Sneak peak of Berwanger’s ‘Exorcism Rock’ figures at Modern Vinyl

For the forthcoming Berwanger album, Exorcism Rock — the second for the band, and first for label Doghouse Records — frontman Josh Berwanger has more in mind than just 11 tracks of exceedingly catchy rock ‘n’ roll. As if four different vinyl variants weren’t enough, there’s going to be an action figure variant. Wait, what? Yes, indeed. An action figure tied to a new album isn’t new, obviously — Major Lazer and Less Than Jake have both released vinyl toys to tie in with records — but this might be the first to be blister-carded to the front of an LP. It’s such a crazy and cool idea, we reached out to Berwanger, as well as the man making it, Aaron of indie toymaker, Retroband. Not only did we get to hear about the new collaboration, but we have the exclusive first look at the Exorcism Rock toy.
Read both Q&As in full at Modern Vinyl. Published 10/20/16

September Cine Local at the Pitch

Somehow, the vast majority of this roundup all came in immediately after we posted last month's installment. Happily, there are some gorgeous visuals from rock acts such as Chris Crabtree, Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds, and Berwanger, the Uncouth's street punk, and a funky newscast from the Band That Saved the World.
Watch all the videos at the Pitch. Published 10/4/16

August Cine Local at the Pitch

If you've read this week's issue, you're obviously aware there are tons of great local releases out now. And now, if you watch your way through all of these videos, you'll know all about the releases coming out in the next couple of months. Whether you like Keef Mountain's stoner doom, Various Blonde's genre-breaking beats, the heartbreaking pop of Heidi Lynn Gluck, or Berwanger's glam power-pop, there's something to catch your eyes and ears. We even have some classic footage from the Wilmas in this month's Cine Local.
View all the videos at the Pitch. Published 9/1/16

Berwanger announces split with TK Webb

art - berwanger tk webb split We've demonstrated some love for Berwanger a lot recently, and it'll only ramp up now that the band's getting ready to release their full-length, All You Can Eat, later this spring. In advance of all of that, however, will come this split 7-inch with TK Webb on California's Creme Tangerine Records. Berwanger's contribution, as you can see, is the track "Neon Corners." No clue as to when the split will see release, but keep an eye on the band's Facebook page for more updates. You can hear a live version of the band's track below, in a live video shot by Sid from Too Much Rock during their show at the Jackpot in Lawrence on Thursday, February 7, 2013.

Soft Reeds / Berwanger / Dark Satellites at the Replay, 2/8/13

Another Friday night, another show at the Replay. It seems the folks booking bands for the bar understand that people will go out on a weekend night to drink, no matter what, especially in a college town. Considering they can go most anywhere, it's worth throwing a good show together to drag in a few extra folks. Friday's show was a particularly Kansas City affair -- the wife and I saw few people we recognized, and Soft Reeds is a popular enough act these days to pull the crowd west down I-70 to see them. They've a new album coming out later this month, entitled Blank City, and the majority of the songs they played during their headline set drew from it. Ben Grimes' band has come a long way since they first debuted. Soft Reeds were once the red-headed stepchild to the Republic Tigers. In the wake of the breakup of the Golden Republic, the group which Grimes and the Republic Tigers' Kenn Jankowski played in for almost a decade, the Tigers formed first and signed with an imprint of Atlantic rather quickly thereafter. Soft Reeds started as a Grimes solo project, and only worked its way into a full band later. When I saw Soft Reeds last -- almost a year ago -- I compared them to Wire and Dismemberment Plan, and that's accurate, but the group's turned from a variation of the Golden Republic's danceable pop into a darker, leaner thing. Whereas Grimes' earlier work drew on Bolan and the boogie, Soft Reeds are rooted in Bowie's post-Ziggy bleakness. Everything's lean, mean, and focused. There's a groove, but it's more Gang of Four than anything else. [gallery ids="16271,16272,16273,16274,16275,16276"]
Openers Berwanger are rapidly becoming one of those bands to catch -- an act you try to drag friends to see when they're playing. Since I saw them open for Gentleman Jesse last year, they've tightened up and started to rock a little bit more on the pop edge. Someone mentioned after their set that it seems like the songs early in their set seem to be older, and they work through the songs as they go, ending with the newest material. I think that's an apt observation -- this is a group that's made up of scene veterans, and they know how to write tight numbers that will grab your attention. [gallery ids="16278,16279,16280"]
Tightness is not a term to apply to the evening's first act, Dark Satellites. Their Dinosaur Jr.-inspired, '70s-leaning guitar jams were loud and excellently full of riffs, and did a wonderful job of waking me up from a groggy haze. While loud and riff-heavy, however, each song went on a good minute longer than necessary. Never has a band announced "we've got two songs left" and had me hang my head so low, knowing that there was another ten minutes of jamming to be had. Unfortunate, too -- their songs, trimmed of the minute of dross and excess at the end of each, might be some monster pieces of guitar rock, a sound sorely lacking in the KC / Lawrence area as of late. Also impressive was Dark Satellites' stage banter: "Look at all these beards. We're not just a shitty band. We're also a South Pole expedition waiting to happen.," "These are all Spin Doctors covers, played at twice the speed." Seriously, these guys are witty. Come for the music. Stay for the banter. [gallery ids="16282,16283,16284"]

Gentleman Jesse & His Men at the Jackpot

[caption id="attachment_4768" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Gentleman Jesse"]Gentleman Jesse[/caption] Every time I see Gentleman Jesse & His Men, it's a clinic in pure power-pop. The man's songs are perfect three-minute encapsulations of everything that's punchy and catchy. I'm pretty sure the charlie horse I'm currently trying to work out of my right calf is the result of tapping my toes for the entirety of the band's set last night. [caption id="attachment_4769" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Gentleman Jesse & His Men"]Gentleman Jesse & His Men[/caption] Unfortunately, the turnout for this mid-week show was pretty woeful. There were maybe two dozen people in the Jackpot at its most busy, which is a shame, because I didn't see a single person in the club who wasn't enjoying themselves. Gentleman Jesse & His Men's rock 'n' roll appeals to everyone, and how could it not? When you take a song like "Highland Crawler" and play it back-to-back with "Black Hole," people can figure out where to sing along after a verse or two, and they're instantly part of the show. This isn't music that you have to stand back and analyze -- it's instantly accessible to anyone with even the basest understanding of the rock canon. By the end of the first chorus of the first song, you know what's going on, and you're bouncing up and down like everyone else. [caption id="attachment_4770" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Gentleman Jesse & His Men"]Gentleman Jesse & His Men[/caption] If I had a quibble with the show, it'd be that it was heavily weighted towards Leaving Atlanta, the band's most recent album, on Douchemaster Records. I'd've killed to hear "She's A Trap" or "You've Got the Wrong Man" from those singles that came between the group's LPs, but really -- when your complaint is that a band didn't play a certain song, you have no complaint. [caption id="attachment_4771" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Gentleman Jesse"]Gentleman Jesse[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4772" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Gentleman Jesse & His Men\'s setlist"]Gentleman Jesse & His Men's setlist[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4773" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Berwanger"]Berwanger[/caption] Openers Berwanger didn't take the stage until after 10:30pm, but promptly ripped through a set of tunes that really complimented the music that would come later. While Gentleman Jesse's tunes are high-energy and bouncy, the music the former Annniversary and Only Children member makes is a tad more laconic. There's less jangle in their pop, and more room for the occasional guitar solo. [caption id="attachment_4774" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Berwanger"]Berwanger[/caption] Underneath that laconic exterior, however, lies something hard. There's no sharp edges on what Berwanger and company play, but there's an underlying sense of toughness that's hard to put into words. For all the melody and harmony (all three bandmembers with guitars also sang), there's a solid base beneath it all that just sounds ... tough, for lack of a better word. [caption id="attachment_4775" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Berwanger"]Berwanger[/caption] They quintet played a track for a forthcoming split with TK Webb that really set the tone for what I think Berwanger is really going for -- poppy garage, but with enough of a punk and blues edge to it to really grab your attention. It's the music that doesn't remind you of Berwanger's former acts that makes for the interesting parts of their set -- although going "talent show" in the middle of a song because a string broke and the kick drum kept moving was pretty funny. [caption id="attachment_4776" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Berwanger"]Berwanger[/caption]