With members in Kansas City and various California locales, The Hearers don't have the luxury of building up a grassroots following by playing local shows every month. That's all the more reason to catch them during their infrequent KC-area mini tours, which showcase an 8-10 member band playing mellowed-out Americana with pedal steel, banjo, acoustic guitar, keys and sparse drumming. The group's evocative, slow-building tunes recall singer Darren Welch's other project In the Pines as well as slowcore Americana acts like South San Gabriel or Idaho.From the home studio of a tiny two-bedroom apartment at 11th and Tennessee to local stages, Ample Branches has grown into one of Lawrence's brightest new bands during the course of a busy year. The group's 16-song debut "True Vine" merits an honorary degree from the academy of innovative home recording-it would be "lo-fi" if only if weren't so well produced. Fans of homespun indie bands like The Microphones, The Books and Animal Collective will dig the collection immediately, but its more populist touchstones-The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Sufjan Stevens-lend "True Vine" an across-the-universe appeal.
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