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Weights and Measures Soundlab

Album review: Federation of Horsepower - Hermanos de Sangre (EP)

I don't quite get the connection between authentic Spanish themes and Classic American Rock ‘n Roll, but it doesn't seem to matter on Hermanos de Sangre, the newest release from Federation of Horsepower.
These riffs are muy caliente! Hermanos de Sangre—which is Spanish for blood brothers—is a wonderful mix of straight ahead rock ‘n roll with a Mexican twist. Like a churro dipped in bourbon. With titles like “The Tijuana Upholstery Job” and “Fried Chicken for Breakfast,” one can infer that this tongue-in-cheek approach is backed up by serious pounding rock and Spanish guitar runs. Hermanos would be a wonderful soundtrack to From Dusk Till Dawn.
The four-song EP starts with an extremely traditional Spanish salsa of sorts in “De Estas Manos...” I can only assume this tune is a foreshadowing of the next three songs, in which FoHP rips and tears its way from the Midwest, to the deep south, all the way to Tijuana. As frontman Gregg Todt yells so perfectly, “Goin’ to Tijuana / gonna have myself a ball!”
One might even hear the EP as an homage to KC's very own little Mexico on Southwest Blvd. “The Queen of Rosedale” refers to a long-legged, teardrop-tattooed, dark-eyed lady cruising the Boulevard. Maybe there's a vixen of the Boulevard ruling the roost? Whoever they are referring to, it's obvious that there's a reason she’s the queen. Perhaps this queen is Monique Danielle, who provides additional vocals on this track?
Regardless, Federation of Horsepower sure has rolled itself a fatty burrito filled with tasty licks and savory salsas. 
Hermanos de Sangre was released this week and was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights and Measures Soundlab. Federation of Horsepower is heading on a mini-tour this weekend to St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville, but you can catch them in KC again on June 21 at Davey’s Uptown.
--Josh Simcosky

Josh is a KC native that loves anything meat- or tube-driven related. He also plays guitar for Leering Heathens and Sharp Weapons. 


Free Counters

Behind the Scenes with The Latenight Callers

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists playing the MidCoast Takeover fundraiser shows, sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which for this reviewer typically equates to a dog on each side and blanket after blanket piled upon my bed. Instead, I’m braving the brisk winter air of Midtown to talk with a band whose name is acutely contradictory to my being awake.
If you don’t know them, you have to wonder what The Latenight Callers are really like, especially during the early morning hours (relatively speaking). You also might be wondering what the band’s new recording sounds like. To provide a quick perspective: the four members (Ms. Ellen [O’Hayer] was unavailable for comment that day) were awake and pleasant, and the upcoming LP leaves nothing to be desired for this skyrocketing Kansas City group.
I met with Ms. Julie, Mr. Mac, Mr. Nemeth, and Mr. Combs at Weights and Measures Soundlab, where they’ve been tracking with veteran engineer (and musician) Duane Trower (currently of Olivetti Letter; formerly of Season To Risk, Doris Henson, Overstep).
“The character of Duane’s gear helps us portray the character of the band, in the essence that everything is out of another time,” said baritone guitarist Krysztof Nemeth. Trower boasts an array of obscure, vintage gear, as well as equipment he’s built himself, which the band believes help keep its sound as unique as possible.
Unlike the band’s previous two EP recordings (The Latenight Callers and Easy Virtues). the full-length will be mixed by Trower (who mastered Easy Virtues) instead of recorded by Nemeth. Keyboardist/electronic sound guru Nick Combs mentioned that Trower seemed to be the perfect fit for the band’s upcoming album. “We needed someone that wouldn’t make us sound precious. With Duane’s own experience as a musician, we knew he’d give us the heftier sound we’ve been looking for.” Recording in a studio has given the band the freedom to explore its music, most of which will be new and some of which will be re-recorded from the first EP.
The new full-length, still untitled, seems to be more of a collaborative effort than previous recordings, with tracks built by each individual member to serve each song. The Callers’ first EP was written, produced, and performed by Nemeth and frontwoman Julie Berndsen, before the other three members were added to the mix. After 3 years, the band has gained a collective maturity and a strong foothold in the local scene, and the new tracks show that each member knows what element to bring to write a song that is uniquely The Latenight Callers.
Berndsen noted, “Everyone has the goal of creating a cohesive song, but we had to really think about… does each piece complement the particular song?” Berndsen and O’Hayer recorded their vocals in a session after each instrument had been laid down, which, according to the group, enhanced the emotive aspects of each track.
“With recording, we have to step back from our individual roles and look at it from a distance to gain perspective of what our audience will recognize and respond viscerally to,” said Nemeth. Combs added, “Instead of just one person’s vision, it’s all five of us. We’re listening to the arrangements and orchestration instead of just thinking about ‘my part.’”
With plans to release this album in the spring and big shows in the works, 2013 promises to be another tremendous year for The Latenight Callers. Stay tuned.
Editor’s note: Bassist Gavin Mac was available for comment, but settled upon curling up in the studio’s comfortable leather couch and settled in for a long winter’s nap. Left-handed bass players are prone to hibernation at this and all other times of year.
The Latenight Callers will be performing some of the songs from its upcoming album this Friday, February 1, at Czar Bar, for the second MidCoast Takeover fundraiser show. The Callers will headline the show, playing at 12:00 a.m. after Jorge Arana Trio, Eyelit, and Tiny Horse. Tickets are available here. The band will also be performing at the MidCoast Takeover show at SXSW on Saturday, March 16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas.
Photos by Randy Pace. Please do not use without permission.
--Michelle Bacon



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