everynight (which, at the time included Mat Shoare and Evan Ashby), said that the idea for the label materialized around 2009. “As E/E was getting its engine running, we started to play around with how we would collectively release our music. We wanted to create an entity that could withstand more than a single person or band.”
 
Tomasino started the label along with Shoare and Ross Brown in 2010. Since its inception, Golden Sound has not only helped bands release albums—it has helped showcase many musicians to audiences that might not otherwise be exposed to them.
 
One of the best culminations of this exposure is with Golden Sound’s annual Block Party. In addition to eight of Kansas City’s best bands, the Block Party will include food trucks from Indios Carbonsitos, Wilma’s Real Good Food, Jazzy B’s, and Nani’s Kitchen, as well as offerings from several other sponsors. Brown mentions that this allows the collective to involve more of the community. “We can’t give you all the support of a regular record label and we aren’t experts at every aspect, but we can help in some way.”
 
“Our process is creation-oriented, and we bring in super creative people in to flesh it out with their offerings,” says Tomasino.
 
But without argument, music is the forefront of the annual Block Party. The lineup starts off with a swift kick in the teeth by Jorge Arana Trio at 6:30, followed by the sweet pop stylings of Rev Gusto and Mat Shoare. Katelyn Conroy’s solo indie project La Guerre follows, and power trio Loose Park and The ACBs will bring the rock ‘n roll. The night will be rounded out by the otherworldly sounds of Metatone and the atmospheric instrumental mutiny of Forrester.
 
For Tomasino, one of the highlights of the Block Party is being able to put the performers on a large, professional stage in the middle of the Crossroads during First Friday. “You know your band’s music is good quality and worth putting on a big stage,” he says.
 
Golden Sound begins its push for the Block Party this Sunday, June 1, when it will celebrate the release of See Through Dresses’ self-titled LP at Mills Record Company. This is the second stop on the Omaha band’s tour. Matthew Carroll and Sara Bertuldo, of See Through Dresses, were two of the first artists that the label approached outside of its core group. Golden Sound released an EP from their previous project Honey & Darling in 2010, and Bertuldo’s punk project Millions of Boys is also a label artist. “We just want to get behind a really special album and band on its way to whatever is next,” says Tomasino, who feels that Mills will be a great place to expose See Through Dresses to a KC audience. “Mills plays a vital role in the musical makeup around here. We’re doing the in-store there so that people—specifically those actively engaged with KC music—can step into an easy environment to meet these guys, hear their music, and that’s it.”
 
“We want to take away the barriers and create a relaxed, fun environment for people to experience some amazing music,” Tomasino concludes. And Golden Sound is a collective, a label, whatever you want to call it, that does just that—facilitating contact between artist and audience, and at once helping increase the reach of Kansas City’s musical landscape.
 
 
If you’re milling about First Friday next weekend, be sure to hit up the Block Party. It’s free! Facebook event page. For more info on the Block Party, check out crossroadsblockparty.com. And be sure to check out the See Through Dresses’ release party at Mills. Show starts at 6:00 pm. The Author and the Illustrator will also play. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
  
Michelle is editor of The Deli KC and is also a member of The Philistines, Drew Black & Dirty Electric, Dolls on Fire, and Lucky Graves. She’s a staff member of Midwest Music Foundation. She is getting tired of inserting all of these hyperlinks.
 
 
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Album review: Mat Shoare - Domestic Partnership

 
Golden Sound Records is on a string of great releases. They kicked off mid-summer with Party Line from The Empty Spaces, later put out Ross Brown’s sophomore release, the new Everyday/Everynight singles, and now Mat Shoare’s fourth album. Within the past year, Shoare has somehow found the time and inspiration to write Domestic Partnership. As frontman of The Empty Spaces and a visceral component of Everyday/Everynight, one wonders where Shoare found the creative muses to write this breathtaking album.
 
Taking a more somber tone than The Empty Spaces’ upbeat surf-rock, and a more earthly sound than the ambient Everyday/Everynight, Domestic Partnership is an album that is easy to grasp. The album is full of sad, sorry tales, and real-life happenings that everyone, at some point, will have or has experienced.
 
The recording quality seems low-end, but works insanely well with this album. The album sounds as if Shoare recorded it while sitting right next to you. Domestic Partnership’s liner notes state: “…recorded by Mat Shoare in multiple bedrooms, basements, and offices…” And that aspect is definitely felt throughout the album. As mentioned, it sounds as if Shoare could have been playing the song while in the same room as you. This hosts a brilliant emotional linkage to his songs; not unlike seeing him perform live. For these kinds of songs, you don’t want over-produced and completely flawless music—it’s straight and it’s real.
 
Shoare’s vocals embody a haunting undertone while remaining pleasantly familiar. It sounds like a voice you know, one that you are inclined to listen to. His vocal range is quite impressive as well. Varying from a low and daunting timbre, like in the opening track “Patterns in the Sand,” to a high-pitched screech (a characteristic of The Empty Spaces) found in the title track. Backing himself up with a plethora of “ooohs” adds depth to songs like “Patterns in the Sand,” among others.
 
This album is a no-holds-barred attack on the reality of life. Shoare’s lyrics come at you like a slap to the face or a kick in the shin. Shoare definitely does not sugar coat a single line for the listener. “We never get older, we only get sadder, we never get bolder, we only get madder” is a shining example from “Meadowlark.” His words hurt and are full of some sort of pain, but paralleling this pain is an organic sense of sympathy, from Shoare to you. Domestic Partnership sounds like two people sitting, talking, and listening to each other: a therapy session.
 
Shoare celebrated the release of Domestic Partnership at recordBar this past weekend. The official release of the album will be tomorrow, Tuesday, December 11. You can order the CD and preview a track at the Golden Sound Records’ link here.
 
 
--Steven Ervay
 
Steven is the intern of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli - Kansas City. He can't go to 21+ shows yet and that bums him out.  

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