With the summer approaching, you may find yourself looking to listen to some great tunes. Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest hosted some up-and-coming bands that are worth checking out. Curated by The Record Machine, a Kansas City record label, the fifth annual Fest was held in Kansas City and featured over one hundred artists April 22-25. Here are our recommendations of one artist from each day of the four-day music portion of the Fest.
Wednesday, April 22: The Noise FM
An Indie-rock band from Lawrence, Kansas, The Noise FM consists of two brothers, Alex and Austin, along with Barry Ray Kidd, who plays bass “because of his rad name.”
Their first album, “Dream of the Attack,” was released during 2008, and their most recent album, “Attraction,” was released during 2014 after their move to Chicago. “Dream of the Attack” was written in the basement of a house they rented, otherwise known as the “vintage mansion” –– or more accurately, a “fire hazard” ––while attending school in Lawrence, Kansas. .
“Things have gotten better,” Alex said.
Noise FM’s music features energetic beats that are easy to dance to as well as some quieter smooth tones. The band describes their music as “a mix of synthy indie-rock and dance beats.” Listen to “Attraction” at thenoisefm.bandcamp.com and find more information about their music, shows and merchandise at thenoisefm.net.
Thursday, April 23: Strand of Oaks
Folk-rock singer and songwriter Timothy Showalter looks to his own experiences for inspiration, making his music personal and relatable.
His most recent album, “HEAL,” is representative of Showalter’s philosophy that music has a healing quality. The track “Heal” has a high-energy beat that at first seems to be disconnected with the title of the song. As stated on his website, strandofoaks.net, Showalter explains that the song is not a typical soft melody of healing but rather describes it as “scream therapy.”
What makes Showalter’s music so relatable is the imagery evoked by his lyrics. “HEAL” begins with the song “Goshen ’97,” as “we find him in his family’s basement den in Goshen, Indiana, feeling alienated but even at 15 years old, believing in the alchemy and power of music to heal your troubles,” according to his website.
Friday, April 24: Katy Guillen and the Girls
This rocking trio originated in Kansas City, Missouri with roots in blues, classic rock and folk, forming a distinctive, ballad-like sound because of the three artists’ diverse musical backgrounds.
With Katy Guillen on vocals, Claire Adams on bass and Stephanie Williams on drums, the group has a blues-influenced rock sound with strong beats and soulful vocals sure to have you singing along. Their multi-genre style makes them, in their own words, “known for packing blues-and-BBQ roadhouses as well as they fill up a multi-bill alternative venue.”
Their first album, self-titled, was released in September 2014 and the group was awarded Best Emerging Artist at The Pitch’s 2014 Music Awards in Kansas City. Aside from playing at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, Katy Guillen and the Girls are also planning to perform at several locations across the US and in November will be performing in Sweden. Check out their new album and find more information about their upcoming performances at kgandthegirls.com.
Saturday, April 25: The Invisible World
This alternative rock band, once named A Dead Giveaway, recently released a new EP representative of their new name and sound called “Welcome to The Invisible World.” Since forming in 2012, the band has released two EPs.
Besides experimenting with a new genre, The Invisible World has also tried its hand at film with the short film for its song “Cars.” The video was crowd-funded and was officially selected for the 2014 Interfilm Berlin Film Festival.
The album “Welcome to the Invisible World” is a compilation of five of their top tracks. Their songs feature clear, powerful vocals and thoughtful lyrics. The band plans to release its next album in mid-2015. Until then, listen to “Welcome to the Invisible World” at welcometotheinvisibleworld.com or visit them on Facebook.
This is just a small taste of the variety of artists who preformed at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest. Find the complete list of artists at middleofthemapfest.com.