animal years, this is part one of an album called animal years

Our favorite botanist Mike McFadden (vocals) and his incredible bandmates are releasing their full-length in three parts. Of the project, he admitted: “We had this patchwork of songs that had never quite fit on other projects and when we looked at them all together, we realized that the songs told a story.” This is Part One of An Album Called Animal Years is the first installment, and was just released.

Comprised of five tracks, it truly ignites magic in the air as it picks up pace, McFadden’s vocal control and manipulation something otherworldly from the very first notes, 7 seconds into the first track “What I’m Fighting For.” And relatable from that very moment as well, with the first line “I’ve been so lost in the world that I used to know” something that pretty much anyone can understand, especially post-pandemic life. This song has the energy of an anthem, and that feels right for now.

“Let You In” is definitely a low-key country ballad that teeters on theatrical in a captivating way, while “Talkin’ To You” is a more hard-hitting love song. There is a bit of an attitude to the instrumentation in the track, the true twine holding each piece together residing in the soulful vocals provided by three-part harmony and admirable vocal range. So much talent in one collection of music, it’s almost not fair.

“Haines St. Station” slows everything down to the most bluesy, beautiful pace we have heard in quite a while. A song that discusses boundaries, insecurities, and doubts in an open environment, it feels a bit cathartic to enjoy this track in particular. And then the trio brings it home with a very inspiring track, upbeat and quite sticky sweet “Nobody Can Stop Me.” We’re fans, and we’re going to keep that one in our back pocket for the strange moments when we stumble. The energy is invigorating.

danger // chain, roses in a glass

danger // chain, roses in a glass

This weekend is the first one where we’ve felt awake and like we’re gaining momentum for the first time this year. Perhaps that’s because we’re lucky enough to host the exclusive premiere of Danger // Chain‘s 5-track Roses In A Glass EP, and it’s been playing on repeat since it landed in our inbox.

Eighties-inspired synth and inspired bass lines almost dance around the dark, eery vocals as we spin into what can only be explained as a Tim Burton-esque existence. Hauntingly beautiful, it’s actually served as the soundtrack we needed to get our asses in gear.

Says Heather:

I don’t think anyone has all the answers for how to make a better world, but certainly we should be able to imagine one through art. As an artist, it’s my job to reflect what’s going on around me. I believe it is the responsibility of artists to speak on matters of a political nature. Roses In A Glass is my interpretation of the world as it is today, told through a retro futuristic lens. We may not be able to escape the current times, but we can still listen to music. I believe very much that music heals.

Let the dark ambiance envelope you this weekend.

rob kovacs, let go

rob kovacs, let go

Acclaimed piano virtuoso, Rob Kovacs, illustrates his talents in his newest endeavor: Let Go. The 9 track album is emotional, momentous, and provides a raw demonstration of life’s ups and downs. 

Having already been named “Best Pianist/Keyboardist” by the Cleveland Free Times, Kovacs is no stranger to the spotlight. Adding to his repertoire, the Cleveland native was the first pianist in history to perform both parts of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase live. I encourage you to look up the impressive feat if you wish to be amazed by the human capacity. 

Let Go tells the story of one relationship from beginning to end, in chronological order. Having worked on the concept album for over a decade, Kovacs was sure to not leave anything out. “Phade” kicks off the album similarly to how many relationships often do; peacefully and hopeful. As time goes on however, and the tracks progress, heavier weight is involved. “Here in the Future” hints at traces of anxiety, and in “Should-Haves” regret becomes clear. 

29 minutes and 55 seconds later, the listener has finished a musical three-course meal. From excitement, to the darker spaces of the world and back to a place of acceptance – one is left with a new perspective, as well as a scar. We only have Rob Kovacs to thank for all of that.

tele novella, merlynn belle

tele novella, merlynn belle

Is there a better way to describe the type of genre-bending, nostalgia-brimming sonic experience Texas-based pop duo Tele Novella delivers than to call it, simply, “whimsical?” This can be said for the entirety of their first full-length release, a ten-track piece titled Merlynn Belle. Sure, the very pointed pop, folk, and psychedelic influences leap quite fluidly from one to the other, but there is a type of theatrical quality to their delivery that makes even spooky nuances in their tracks feel positive and hopeful.

Except “Crystal Witch.” That is still very intense and largely dark. But, if you choose to enjoy the short 3 minutes and 9 seconds this track takes up, you’ll still feel that theatrical positivity by the end. (Don’t ask. We don’t make the rules.)

It’s no surprise that the duo’s sound is so reminiscent of past beauty, either. The premise of their art is that it comes from a town – Lockhart, Texas, specifically – that is “a small town, lost in time.” Lyrics like “Send me a postcard when you get to” (Words That Stay), “I’ve got her bonnet and her gloves” (One Little Pearl), and “In my Technicolor Town” (Technicolor Town) reaffirm the fact that the music is to have come from that time, and is not just heavily influenced by that trend. However, the duo has done a stand-up job at making sure the majority of the lyrics translate and are not tied to one timeframe or one particular circumstance.

One overarching theme to this album is that it is there to paint a picture. Where the lyrics wouldn’t indicate context in some ways, the bassline and cadence paint their own pictures. This is truly an audio adventure, meant to be enjoyed in order, from beginning to end.

At just 32 minutes long, we have faith you can set aside some time for this energetic and truly phenomenal release in its entirety.

amy farrand and the like, the one

amy farrand and the like, the one

It is with great pleasure that we wait with bated breath for Kansas City’s own Amy Farrand and The Like to play the official record release show for their debut album One this Saturday, April 28th. The band – adequately self-described as genre-defiant – is comprised of a group of incredible musicians, including, of course, esteemed songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (and band namesake) Amy Farrand, who has been working on this musical project since 2015. Having entertained at some incredible local events – including, but certainly not limited to, Kansas City’s Middle of The Map Fest and Apocalypse Meow – the sextet is amped to let their work reach more ears, and to continue with their incredibly endearing live performance tactics with the new tracks.

One was recorded at Weights and Measures Lab with Duane Trower and is an eleven track stunner you absolutely do not want to miss. If you haven’t heard it already, it was released recently, following the success of the single “Scared To Death of Dying”, which is the perfect jam track. A musical journey alongside Amy Farrand and The Like includes some incredibly soulful vocal vibes, accompanied by a robust-sounding horns section and high energy percussion that really bring everything to life and create some versatility to the tracks. While tracks like “White Girl Wasted” and “Scared to Death of Dying” actually address some common social commentary, the band is laser-focused on tracks like “Dragon Woman” and “Sweet Thing”, two of our absolute favorites from this collection.

Join Amy Farrand and The Likes in celebration of this honest and beautiful collection of songs on April 28th at 8pm at Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club (3402 Main Street, Kansas City, MO). Inviting the warm weather in with this crowd is going to be an absolute delight!

originally published on playlistplay.com.

matt boroff, beautiful machine

matt boroff, beautiful machine

On his new album Beautiful Machine, Matt Boroff ventures into unknown territory to examine our relationship with technology.  While Boroff has been making music for years, this album finds him still evolving the way artists should.  Boroff compares the tracks on his newest release to episodes of Black Mirror, and this comparison is an appropriate one.  With dark and sometimes dreary tones running throughout, one can easily see how these tracks could end up as the soundtrack for the show.

The first track, “Beautiful Machine” is a perfect start, representing the dark vibes that the rest of the album gives off.  As the title suggests, it also is a perfect way to get us thinking about our relationship with technology.  “Trust” is the realization that we cannot depend on everything around us.  While this track gives off some political vibes, it also can easily be related to what we see online.  Another stand-out track is “Echo Chamber”, which speaks of the frustration of having your voice lost in the mix of millions of others.  Boroff closes out with “Future Crimes”, a chaotic look at our online world, one that declares nobody is innocent.