It wasn't all that long ago that first cousins Ben Grimes and Ryan Shank began jamming together in grade school. Now they're all grown up, and they have tattoos, sweet equipment, a professionally shot music video and a deal with Astralwerks, one of the best labels around. Oh, and they also have a totally rad computer game on the label's Web site that lets you launch objects out the window of a trashed hotel room and onto tourists (who die bloodily) while the rockin' single "You Almost Had It" wails in the background. What may be most amazing, though, is the way the Golden Republic, a pretty much straight-ahead rock band, has transcended the mainstream-versus-indie debate. The group has sold records to hit-gobbling tweens, but it has also had significant airtime on the nation's top online radio stations, namely Oxford, Ohio's WOXY and KCRW in Santa Monica, California, where TGR did a live session in a studio that typically invites only froufrou buzz bands from places like Montreal and Williamsburg. In the fickle gaze of modern music, it's hard to think of a more worthy band to stand for Kansas City than the Golden Republic.