Kansas City’s Actors&Actresses has a sound that far surpasses what one would expect from just three people. The trio have steadily built a national fan base thanks to their label The Mylene Sheath (Gifts From Enola, Junius, Giants) with which they have worked for most of their existence. The label released the band’s latest studio output, 2009′s Arrows (recorded at Eudora’s Black Lodge with David Gaume of The Stella Link), though they most recently re-issued the band’s 2005 debut EP, We Love Our Enemy (recorded at HUM frontman Matt Talbot’s studio with the great Paul Malinowski of Shiner). With the recording details listed above, I think one can surmise that the band is largely influenced by a sonically driven, spaced out rock that has been championed by the likes of Failure, HUM, and Shiner, among others.
While those who are looking forward to brand new A&A tracks will have to wait a bit longer, their take on HUM’s “Aphids” can be found on the recently released tribute compilation to the aforementioned, Songs of Farewell and Departure. Locals Anakin and The Esoteric are featured on the album as well, performing “I’d Like Your Hair Long” and “Iron Clad Lou,” respectively. Author side note, I’m confused as to why no band attempted a re-imagining of “Diffuse,” a top 3 favorite of mine from the band. But perhaps this is for the best, lest it be tainted by a group who should not even be included in the first place (ahem, Funeral For a Friend).
On Friday, September 23rd, The Mylene Sheath will begin accepting pre-orders for ARC: Arrows Remix Compilation, a 14-track (digital) or 8-track (vinyl) remix and reinterpretation album, featuring various artists de- and re-constructing songs from the band’s 2009 album. A few of the artists featured include Philip Jamieson of Caspian (under the guise The Atlas Ladder), Will Benoit of Constants (using the name New Rochelle Rotary Club), Arms & Sleepers, and other artists who may have crossed paths with the label in the past. Only 207 copies of this release will be available on vinyl, and only part of that will be available for pre-order from the label. If you want to get in on this, either get your mouse finger ready or track down one of the members of the band.
Additional nerd note: in 1993, HUM’s “Diffuse” appeared on a compilation CD released by Lawrence label Lotus Pool, titled Feast of the Sybarites. The compilation was populated primarily by Midwestern bands, including local artists Howard Iceberg and the Titanics, Sufferbus, Kill Creek, Rise, Panel Donor and Zoom. The last two bands on that list had releases through the label around that time as well. The compilation is worth seeking out for fans of local music.
This will be my first installment in a weekly series of posts chronicling area bands and artists offering direct music downloads either for free or for a small fee (no more than $5). Releases included will typically be those that have been available for more than a few months, or albums from artists that are buzz-worthy but aren’t yet ready for their own dedicated post. There is a not-so-subtle theme in this one, see if you can catch on. And here we go…
The Caves – Fives Songs With… EP (2010) – First up is KC alt/indie-pop quartet The Caves, founded by Andrew Ashby and Jake Cardwell of The Belles (Ashby is also known for The String & Return), along with David Gaumé of The Stella Link. The band has been around for the better part of a decade, when they finally got a chance to release their first EP, and recruited Elizabeth Bohannon into the fold to play keys and lend a backing voice to the band’s previously all-Ashby vocals. The band plans for this to be the first in a series of three EPs, but there have been no updates on the status of future recordings. Download Five Songs for $5.
Hidden Pictures – Synchronized Sleeping (2011) – Next is Lawrence by-way-of Kansas City indie-pop group Hidden Pictures. The band has been the project of Richard Gintowt and Michelle Gaumé Sanders since its conception, and has featured a veritable who’s who of local musicians who have contributed for a short time then moved on to create something else. This album alone features the talent of four different bass players, three drummers, a cellist, a viola, trombone, and a saxophone. This album can be downloaded for only $5 and features six bonus tracks, the unreleased EP of Gintowt’s previous band, OK Jones.
Ghosty – Team Up Again EP (2010) – Ghosty has hit the rare distinction for a still-active local band, as this year marks the 10 year anniversary of the band’s first EP, though just like Hidden Pictures, it serves as Andrew Connor’s musical baby in that he has been the only constant through its lifespan. The band was formed when the Sioux Falls, SD, native met Richard Gintowt while attending KU, though Gintowt left the band early on to form OK Jones. Both pop heavyweights in their own right, Connor’s influences from Alex Chilton and The Beach Boys are much more apparent. This, and two others at the link, are available for free.
The ACB’s – Stona Rosa (2011) – Stona Rosa serves as the sophomore release from Kansas City’s The ACB’s. Their self-titled debut, itself a respectable mimic of In Color-era Cheap Trick with additional nods to Big Star and Badfinger, was completely obliterated when the group resurfaced in late 2010. Now with Andrew Connor’s Midas touch in tow, the band returned as a powerpop juggernaut, arguably releasing one of the best local albums of 2011, and sealing their position as one of the bands to watch over the next few years. The release is offered as pay what you want, but can be had for free if you wish.
Bonus: Billy Belzer – You Shouldn’t Have (2011) – If you’ve been keeping up, that links The Caves to Hidden Pictures through siblings, Hidden Pictures to Ghosty via college alum, and Ghosty to The ACB’s through Andrew Connor’s propensity to lend his talent to half a dozen bands at any given time. The family tree ends there for today, but as a bonus I am including frequent Ghosty contributor Billy Belzer’s solo debut, a release bringing in the talent of many area musicians, including, you guessed it, Andrew Connor. Connor and Belzer are also in Mary Fortune with Ghosty artist (and Connor’s wife) Liz Connor. Get the EP for $5.