Earlier this year, local media outlets were beside themselves with the arrival of the new band Minden. The band, composed of members of Kelpie, the Button Band, Buffalo Saints, and other Lawrence acts from the last 5-8 years, was consistently being labeled as a supergroup. I really had no idea why they received this label, but the members have all been a part of musical projects I respect, so I took the term with a grain of salt. I’ve just learned of a new local band that encompasses the term “supergroup” in its truest form.
Christopher Tolle has been active in the Lawrence and Kansas City music scenes for nearly 18 years, from his work in Rise, a high school band that is better off staying in the past (though the lineup also featured a young J.D. Warnock), and Action Man (a band that, if I can remember my history right, started as an offshoot of Five-0 called The Hayseeds, and even had John Harper in the lineup for the earliest days), to the locally seminal Creature Comforts and his primary project for the better part of the last decade, The Belles. Tolle has been a wellspring of great music output for half of his life, and is sure to continue this trend with his newest band, Early Reflections.
Joining Tolle in his newest endeavor is Andrew Sallee of Namelessnumberheadman on guitar, vocals, and wurlitzer. Sallee and the rest of NNHM formed the band when they were living in Shawnee, OK, a small town about 45 minutes east of Oklahoma City, and though the band went through a few different names (Hipster Dufus, The Fauves) before settling on the one that stuck, they essentially found their name when they found a new home in Kansas City a little over a decade ago. NNHM have been dormant for the last few years, but popped up this past winter to play an anniversary show at Recordbar.
Next up in Early Reflections is guitarist/vocalist Bill Latas, best known as one of the founding members of iconic Kansas City grunge/rock band Outhouse. Outhouse played a reunion show at Recordbar earlier this year, but Latas has been staying musically active in a funk/rock and occasional tribute group known as Perpetual Change. Coincidentally, Outhouse co-founders Brad Gaddy and Shawn Poores, as well as Go Kart‘s Larry Groce have been active in their new wave/’80s tribute band called The Zeros.
Brian Everard is the resident bass player in the band. He is currently known as a member of both The Belles and Blackpool Lights, but was in The Creature Comforts as well, meaning all four of his most recognized bands have either been with Tolle, or a member of The Creature Comforts (drummer Billy Brimblecom is in BPL, as well as a range of tribute bands with CC guitarist Warnock).
Rounding out the lineup and further proving the incestuous nature of local music, we have drummer and audio engineer extraordinaire Chris Cosgrove. The list of bands he has been in is dwarfed in comparison to the amount of artists he has worked with in the studio, but the most notable act he was in was the early ’90s math rock quartet Zoom, who themselves played a reunion (or four) earlier this year, one of which was at Recordbar (I see a growing trend here, no?), as part of the previously mentioned NNHM anniversary gig.
Early Reflections will be playing their first official show as a band on June 30th, opening for Meat Puppets at Recordbar. They have been playing unofficially as a more or less “Chris Tolle and Friends” band for a few months, though. One of their public performances worth mentioning is their participation in the recent Replacements tribute show, the lineup only a four piece of Tolle, Everard, Latas, and Shawn Poores. The Dead Girls, Chad Rex, John Velghe & His Prodigal Sons, and a cast of other area musicians appeared on the bill that night as well. Appearing with Early Reflections and Meat Puppets is a Belgian garage revival band called The Black Box Revelation, for fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It will be a night that should not be missed.
Kansas City musician Casey Burge has been more than a continual blip on my music radar since I was but a teenager. From his work in the late, lamented Lawrence indie rock band Kelpie, who boasted an arsenal of musicians from other area favorites like The Appleseed Cast, Buffalo Saints and Larryville expats Cavaliers, to his collaboration with Jim Button in the Button Band, Burge’s musical craft has matured in the public eye for nearly a decade. I had all but forgotten about the man when he re-emerged recently in Minden, a quartet being billed as some sort of indie rock supergroup, whether by the band’s consent or not. Having gotten a chance to see the band perform their style of multiple decade-spanning indie-pop live at Riot Room as part of the Middle of the Map Fest, I can attest to their larger than life sound and eagerly look forward to their output in the future. But I digress, this post is about the man, not the band.
Unbeknownst to myself, Burge was still recording pop gems in his bedroom throughout the late ‘oughts, and they were not made public until early this year when local cassette label Overland Shark released a limited run, 20-track tape of his work from late 2007-early 2008, titled Universal Fun. Though simply recorded through a computer microphone, the heart of every song is encased in soaring bittersweet pop melodies, most of which last under 90 seconds and either fade out without a real conclusion or end in an odd, almost saddening guitar strum, a scrapped demo track of a fully fleshed song that will probably never exist. And yet, as the bright yellow cover would subtly suggest, the sunny simplicities of those songs gave new and old listeners a view into what Burge was shifting toward, a sound that would soon break out into the aforementioned Minden, and yet another solo release.
Triumph was recorded between February and May of 2011, and shows a decidedly more coherent creation process in the instrumentation and recording, gaining that much more stability from the drum machine Burge employed for the release. Instead of an assorted spread of minimalistic acoustic pop, the nine track release is as robust as a lo-fi album can be, giving nods to the annals of pop anti-heroes from the last four plus decades. Two of the tracks from this release were re-recorded as Minden for their upcoming 7″ on The Record Machine, and plans are for a coinciding release week with the cassette I currently speak of. In the meantime, go check it out for yourself right here, and pre-order the cassette while you’re at it.