Before Lawrence musician Taryn Blake Miller boarded a plane to Paris on Friday, she was celebrating an upcoming album release. She spent this summer recording her second album, Gumption, on Domino Records in New York City, with a host of local musicians by her side (including Chris Luxem and drummer Nicholas Stahl). Producer Nicolas Vernhes (who has worked with The War on Drugs and Deerhunter) helped Miller craft her rich, textural sound at the Rare Book Room in Brooklyn. Her reflective nature shines through the eight tracks on the album, and confronts the listener with the self-awareness Miller has been concentrating on over the past two years.
With this beautiful set of songs set to come out on Kansas Day (Jan. 29), and a number of overseas workshops (through Red Bull Academy) and performances in her future, Miller excitedly headed off to Paris last week.
"It's still a surreal feeling to have had the opportunity to make this record with Nicolas Vernhes and alongside my close friends," she posted to her Instagram account before she left. "Our last day of tracking even landed on my birthday." She posted the new single to her Facebook page (you can listen to "Heathering" below) and settled in for the flight.
But while Miller was in the air, a horrific scene was playing out across the City of Lights. A series of coordinated terrorist attacks that would leave more than 100 people dead shook the heart of Paris. A majority of the attack was carried out at a concert featuring a U.S. band. Immediately, Miller's friends and fans started frantically messaging her.
Miller was able to use a Facebook feature to mark herself as "safe" after the Paris Terror Attacks. Red Bull Music Academy also took precautions, canceling any shows they had scheduled until Thursday. So for now, she is marching forward with her work.
Miller will play a few European dates in December before heading back to Lawrence to celebrate the release of Gumption, which will come out on CD and standard LP on Domino.
We know what it's like to "heart local music," but Something and the Whatevers may have outdone us this time.
Something and the Whatevers has never kept their love for local bands a secret. The band's guitarist even hosts KJHK's local music show "Plow the Fields" on 90.7 FM. But this Thursday, they're putting that local love in the spotlight with a set consisting entirely of songs by other local bands.
Their set is part of a covers show at the Replay. Me Like Bees will cover The White Stripes, which makes perfect sense seeing as how the frontman's voice is a dead ringer for Jack White's. The show will be headlined by an LCD Soundsystem Tribute featuring members of The Noise FM, Bonzo Madrid, and Blane Fonda.
But it's Something and the Whatevers' set that grabbed our attention. Songs by beloved Lawrence and Kansas City bands — including Major Games, Your Friend, and The ACBs — will make an appearance. They've covered local bands before, including The Sluts, Dean Monkey and the Dropouts, and La Guerre. Their La Guerre cover was particularly impressive because it required one of the singers' voice to reach heights only attainable by Katlyn Conroy.
That's something folks tend to forget about Something and the Whatevers. They may seem like a silly, loud band on the surface. But underneath is some highly impressive musical skill. Instead of hearing obnoxious shouting from the keyboard player, look down at his hands and see how swiftly they fly up and down the keys while messing with settings on the laptop. He also had to program "Tiny G," the robot they tout at all their shows now. The guitarist should also grab your attention. Look past the comical lyrics and you'll see a proficient guitarist with pitch perfect vocals.
You can watch these accomplished musicians in action when they play songs written by other Lawrence bands starting at 9 p.m. Thursday at the Replay