Record Store Day Preview Part 6: Kosmic City
Cavern Sound was a premiere recording studio in the late 60s and early 70s. The Independence based studio was situated in the caves of Pixley Quarry. The solid rock provided an excellent space to capture sound–from the classic twang of Midwestern country, to the earliest iterations of psych pop, to James Brown‘s early 70s recordings. The result is six years of an era documented in sound.
Earlier, in late 2014, Numero Group dug up the studio’s remains and put out a compilation album full of buzzy Kansas City gold, titled Local Customs: Cavern Sound. The songs ranged from Pretty’s (above) analog-fuzz saturated riff on early psych rock to The Reaction’s twitchy country rock.
The compilation is 24 near hits that blister through their hooks and melodies. Local Customs: Cavern Sounds can find a home in any audiophile’s music library. And this Record Store Day, Numero Group delves deeper into the studio’s cuts to bring out another compilation, Lows in The Mid Sixties, Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2.
The 14 song compilation features bands whose days have come and gone, leaving them in a rough type of obscurity. Rather than jump through the various styles Cavern Sound recorded and represented, Lows in The Mid Sixties, Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2 stays pretty straightforward with its bubbling pop. All of the tracks are covers. But each burns with its unique take on the track–coupled with Cavern Sound’s warm sound.
More so than a collection of artists that will eventually have done brilliant things or rare songs that have never been heard, this compilation seems more a cultural object, a record of Kansas City’s musical history. The bands that make up the album seem to have barely “mustered a session of cover tunes” and no singles. That said, their constant accrual acts as a time capsule, taking the listener back to the era after The Beatles had begun to make American teens swoon. To me, it sounds like the era’s best radio station, playing its best songs back to back.
Lows in The Mid Sixties, Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2 connects the bands not just through their relative obscurity but also through the wonderful sound Cavern Sound brings to the recordings. Every track has a tube-warmth and depth to its vibrations that is almost impossible to recreate through digital equipment. The sound is everything good from the late 60s/early 70s–wavy distortion, droning tenor, and punchy drums.
While the songs themselves might not be what has been lingered from those years to now, Lows in The Mid Sixties, Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2 chronicles an important era in Kansas City’s past as well as scraps together bits of gold from bands that may have otherwise passed into complete obscurity. The collection will surely be a great addition to any music library (as are all the Record Store Day exclusives) and a new way to take pride in Kansas City past and present.