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"album review "keys to the building""

Review :: Architects, "Keys to the Building"
By Richard Gintowt (Contact)
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Gadjits have finally delivered their great rock and roll album. Only problem - they're no longer The Gadjits. Heck, they're barely even Architects.

In 10 short years, the Phillips brothers - Brandon, Zach and Adam - have matured from a youthful ska band (The Gadjits) to fire-and-brimstone-fueled rock revivalists. They've been signed and subsequently dropped from two labels that could have broken their career open - Hellcat (owned by Rancid's Tim Armstrong) and RCA (owned by Clive Davis, the man behind Barry Manilow and Puff Daddy) - and each time rebounded with material that dwarfed anything they'd done previously.

"Keys to the Building" should have been The Gadjits' breakthrough album with RCA. Instead, it's just another great album that will probably be overlooked on account of the limited resources of its hometown indie label (Kansas City's Anodyne Records, also home to Overstep and Dirtnap).

"Keys To The Building" MP3s
"Damn Sight Better"
"Black Guitar Kalashnikov"
"Heat Shield"
More on Architects

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its release, "Keys to the Building" sounds like a major label release. It's hard to imagine Gilby Clarke doing much better than the gigantic rock sound afforded by KC's Berry Music Studios and producer John Seymour. This polish was sorely lacking on The Gadjits' previous album, "Today Is My Day," and pays dividends from the get go.

"Keys to the Building" was recorded during a time of transition for the band - keyboardist Ehren Starks was quitting and former Anniversary keyboardist/vocalist Adrianne Verhoeven was joining (she has since left the band). Both are listed as "additional players" but it's unclear who made the larger contribution.

The nagging personnel issues did little to affect the album's remarkable continuity and sense of urgency. Each song sounds like a last-ditch effort to save a music career seemingly veering on the edge of collapse. Lead singer Brandon Phillips abuses what's left of his tour-addled throat to deliver some fine performances, and the rhythm section of Adam and Zack Phillips locks in with Zeppelin-esque precision.

While "Keys to the Building" will most likely invite comparisons to rock revivalist contemporaries like The Mooney Suzuki and (ugh) Jet, the album's uplifting and soulful sound is more in tune with the The Black Crowes or even (gasp!) Creedence Clearwater Revival. Where "Today is My Day" sounded more like a band mainlining its influences, "Keys to the Building" is the sound of a band reshaping its influences into something very much its own.

The album's ten songs are less notable as singles than a coherent unit. Each is infused with an equal amount of hard-earned sweat, and each has the potential to absolutely bring the house down live. The icing on the cake is the album's closer - "Day of My Relief." Accompanied by a gospel choir and a majestic grand piano, Brandon Phillips exorcises all the ghosts of his band's past: "Day of my relief / Sure to come."

Fans that lost interest in The Gadjits when they shifted to rock and roll should have no problem dismissing "Keys to the Building" as a continuance of the band's cheesy classic rock rehashing. But those who held their breathe after witnessing the band's cathartic live shows finally have proof of just what makes these Gadjits - er, Architects - so unbreakable.


"album review "keys to the building""

The Architects

Keys to the Building
While the blonde farm boys of Hanson were having their few minutes in the spotlight, another band of brothers were striking it out. The Phillips brothers, who squirmed at being compared to the other family effort out there, formed the Gidjits, becoming the doe-eyed darlings of summer punk concerts for a few years.

Now that puberty has come and gone -- as well as the band's keyboardist - they've decided to change the name and the tone of their band. While ditching a well-established band name seems like a strange move, the name The Architects is infinitely more fitting.

Instead of returning to their punk roots, the band explores '60s soul and the blues with deep-throated bravado. Each song is intricately crafted and layered, planned out and added on to like an ornate building. "Brave New Girl" best displays the group's dedication to detailed lyrics and dynamic guitar work. The band seems to put everything they have into their lyrics and music, often abandoning the chorus they started with and paving a new direction halfway into songs.

While I would like to see them become comfortable with a few more simplistic tunes, they certainly prove themselves as evolving musicians. So significant is their talent that the whole "brothers in a band" gimmick hardly seems worth mentioning.
--Adrienne Urbanski
- kitty magik

"live review oct. 2004"

Home Improvement
After a little remodeling, the Architects have a new lease on life.
By Nathan Dinsdale

Published: Thursday, October 28, 2004

Read the Time-Life build-your-own-mansion-out-of-Popsicle-sticks series. Ask Martha Stewart -- during visitation hours -- for her advice in exchange for a carton of Pall Malls. Slip a roofie in Bob Vila's mojito and have your way with his brain. They'll tell you.

The foundation is the most important thing.

You dig the hole. Level the ground. Pour the cement. Let it dry -- but not before leaving a handprint and a scrawled "Van Halen Rulez!" on the stiffening concrete -- and then you can start to build.

Nobody knows this irrefutable truth better than the Architects.

They've spent the better part of the past decade laying down their foundation as the Gadgits, one of the most successful bands in recent Kansas City history. The Gadgits survived the years, going through various musical permutations, signing to and then being dropped from a sizable label (Hellcat/Epitaph). It seemed the only things that would survive a nuclear holocaust were Hostess snacks and the Gadgits.

And then the Gadgits died.

The band's demise was facilitated by the departure of keyboardist Ehren Starks earlier this year, but it was hardly a sudden meltdown. I was a witness to one of the band's last local shows, at the Bottleneck just over a year ago, and it was apparent to me then that the group was much closer to fading away than to flaming out. The band was a beaten horse that needed to die if its members had any real hope of living again.

They needed to knock down some walls. Remodel the living room. Repaint the bathroom. Reshingle the roof.

But leave the foundation. And that's what Starks allowed the Phillips brothers -- Brandon (singer and guitarist), Zach (bassist) and Adam (drummer) -- and guitarist Mike Alexander to do when he departed.

The group rechristened itself the Architects. But the former Gadjits needed more than a crafty name change to take advantage of their new lease on life. Last week the band officially showed that it was ready to settle in its new surroundings when the it released its debut, Keys to the Building.

The album is a significant if not entirely drastic shift for the band. But is it enough? Will the Architects be seen as merely the Gadgits by any other name? Maybe. But the band members clearly seemed to exhibit renewed vigor when they climbed onstage at the Brick for their CD-release performance on October 22.

"This is like finding money in the street," a sweaty, beaming Brandon Phillips gushed midset. "God bless you, Kansas City."

The Architects were a little rusty, a little out of shape. But as they panted and convulsed across the stage and their music roared and reverberated into the early morning tumult, they seemed right at home.

- the pitch

"live review may 05"

We don’t need no stinkin’ culture when there’s skateboards, beer and rock and roll.
By Jason Harper

Published: Thursday, May 5, 2005

The Pitch has been accused more than once of trying to sell the idea that Kansas City has culture. The charge is usually leveled at us by people, many of them young and burned out, who came of age here and are tired of all the clubs and galleries, bored with the fountains and boulevards, sick of the Overland Park bourgeoisie, jaded by the Lawrence hipster scene, alienated by the largish cliques that patrol the bars and online message boards and throw themselves self-congratulatory parties in the West Bottoms, and fed up with having their car windows smashed by junkies. Most of these people want to move to New York City but can't afford to, even without the credit-card debt that keeps them working their not-so-bad jobs.

A new word has elbowed its bastardly way into the vernacular for this type of person: hater. But does it apply to KC detractors? A hater, unlike someone who simply dislikes something atrocious, like conservatism, is, in fact, a discontent, a contrarian. Haters, by contrast, "hate on" things that may otherwise be considered hip. For example, someone who doesn't like mainstream country singer Tim McGraw doesn't qualify; nobody with any taste likes Tim McGraw. But someone who dislikes Kelly Clarkson is definitely a hater, because that rockin' American Idol alum, who can't dance and doesn't show cleavage but wails like a beast, is near the top of a lot of people's guilty-pleasures list.

So, do people who espouse the above-mentioned attitudes about Kansas City qualify as haters? To put it another way, does anybody really even love Kansas City?

When out and about, I've noticed that natives -- or, for that matter, anyone who's been here longer than I have -- proclaim that the reason any given concert or club party is fun is because it made them "almost forget" that they were in Kansas City. And what makes me so uncool by comparison is that these situations actually remind me that I'm in Kansas City. In a few years and after a few more trips to New York, I may become like the malcontents. But for the moment, at least, I have very good company in at least one fellow transplanted Kansas Citian, the venerable Miles Bonny of SoundsGood.

"I like chillin' in Kansas City," the New Jersey-born Bonny told me at a recent event, the nature of which will become clear momentarily. "There's a lot less ego here. The West Coast is too lightweight, and the East Coast is too heavy in terms of attitude." Though he intends to make KC his home long term, Bonny said, he'll take a sabbatical in September to make some industry connections in New York for a few months.

I had run into Bonny near the bar at Jilly's last Tuesday, where Zach "Lovely" Wilson, owner of Lovely Skateboards, was holding bacchanals to celebrate his third year in business. And I can assure you, there wasn't a hater in sight.

First of all, none could have withstood the balls-out assault of the sole band playing the party. The Architects is a four-piece that understands that rock is not simply four chords and the truth; it's pomp, volume, fire and however many chords it takes to get these three essentials across (not that many, usually). All of the Architects were in the Gadjits throughout their teenage years -- Brandon Phillips (who belts like a James Brown Jr. ), his brothers Adam and Zach, and Mike Alexander, the only guitarist in town who can pull off the Pete Townshend windmill-arm-and-spread-eagle stance and look like that's how he learned to play.

Anyway, they fuckin' rocked, as several members of the audience saw fit to point out numerous times, enacting the second antidote to haterism: any oratorical use of the f-word in some enthusiastic, amplified exclamation. One of the proclaimers was Chris Binge of 816 Skateboards, who, after the second Architects song, walked up to the mike and announced, "That's fuckin' rock and roll, you bitch-ass motherfuckers!"

Several declarations from Binge and colleague Tom Wyker followed, delivered on Brandon's mike between songs and prompting the comment from the singer, "It's like VH1 Storytellers."

1 2 NEXTHater Hater

As the Architects tore down the house, Binge and Wyker, clad in commemorative Lovely shirts (also with the word motherfucker emblazoned on them), continued to live up to their rep as rude boys of the skate scene, spilling beer all over themselves and the floor and shouting incoherent party calls, the last of which, by Wyker, was rather creepy: "Kill the person standing next to you. Kill the person standing next to you."

"I love how quickly they can turn it from an Architects show to an 816 show," Bonny said. "If nothing else, it's a testament to how much fun they're having," he added good-naturedly.

After the show, I approached Lovely and attempted to ask him what the connection was between skateboarding and live - pitch


"keys to the building" LP out on Anodyne records. Produced by john seymor
College and Spec. playing "Heat shield" and "Sixty Eight Gold". Streams on:,,,


Feeling a bit camera shy



Brandon Phillips – vocals/ guitar
Zack Phillips – bass
Adam Phillips – drums
Mike Alexander – guitar

It’s rumored that Architects, with an average age of twentysomething, have the combined experience of more than four decades of living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. In a world of manufactured rap rock and glossy teen pop, they have emerged from their van fully formed, ready to give audiences nothing less than the essence of rock ‘n roll, sans clichés. f

These modern-day musical heroes take the stage with a singular mission: to deliver salvation in the form of pure garage rock with the intensity of punk and the joy and release of 60s-era soul. On their first record, Keys To The Building, Architects capture a raw hard-edged groove that lacks nothing except the sweat and heat of their live show.

From the hard-hitting onslaught of the first track, “Heat Shield,” Keys to the Building vibrates with the talents of the foursome that make up the band. Wound tighter than a gambler on a hot streak, brothers Brandon, Zack and Adam Phillips hold forth on vocals/ guitar, bass and drums, respectively. Zack and Adam drive a roadhouse beat that’s a force to be reckoned with, perfectly matched by Brandon’s whiskey and cigarette soaked wail. Completing the guitar assault is Mike Alexander, whose gritty lines add another layer to an already formidable wall of sound.

Keys to the Building packs a blues-tinged wallop that ranges from revolutionary-style declarations of love in “Black Guitar Kalashnikov,” the simmering swagger of “Walkin Talkin Jesus,” to the rock ‘n roll working man testimonial on “Shine.” By the time the gospel choir sings on “Day of My Relief,” the listener has already found redemption in Architects’ power chord glory.

The myth-like beginning of this contemporary reincarnation of rock ‘n soul took place in the early 90s in a basement in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood. There, the three young Phillips brothers, pre-teens all, started their musical education. The threesome became The Gadjits and the punk-ska circuit served as their high school. The prolific kids released four albums, continuing their study of bands like The Who, AC/DC, The Stones, The Dwarves, The Standells and The Sonics, earning extra credit for life on the road with the likes of Rancid and the Warped Tour. With this rich history as source material and the addition of Alexander (formerly of The Revolvers), the band began aiming for a sound that was as true to their instincts as their patron saints of rock ‘n roll were to their own spirits.

In their final transformation as Architects, we hear a band willing to summon all the passion, intensity, and earnestness required to make the audience feel; to open a vein for them if necessary. By tapping into the ongoing creative power of rock ‘n roll, Architects are designing their own destiny.

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