Above image: Hi-Lux | Photo by Todd Zimmer
It’s time for our rundown of new #kcmusic releases in this second quarter of 2018. Here are a few tracks that might find a spot on your summer playlists.
Sons of Great Dane – “Falling Asleep”
It’s been a little more than five years since we’ve heard any recorded material from Sons of Great Dane. The band hasn’t even played a proper show since 2015, though its members have stayed busy with projects like The Casket Lottery, Various Blonde and Cadillac Flambé. So there was plenty of cause for excitement when we got teasers of a new EP in mid-2017 via the band’s Facebook page, but nothing concrete arrived until about a month ago. “Falling Asleep” is the lead track from “A Bit Before the Dawn,” a four-track EP expected to drop in June. On the single, Brent Windler’s power-pop melodies fit tastefully within the song’s dusky Americana soundscape, characterized with an expansive lap steel guitar.
We The People – “Bando”
While the name may not sound familiar to you, We The People features some of Kansas City’s most innovative instrumentalists and producers. The first single, “Bando,” off the band’s upcoming debut EP, glides in softly with Eddie Moore’s twinkling Fender Rhodes piano and erupts into a cacophony of percussion and sirens, carrying it into its second act. Here, guest emcee Duncan Burnett commands the mic as he conveys the struggles of black urban youth in America, urging his community to hold their heads high and fight with their voices. The song, written by Moore and Burnett, is backed by a sizzling hip-hop drum beat from Zach Morrow, a funky, syncopated bass line from Dominique Sanders and sleek production by Leonard Dstroy. Stream the full song at this link. We The People has been touring through Houston and Detroit, but you can catch the group on Thursday, June 14 at recordBar, taking over hosting duties for Moore’s Fresh2Def series.
Hi-Lux – “Don’t Blame Lee”
The latest single from Hi-Lux is a remix of “Don’t Blame Me,” the B-side of the band’s 45-rpm record released at the beginning of 2018. While the original rendition is an easygoing complement to the vintage soul A-side “Dance With My Baby,” this new mix beckons the idyllic island vibes of summer — thanks to an appearance by reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry. Known as the godfather of dub, the 82-year-old Grammy winner was one of the first artists to use a sample in a recording (“People Funny Boy”), helped jumpstart Bob Marley & The Wailers’ career and co-produced The Beastie Boys’ 1998 album, “Hello Nasty.” Perry’s magic shows up on this quixotic cut, propelled by the exquisitely ubiquitous voice of Julia Haile, a jaunty bass line and horns drenched in reverb. Hi-Lux’s next Kansas City show is at Boulevardia, on Saturday, June 16.
Lava Dreams – “Lava Dreams”
With her inaugural solo venture, Lava Dreams, Julia Hamilton is stretching her creative muscles. The former frontwoman of folk-pop act Miry Wild recorded, produced and released a self-titled EP at the beginning of May. It’s a DIY effort colored with the chillest of grooves and textures, showing the songwriter’s eagerness to experiment with new sounds and incorporate them into her musical universe. “There’s nowhere to hide in Lava Dreams,” Hamilton said. “When I perform, I’m just one person setting all their struggles free in front of a bunch of strangers. So far it’s been therapeutic, challenging and extremely rewarding.” She’ll be performing this Saturday, May 19 at miniBar.
Mysterious Clouds – “My Head Is Going Round”
While Mysterious Clouds’ 2017 debut, “Panic on the Moon Meridian,” was a dark, chaotic reflection of a society in turmoil, the band’s latest EP is more fit for a psychotropic, sun-soaked road trip across a California desert. “My Head Is Going Round” was created as a counterpoint to the heaviness of “Panic,” from the minds of brothers Dedric and Delaney Moore. With soaring guest vocals from Taryn Blake Miller of Your Friend, the EP equally takes cues from West Coast underground ’60s psych rock and a glimpse at humanity through the interstellar lens of science fiction. “My Head Is Going Round” will be released on May 25, with copies available at the band’s show at recordBar on Thursday, May 24. Listen to Dedric Moore’s Eight One Sixty interview here.
Janelle Monáe – “Dirty Computer”
OK — it’s not totally fair to classify Janelle Monáe as a local act, but it’d be a shame not to mention the KC native’s new album and accompanying “emotion picture” film. In her first studio effort since 2013’s “The Electric Lady,” Monáe steps out from behind the veil of her alter ego android Cindi Mayweather and sets herself — and, by proxy, the rest of us — free. Living in a totalitarian state, “dirty computers” (in this case, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color) are cleansed of their so-called impurities. Monáe navigates us through this dystopian world by exuding brazen sexuality, an exhilarating pop youthfulness and a banging discourse on feminist empowerment.
—Michelle Bacon writes about #kcmusic for 90.9 The Bridge and plays bass and drums in bands. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @michelleobacon.