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Top 15 Kansas City & Lawrence EP's Of 2015

And I thought going through all the full-length records from this year was tough. A barrage of local punk demos, bedroom recordings, and long-awaited rock EPs rained down upon me this year. Kansas City and Lawrence really churned 'em out in 2015 and these are the short records that you need to know about.

-Bummer - "Spank"
"Spank" was a record years in the making. Bummer had been rocking for a couple years before a widely available physical release was produced, so along with pressing plant delays, this sucker took a while to make it out, but boy was it worth the wait. "Spank" is 10 inches of everything you love about loud, heavy '90's rock-n-roll. Helmet and Melvins influences apparent throughout, Bummer really outdid themselves on this one. I hear an LP may be up next.

-The Conquerors - "You Must Be Dreaming/Maybe Someday" and "I Don't Know/I See You"
While they were released as two separate 7 inch singles, we'll be lumping the two together just because they were so damn catchy. The Conquerors have slowly evolved from a band making spacey, Nuggets compilation-esque psychedelic rock into making shorter, snappier (still psychedelic) pop tunes. The A-side on their August single, "I Don't Know," sounds like it was ripped straight from "Fifth Dimension" by The Byrds.

-The Deacons - "Beat Up The World"
The Deacons is a new punk band featuring members of Dirty Work, Beta Boys, and a dozen other Kansas City bands from the past five years. Their debut EP offers a mix of gritty '80's inspired Midwest hardcore, bluesy guitar riffing, and a bit of The Germs style '70's punk. Real pissed off rock-n-roll.

-Inner Altar -"Vol I"
After the band Blood Shaman disintegrated last year after a key member moved to Chicago, Inner Altar quickly rose from the ashes. Featuring the same singer as their predecessor, Inner Altar continues to bring raw, early doom and stoner metal back in KC. Bang your head to this ASAP.

-Blindside USA - "Wave Of Regret"
Another band picking up where their peers left off is Blindside USA. Kicked In broke up in 2012 and Kansas City was left without a straight up New York hardcore or youth crew style band. Spine offers up similar styles but they often powerviolence in on their tracks. This EP, the band's first vinyl offering, is also a big step up from their 2014 demo. Blindside USA is bound to have you two-steppin' into 2016 strong.

-Eric Griffin Jr. - "Pick Ur Sinking Ship"
Eric Griffin Jr. is a name you'll be seeing a lot in 2016 (if you read this blog at least). Griffin is by far one of the best songwriters in Kansas City and has an incredible knack for creating a calming, nostalgic atmosphere the second he starts a song. His deep voice crooning over a beautifully crafted pop song and a quiet, understated rhythm section (that he records all of himself) spot on for this whole EP. He's right up there with King Krule and Mac DeMarco in that respect. "Cherry Coke + Weed" was a late summer anthem for me.

-Cryogenics - "Demo"
Sadly, Cryogenics both started and ended in 2015 after a falling out between members put a freeze on the good times. They were nice enough to leave us with this tape though. The demo is filled to the brim with catchy pogo-punk tunes and vocals dripping with sarcasm.

-Youth Pool - "Demo"
Members of long-lasting local emo group Sad Armour regrouped in 2015 to form Youth Pool. YP plays a gorgeous and leaned-out take on '90's shoegaze. Drawing influence from bands like Ride and Lush, the group's first release is still a little rough around the edges, but does more than enough to showcase the band's talent for writing songs in that vain and their dedication to the genre. The opening riff on "Headsweeper" will suck you in and refuse to let you go. I go to sleep to this joint at least once a week (that's a compliment).

-Blind Dog - "Demo"
Drawing on some of the same influences as Cryogenics (they had members in common), Blind Dog's take on British punk is a bit more militant. You can tell they jammed out to a little Rudimentary Peni and Discharge before working on their demo. The band also put on one of the most impressive first sets I've ever seen a punk band play. Blind Dog's snotty, self-deprecating brand of hardcore is one that is hard not to like.

-Lazy - "Live at University Of Maryland"
Lazy never really stuck for me before 2015. Granted I had never seen them live, only listening to a few releases online over the years, they just didn't do much for me. However this year the band's frontman switched around the rest of the band's lineup and the results are incredible. The band that used to play average-sounding punk music for art kids and weirdos is now playing a unique and volatile style of post-punk a la Wire and Mission Of Burma. The transition is very apparent on this live EP released late in the year.

-Phantom Head - "Let The Miracles Begin"
Dan Ohm is one of the most creative rock musicians in Kansas City. So naturally, every time he starts a new band everyone I know is stoked. The man who helped create Meat Mist, Eunuch, Burial Teens, and others brought Phantom Head into being this year. Their ripping, riffing style of garage punk will have you tapping your foot immediately.

-Chasm - "Demo"
Newlywed duo Jordan and Danni front this newly formed band. Chasm plays a spooky mixture of punk, garage rock, and stoner metal. The perfect soundtrack to fall into a bottomless pit surrounded by cackling witches. I'd call them a weirder, more DIY version of Screaming Females.

-Arc Flash - "Black Market Time Tech"
Arc Flash is a band at the top of my "local bands I need to see live" list. This out-of-control Lawrence duo plays a fast, catchy, even surfy at times, style of punk while dressed as wizards or time travelers or something. Lots of weird shit going on here and I think seeing them live will help. Their song "Titan" is the bee's knees.

-Alexander Preston - "Magic"
Alexander Preston is an up and coming hip-hop producer from the Kansas City area. His EP of five futuristic and grandiose beats beg to be freestyled over but can definitely stand alone and be vibed to on their own merit. I'm very eager to see if Preston collaborates with some young local rappers on the comeup in the coming year.

-Bennett Weaver - "Seven Steps To Hell"
When he's not busy trying to pay rent or playing with two different punk bands, Bennett Weaver spends his time writing songs for himself to play. The EP was recorded while Weaver was still off at boarding school early on in the year, before his grand return to the Show Me State. The songs range from folk punk to easygoing acoustic pop and "Kansas City (A Blues Song)" is a much more listenable alternative to The New Basement Tapes' "Kansas City." (Seriously, how awful is Marcus Mumford?).

Honorable Mentions

-Berwanger - "Demonios"
-Young Bull - "Demo"
-Dom Chronicles - "Free Food"
-M.A.D. - "Demo"
-Heidi Lynn Gluck - "The Only Girl In The Room"
-Duncan Burnett - "Soulcially Conscious"
-Rat Bastard - "Me Ves Y Sufres"
-Psychic Heat - "Lighter and Brighter"
-Killakee Kat - "Psychopath"
-Toughies - "Tough Enough"
-Kathryn King - "This Is Home"
-Bluehealer - "Demo"
-Tongues - "EP"

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