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Album review: The Latenight Callers - Songs For Stolen Moments

(Photos by Todd Zimmer)

From the first time I watched the video for “The Tease,” I succumbed to the fact that I was a fan of The Latenight Callers. Their ability to blend classic sounds with contemporary styling and a fresh approach is exactly why they are a local favorite. No doubt that TLNC has a very high ceiling. Those unfamiliar with the band will love their unique sound. They have a swanky blend of early Portishead, Garbage, and Lana Del Rey, but with an attitude that is genuinely their own.
I listened to Songs For Stolen Moments—the band’s first full LP—three times prior to initiating this review. Like a good movie, this record sucks you in and gives you a departure from the world for 53 minutes. The drum machine programming and keyboard work by Nick Combs is standout; the musicianship and vocal performances overall are top-shelf.
Songs For Stolen Moments starts off with “In Cold Blood,” which leads me to expect Humphrey Bogart stepping into a smoky bar with TLNC on stage. Classy and timeless come to mind. The journey steps to “Gypsy Moll,” which has a slight Garbage-meets-Ray Manzarek sound. The guitars are ripe with feel and the solo is perfectly suited to the song. Julie Berndsen’s voice is seducing, with or without the bullhorn effect.
The third track, “Straightrazor,” could be the next James Bond theme song. Krysztof Nemeth’s baritone guitar work on this track is catchy while maintaining a sultry feel.
Since it was the TLNC first song I heard, I’m partial to “The Tease.” The song represents the hit potential of this band. Its hypnotic nature is a consistent aspect throughout the record—it really does compel you to listen completely. The flow into “Red Bricks, White Ghosts” feels natural. “Thunderbolt” takes it up a notch, with a little nastier and dirtier sound. I appreciate how the album evolves that way.
I’m a fan of any production that uses sound effects and short titles on its albums, so “Interlude” into “Sleepless” is a perfect story to tell the listener. “Sleepless” ended up being my favorite song on the album. It has everything that you expect of TLNC’s sound. Gavin Mac’s bass line is catchy, the melody line is memorable, and Bernsden’s voice sounds amazing. “Tourniquets,” with its wild syncopation, was a fun track.
The album winds down with the cool marimba sounds and great arpeggio guitar of “The Big Sleep,” a nearly seven-minute song. It is followed by “Odessa,” another great song with nice effects and sonic landscape, which proved to be my second favorite track. Lastly, they lead us to the door of that swanky bar and bid us good night with the last cut, “Epilogue.” Overall, the production and song craftsmanship is blissful and intriguing.
Editor’s note: Songs For Stolen Moments was mixed and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights and Measures Soundlab in Kansas City. Video for “The Tease” was produced and directed by Anthony Ladesich. The version of the song for the video was on the band’s debut EP, most of which was re-recorded for this new LP.
Be sure to don your finest suit or gown and head to recordBar this Saturday, June 8, where The Latenight Callers are hosting a special release party for Songs For Stolen Moments. Thick and the Foolish and In Back Of A Black Car will also perform. Show starts at 10:00. Facebook event page.

--William Saunders 


William is a local record producer, singer/songwriter, and guitarist/singer for The Walltalkers. He is also the head monkey at Saunders Street Records and still likes movies with giant robots.

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Album review: The Clementines - The Clementines

(Photo by Elise Del Vecchio at Lighted Stage Photography)

The Kansas City music community continues to thrive and expand, something The Deli KC is happy to support and report on, and this trend continues to build momentum with each passing year and each new album release. And by no means is this a boys-only club, of course; over the past several years there has been no shortage of great female singers in many genres: Abigail Henderson, Lauren Krum, Alicia Solombrino, Julia Haile, Danielle Schnebelen, and Shay Estes, just to name a half-dozen. These ladies can not only rock the mic—they do so fearlessly and effortlessly, providing a presence that is both captivating and unforgettable, and all are members of bands that bring great things to the stage whenever they’re on. There’s another name and another band vying for a place in your record collections, one that has been working the circuit, playing bars and clubs from Lawrence to Columbia and all points in between, and with the release of their full-length self-titled debut, The Clementines are ready for their well-earned time in the spotlight.
The Clementines started as a duo in 2011 with founding members Nicole Springer and Tim Jenkins each playing acoustic guitars and using their time to hone their singing and songwriting chops. They added the rhythm section of Stephanie Williams and Travis Earnshaw the next year, a move that gave heft and [if I may use a technical term here] oomph to support the power of Springer’s mighty pipes. And while they may have a lead singer whose voice can turn walls into rubble at any given moment, Springer doesn’t simply lean on her internal volume control switch in an effort to overpower her listeners. In The Clementines you’ll hear a great deal of control and command, as the music calls for presentation that runs from pensive to melancholy to victorious to daring to outright sassy. She’s got all the tools, and like any good carpenter or mechanic, she knows which tools to use and when to use them. No song features a delivery that seems out of place, and no mood is falsely presented.
Any band with such a commanding presence at the front runs the risk of being overshadowed by that voice, or of being seen as “hangers-on” who are only along for the ride because of the talent of the lead singer, not because of their own abilities. There is no such worry with The Clementines, as this is truly a band with quality at all positions. Jenkins has adapted and enhanced his guitar playing to accommodate both duo and quartet arrangements; his skills have progressed greatly since I first saw the two-piece version of the band on the recordBar stage a couple years ago. Earnshaw lends a stalwart bass presence, never pushing his way into the spotlight, but never fully conceding to the twin-mostly-acoustic-guitar sounds which he augments in fine fashion. His ability to set a warm, comfortable foundation to the proceedings is crucial to the cohesiveness of the music. And Williams is simply described in the band’s bio as “bad-ass drummer”; that’s about as spot-on as it gets. The Clementines features a wide array of genres and influences—rock, soul, jazz, Americana, gospel, blues—and their rhythmic timekeeper doesn’t miss a beat (literally and figuratively) throughout, keeping lock-step with her bandmates at every turn. If playing music with such a dominant frontwoman is a challenge, then Jenkins, Earnshaw, and Williams are more than up to the task throughout the album’s fourteen-track playlist.
A few CliffsNotes-sized looks at some of those tracks:
“Rough Times” – The first single released by the band; Americana-rock sounds with an underlying jazz snarl. To say that acoustic bands can’t groove is ridiculous, and this track serves as Exhibit A of that argument.
“Soul, Mind, Role, Survive” – The one electrified song on the album, with an added punch that gives it a ‘90s alt-rock vibe. A great change of pace.
“Could Have Been” – A menacing slice of backwoods swamp-pop swathed in Southern-fried goodness. Undeniably catchy and hooky.
“Say” – The most intricate playing by all four members, showing off the instrumental skill sets that make this band a quadruple threat.
“Responsibility” – This may be my favorite track on the album; Springer’s delivery goes from delicately soft to passionately earnest without breaking stride.
“Sightless” – Acoustic rock doesn’t get any better than this, pure and simple. Maybe *this* is my favorite track?
“Should I” – A delicate arrangement that made me think Western madrigal, which I can’t explain but it just sounds like it fits. If you’re a fan of Calexico (and you should be), this is a track for you.
“Moved” – A textbook closing track musically and one of the most lyrically powerful, an expression of longing and love lost; a very courageous move on the part of the band to close with a song that does not offer the listener the prototypical “happily ever after” ending. Okay, THIS might be my favorite track.
We all like to see friends and neighbors succeed, and when they’re willing to bust their asses to make good things happen for themselves, it’s all the more rewarding. Bands like Making Movies, She’s A Keeper, and The Latenight Callers are proof that constant work, abundant publicity, and outright ability will get your music heard. The Clementines fit that bill, with an increasing number of shows over the past few months which have led to their self-titled album being a reality—and a reality which you should tune in to. As Springer sings in “Bayou”, the album’s opening track: “I leave it up to you when we're at the bayou / to renew my existence, to sanctify my consciousness.”
Existence renewed, consciousness sanctified—and efforts very much appreciated.
Be sure to join The Clementines this Saturday, June 1, as they release their self-titled debut album at The Brick. They will kick off the show at 9 p.m., playing the album in its entirety. Root and Stem will perform afterwards. Facebook event page.
--Michael Byars

Michael Byars wrote most of this with one hand, as his other arm has gone numb from his editor’s constant punching—but he thinks she’s pretty cool anyway. [Editor's Note: She is. *punch*]

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Touring Europe with Ha Ha Tonka: An interview with Lennon Bone

The last time we caught up with Lennon Bone, he was getting ready to embark on Ha Ha Tonka’s first European tour (see our interview with him). Now the group has just come off its second European tour (literally—they just returned to the US today), which has proven to be successful. Ha Ha Tonka has also been busy at work on a follow-up album to its critically-acclaimed 2011 LP Death of A Decade. Read on to find out more about their travels and what they have in the works.
The Deli: Where in Europe have you toured?
Lennon Bone: We started out in Prague, went through Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden to go. 6 weeks total. 
The Deli: Coolest place you visited?
Bone: Prague and Dresden are the most beautiful places I've ever seen. So old and amazing. The architecture is so spectacular, it's like being in a book or something. Not to mention all the history that you hear about, but becomes so much more apparent when you actually see things like soot on buildings from where they were bombed, or gold placards on the footsteps of doors that show when a Jew was ejected from their apartment building. It's pretty intense stuff. 
Hamburg is the most fun city we've been in, I think. We saw the sun rise two days in a row and the people weren't even close to done partying. To list a few of the events we saw take place: a drunk Brit stripped down to his underwear and jumped off his party barge and had to be rescued before he drowned; someone actually died just before the show right next door to the venue we played; we saw a ton of prostitutes next to Burger King; we chased down a guy that stole some girl’s phone, and just had an absolute blast. It was a wild couple of days. 
The Deli: What's the most fun venue you've played so far?
Bone: Hmmm.... that's a tough one. The most fun venue would probably have been in London, for me. Great crowd, pretty packed and it was a Tuesday night. Over 100 different bourbons to try. Plus we got fed by some friends that work at a restaurant called River Cafe the night before. To give you an idea of how posh this place is, Elton John is doing a private event there next month and dudes like Bono and Chris Martin frequent the restaurant. 
The Deli: How have these European tours changed your perspectives as a band?
Bone: I think it's made us reevaluate our plan as a business. We see the potential in all of these new markets, and have an opportunity to break out somewhere besides the States, which can also help our draw within the States. 7 months ago we were arguing whether or not we would even be able to do a European tour, and now we've spent 3 months there in that time. 
As far as our relationships, it helps keep us all positive to do new things. We've toured the States so much in the past 8 years that we recognize gas stations from coast to coast.... it's revitalizing to see new territory and even get lost now and again. 
The Deli: What's changed and what have you learned since your first European tour?
Bone: We learned a LOT about how to save money from really screwing up on the last one. Everything from getting cheaper ferry rides to buying water at a grocery store (at a gas station it's 2 euro 60 per small bottle... You can get 8 liters for the same price at a store) and recycling the bottles (Bottles are worth .25 each). 
We've seen some markets like London and Ireland grow exponentially, which is great. We had two pre-sold out shows in Ireland. I think they were sold out almost 3 weeks in advance, one of them around 6 weeks out. So, we're seeing that things could go really well if we treat it all correctly. 
The Deli: How have crowds responded to the music? Do you plan to go back?
Bone: Crowd reception has been great! Even at the smaller shows, people seem to get rowdy and be really appreciative of us coming over here to play for them. We're already making plans to come back next year.
The Deli: There are a lot of bands that have pipe dreams about going on an overseas tour. What is your best advice to any KC band looking to do this?
Bone: My best advice would be to tour the States relentlessly before going anywhere else. We've been touring nationally for nearly 9 years now, and if we didn't have the knowledge we've learned from being on the road at home, we could have easily lost so much money being in Europe. I mean, we lost some money on the first trip anyway. It's just really expensive to make it happen. Promoters over there actually do their job as well. One of our booking agents is so committed to knowing how things are going that he's jumping in the van with us for a week. That being said, if we didn't have the tour history at home that has also brought us press that they can see, we wouldn't be having this amount of interest here… at least I don't think. If you want to tour and have it be successful, you just have to know how to tour, period. It's much cheaper to get your feet wet in the States before possibly losing your ass overseas. On the other hand, if you just want to take a vacation and play some shows, go ahead and book your tickets. Just like anywhere else, I'm sure you could find some places to play. It's really just about what your goals are. 
The Deli: Tell us a bit about the album you're currently working on. What can we expect?
Bone: The album is officially done, and we've never been so excited about something that we've made. It's still totally us, but it's like the Tonka we've always wanted to be, if that makes any sense. It was produced by Dan Molad out of Brooklyn and The Ryantist from here in Kansas City. In my opinion, two of the best producers that nobody's really heard of. Yet. I'm not saying our record is their ticket, I'm just saying that these guys were my personal first pick from day one because they're outstanding at their jobs. We've grown enough as a band that we were ready to really include the producer in the role of constructing and rethinking the songs, and Dan and The Ryantist really helped bring them to life in a way we never expected. 
We recorded the bulk of the album in Omaha where they did all the Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk records. The whole team is basically the same age, and we're used to working with producers that are older than us. For me it really felt like we were the junior high kids trying to show up the high schoolers. We just had all these mics and snare drums and shit everywhere in the room. Double-necked guitars, synths, organs, whatever... and we just had the best time making an album. We went back to recording live, so all the basics are the four of us (or sometimes the producers would just hit record and join us in the room to play other things) playing together. It just feels good to me. I can't wait for people to hear it. 
We're planning on a fall release. We’ll take off after this next US tour for a few months and get all the logistics of the new album worked out so we can start a full nationwide tour at the end of September.
The boys will be returning to the mainland and playing in Kansas City on Friday, June 14. They’ll be supporting Reverend Horton Heat at CrossroadsKC at Grinder’s. After that, they’ll head on a short US tour with Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin. Visit the band’s website to see the rest of the US tour dates.

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also holds down half the rhythm section in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and Dolls on Fire. Her?

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Album review: Slum Party - Flood

(Photo by Chad Codgill)

Flood is Slum Party’s second LP released in six month’s time. Whenever a band puts out music at that clip, you have to wonder if you have an outfit content with putting out just about anything they’ve got lying around or if they really are on a streak of vast creativity. Fortunately, Flood is a case of the latter. Slum Party has tightened and evolved their groovy, dream pop sound to new heights on this eight-song LP.

The album is deliciously lo-fi, creaking and cracking in just the right ways like an old Tascam four-track in the hands of someone not afraid of the red light. The arrangements are lush and well-sculpted. It is nice to hear the care that went into the peripherals of production and mixing, while at the same time somehow still maintaining a gorgeous and honest lo-fi glaze.
The guitar work and vocals are handled by the duo of Riley Kurtenbach and Scott Chaffin (here’s our Artist on Trial with Chaffin). Together they spin a web of distortion and reverb that hectically caroms from side to side above the often overpowered drums and bass of Jen Chaffin and Brittney Smith. Having listened to Chaffin’s work for over a decade, this is definitely the best usage of his falsetto vocal stylings I have heard. They are paired with great effectiveness with Kurtenbach’s clean voice, almost at times difficult to discern who’s singing what. It is truly an impactful dynamic trick that serves as a strong point all throughout the record.
The album opens with a somewhat confused personality in “Like It.” Kurtenbach and Chaffin establish a soothing back and forth over the resonant jam beneath, the distorted bass and chill drums slowly rocking the cradle side to side, only to completely break down and reform with a vastly different and more aggressive closing strain.
“Surprise” is a standout track for me, driven by a Gnarls Barkley-esque groove, Chaffin’s trademark trash pop guitar work, and Kurtenbach’s tight self-harmonization on the chorus.
“Tracks” is a tidy stripped down glass of lemonade in the middle of the sweltering behemoths surrounding it, the familiar fuzzy riffs replaced by a delicately strummed ukulele.
“Batwing Beauty (Surprise Reprise)” takes a stroll more on the psychedelic or jam band side streets. I’m not sure which of the guitar players is featured here, but he or she manages to bring at least a sliver of a welcomed focal point over the looped madness beneath.
The album’s closer “There’s Something Wrong w/Everyone” is like intoxicated math rock, a time signature that stayed on the Ferris wheel for one too many rides and is offering back up the corndog and cotton candy.
Slum Party has shown a consistent and dynamic evolution of their sound with this record. Sure, it’s loose at times and overall heavily medicated, but it is done with purpose and care. Flood is an exercise in sonic exploration above and beyond all past crutches. Bring on Slum Party #3.
Slum Party’s next appearance will be at Club 906 in Liberty on Saturday, June 15. Go check them out and pick up Flood.
--Zach Hodson

Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until "Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings" begins production.

He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.

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Album review: Pale Hearts - Hollowtown

A shift has taken place. Balance granted once again to the world. Emotionally thought-out sleaze has reared its head on the Kansas prairie. Pale Hearts are alive.

Like frontman Rob Gilaspie’s former band­—the sadly departed wonder that was The Spook Lights—Pale Hearts channel The Cramps in disturbing and distinctive ways on their debut Hollowtown. The band masterfully blends elements of surf, punk, rockabilly, Latin, new wave, and even grunge to make a sound that is fully formed, complete, and unique. Always a twisted, off-kilter force of nature, Gilaspie’s vocals are more Richard Hell than Lux Interior this time around. The tone and body of his lyrics has changed as well, and for the better.
While still certainly offbeat (he sings about fucking a hole in a phone book on the record’s title track. Ahhh, classic Rob) the last year has been one filled with tragic loss, financial setbacks, and the collapse of a long-term relationship has caused a shift. Now, Gilaspie seems to be a changed man, unafraid to stand out front and exorcise his pain through rockabilly-fueled yelps, screeches, and screams; to say what he is thinking without coating it in layer upon layer of camp. The honest excitement and joy that he conveys during his live performances translates perfectly to tape on Hollowtown, while the band makes fantastic, strangely serene surf-influenced rock ‘n roll to feed the schizophrenic fire of the album.
Where The Spook Lights, while great at times, could be limited in scope, Pale Hearts are a band more than capable of reining it in or filling the horizon with sound, and it shows on Hollowtown. Rob Kemp’s guitar on “Breakheart Mambo” sounds as though it came straight from a David Lynch film; sauntering around the room with Mike Young’s drumming filling the song with restrained power as Gilaspie takes shots at a presumed former lover. “You made the scene on your back / you’ll go out the same way.” 
“Motorsports” is the song that feels most likely to make it to the radio. Melinda Robinson’s bass work is of a quality that would make Joy Division’s Peter Hook proud, razor sharp and ominous, while her background vocals bring a soft, otherworldly touch to Gilaspie’s wounded words. An amazing sonic feat considering the entire album was recorded and mixed in drummer Mike Young’s bedroom.
Hollowtown takes many paths; there is lamenting the loss of love (“Moon in the Gutter”), straight up weirdo surf interplanetary sleaze (They Pass for Human, High Plains Disko) and beauty (Motorsports). Hollowtown has powerful touches and velvet gloves, gnashed teeth and sincere smiles.
It is a weird record, not in a contrived way but genuine. This is who they are; forceful, delicate, talented and astonishing. Gilapsie has finally found the right band to help him make the record that has always been there, lurking just below the slime. Hollowtown left me off balance, not knowing where to go, which was up; all of these things are meant in a good way. It has been said that everyone has one good book in them. Hollowtown is The Pale Hearts epic novel. Dashell Hammett would be pleased.
The release party for Hollowtown is this Friday, May 24 at Frank’s North Star Tavern in Lawrence. Fake Surfers (Detroit) and Jocks will also be playing. Facebook event page. If you can’t make it out there, they’ll be at Black and Gold Tavern on Wednesday, June 5 with Deco Auto. Facebook event page.
--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph, MO music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader and many others. 


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