Hey, listen up. I've been meaning to rave about Soft Reeds ever since I saw the newly revived local band play in late August at the Record Bar with Audiovox. Hardly anyone was there, but the Reeds were righteously on point with a set that kicked glam rock and prog pop into a mop bucket and sloshed the mixture all over the PA.
The group is fronted by Ben Grimes, formerly of the Golden Republic, a band whose rise and fall has been well documented. (And for those just joining us from prison in Siberia, Grimes' former TGR band mate, Kenn Jankowski, went on to form the Republic Tigers.) Soft Reeds was first established in KC back in '07. In November of that year, Grimes moved to Nashville. He kept writing songs for/as Soft Reeds, but Nashville life wasn't working out, so he and his wife and their two children moved back to Kansas City this past summer.
Back in the Spring, Soft Reeds released a free downloadable three-song EP, which is still up -- and totally worth grabbing. The slinky, analog-humpin' "This Affair" sounds like the itchy, hungover aftermath to Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug." Track three, "Thick of Thin Things" also sounds glamorously downtrodden, with Grimes' gorgeous, descending vocal line tumbling over a sparse backbeat like a still-thirsty drunk staggering down the sidewalk after the bar's closed.
Also on the EP is Grimes' version of "Buildings & Mountains," which, of course, most of the world knows because of the Republic Tigers. The Soft Reeds version is a bit darker, with that rusty, vintage-analog sheen that coats the rest of the EP. When Grimes & co. rolled the song out that Friday night in August at the Record Bar, several friends wondered, well ... why?
Because who needs another version of a song everyone's heard the Tigers play a hundred times, right? Honestly, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, either, until I'd heard the new Soft Reeds material, which is totally solid. Plus, I know that the song carries a lot of personal meaning for its various composers, and if they wanna sing it at their respective shows, who are we to stand in their way?
That night, in addition to "Buildings," older tunes in the set included Golden Republic songs "Great Communication" and "Hemel Dalingen" (which appeared only on the OxBlood First Blood comp). The rest of the songs were new, and I can't wait to hear them when they're committed to record later this year, if all goes according to Grimes' plan.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about this band is that for this latest Soft Reeds lineup, Grimes has surrounded himself with secret-weapon-type players from outside the midtown scene -- talented dudes who, despite being musicians who are (1) close to Ben's age and (2) residents of this town, are essentially making their midtown debut. Grimes spoke highly of his keyboardist and backup singer, Jordan Johnson; and the bassist, Phil, was in an LA-based hardcore Christian band called the Dog and Pony Show. But that's about all I got. The rest are mystery-man badasses.
Catch Soft Reeds this Saturday, October 3, at the Back Yard at the Beaumont, where rumors of dry rot were apparently exaggerated. It's a Gnarly Production, it's all ages, and the lineup is fresh: Thommy Hoskins, Max Justus and the elusive Thieves.
If you can't make it out Saturday, just keep 'em on your list. Trust me. Grimes may not be new to the scene, but these new Reeds of his are sounding sweet.