The grade (6.9/10) doesn't match the writer's comments, which are positive and a few dozen watts short of glowing in some places. These days, one review neither makes nor breaks any album. But viral momentum (or the lack of it) can. So read about "Tragic Boogie" by the Life and Times of the KCMO. Even better, listen and then buy. And then spread the word. For a second opinion, read what we said about "Boogie" a few weeks ago:
“Tragic Boogie” opens with a clarion call, the transcendent arena rock of “Que Sera Sera.” If you were only half-listening from the next room, you might mistake the track for some weird conjugal collision between Oasis and Radiohead.
Welcome to the latest chapter in the music career of Allen Epley, who does nothing simply or expectedly; he is driven by artistic impulses that are his greatest virtue. They would be his curse, too, if he designed his music to be mainstream and commercially successful.
Instead, he writes — composes, really — rock songs that exercise his intellectual and emotional intimacy with music and music theory and with the electric guitar. In his former band, Shiner, the results were often as complicated and imposing as they were exciting and satisfying. At Shiner shows, you could almost see some fans trying to compute those figures in their heads.
In this band, the Life and Times, he restrains indulgences in formulas and time signatures that are composed and calculated to impress those who can compute the arithmetic and to dazzle those who can’t. Instead, this is a band that navigates the trickiest of processes and feats: It delivers both the unexpected and the familiar. Songs go in directions that aren’t foreseen but that feel natural and comfortable, once you reach their destinations.
The “style,” if there is one, is a mix of the math-rock that made Shiner cult heroes; some shimmery shoe-gazing alt-rock (My Bloody Valentine); and other bits and traits that reflect and convey Epley’s vast interest in so many kinds of music. There are plenty of hooks and riffs here, and melodies that you can follow and sing along to.
Things get heavy and dark (“Old Souls”); things get light and shiny (“Dull Knives”), even a little cosmic at times, and things get wild and exhilarating, too, like on “Confetti,” which sounds like the Foo Fighters took a post-grad seminar in theory and composition. And don’t sleep on the instrumental interludes, which deliver some sweetness and punch, usually in three minutes or less.
“Boogie,” which comes out Tuesday on Arena Rock Records, is the proper full-length follow-up to L&T’s superb debut, “Suburban Hymns.” The band is out on the road now, showing off the live versions of the new tunes. Last month at SXSW in Austin, in front of lots of Shiner/L&T devotees, those songs sounded awesome and got great responses. Will they deliver Epley from his world of cult heroism? We can only wish. You know: Whatever will be, will be.