The Grisly Hand
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The Grisly Hand

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF
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"The Grisly Hand"

Western Avenue EP
(self-released)

Context: A four-song EP of backwoods boot-stompers from the folk-rock darlings

Highlight: The title track, with its buoyant vocal harmonies and Waylon Jennings echoes ("The Wurlitzer Prize," especially), is the finest song the Grisly Hand has recorded to date.

Conclusion: "Black Coffee," a clattering old-timey Americana tune, is the only other new song on Western Avenue. Half the EP is, thus, covers: a soulful, twangy version of Radiohead's "Been Thinking About You" and a faithful tribute to "Still Feeling Blue" by Gram Parsons. More originals, please. - The Pitch


"Local music review: The Grisly Hand, ‘Western Ave.’ EP"

n and around Kansas City the last couple of years, it’s been pretty hard to miss the presence of the Grisly Hand. Few bands have had adulation heaped on so quickly and thoroughly as this band has since its inception in 2009. To be fair, they deserve it. The band’s new “Western Ave.” EP is so good that it should be standard issue for local music fans.

It’s one thing for a band to keep a genre so tried and true as the country/Americana idiom fresh and exciting. It’s another thing entirely for a country/Americana band to not only cover Radiohead, but quite arguably do one better than Thom Yorke and company.

The Grisly Hand’s “Thinking About You” brings something just a bit earthier, and frankly a bit more honest, to the feel of one of the better tracks from Radiohead’s early back catalog, and it’s stunning. More tellingly, though, is that it’s not even the best track on the “Western Ave.” EP.

The other cover among the four tracks on the EP, Gram Parsons’ “Still Feeling Blue,” may be a bit more predictable given the genre, but it is also flat-out great. But the two best songs on the EP are the band’s originals.

The title track is the kind of song one may find oneself singing along to before the first listen is over. The vocal harmonies near the end of the track are somewhat reminiscent of Fleet Foxes but somehow again earthier and, though it’s a bit difficult to qualify, to say more “blue-collar” or even “Midwestern” doesn’t quite explain but is probably close enough.

At any rate, it’s a gorgeous song with a lot of heart. The closing track, “Black Coffee,” is maybe a bit more in line with both genre expectations and with the band’s whiskey-soaked reputation as one of the most fun live acts around town and may remind some listeners of days back when one might catch the Kemps and the Wilders at Davey’s opening for Trouble in Mind on a packed Friday night. For those who weren’t around then, that’s to say that it’s fun, smart country and not to be missed.

It’s worth noting that, brilliant performances aside, the “Western Ave.” EP is presented beautifully, with clean and clear but cozy production from Cosgrove Audio and some of the best mastering astute listeners and/or audio geeks may have encountered in some time from Weights and Measures. The “Western Ave.” EP sets a high bar for local music this year, and it’s pretty damned hard not to feel KC proud after hearing it. - INK KC


"10 Missouri Bands You Should Listen To Now"

The Grisly Hand does alternative country right with Western Ave. EP. Lauren Krum’s sultry vocals and slight country twang are highlighted by a group of talented musicians that include a mandolin, lap steel guitar and fiddle in their arsenal of instruments. - Paste Magazine


"i’m just gonna sit all this here for you"

From a recent and totally badass piece at Paste highlighting Missouri bands you must hear comes The Grisly Hand. Home state, REPRESENT! How nice it was to find a band that’s not just not awful but also happens to be totally fucking rad. - FOLK HIVE


"The Grisly Hand -- Western Ave. EP"

In the age of the Internet-fueled music and fandom, is it fair to say that music is still dictated by the region it comes from? Now that our country is paved over with pre-fab suburbs and increasingly Disney-fied downtown districts, I often wonder if it's possible (or even important) to maintain regional distinctions.

The Grisly Hand is proud of its Midwestern roots. And though I imagine that Kansas City, MO is a proper city (or at least as proper as any city that isn't New York can be), it's not difficult to hear the swaying of wheat in the breeze in the rhythm on "Western Ave." "Still Feelin' Blue" is a regular old barnstomper. "Black Coffee" is a rollicking drinking song (because that's the only thing to do out there, right?)

The four songs on this EP pack a huge punch. I look forward to a time when The Grisly Hand can bring the Midwest to the rest of the country. - Adobe and Teardrops


"The Grisly Hand - Safe House Review"

Advocating that a band record live rather than take advantage of all that a studio has to offer is a bit like telling your girlfriend that you like her better without makeup. But I'm about to be that boyfriend: I love you, Grisly Hand, but I like you better when you're a little less done up. By now, critics — including The Pitch — have fawned enough over the Grisly Hand to suggest an unconditional love. The band burst onto Kansas City's music scene in 2009 with a strain of modern country-folk that sounded like punk kids with banjos and an Etsy store — barroom stomps with the backwater fervor of a tent revival. And now comes the long-awaited debut, Safe House, to offer up a smooth hunk of Americana. But without Lauren Krum and Jimmy Fitzner's lively stage banter to breathe DIY vitality into the set, Safe House's extended harmonies grate after a while, making the six-track album seem much longer than it actually is (a spare 26 minutes and change). Any song longer than four minutes distorts the Grisly Hand's charm, stretching a joyful romp into a strained smile. That's a shame, given the band's stellar live shows and a lineup studded with talent (Kian Byrne, Ben Summers, Mike Tuley, John Nichols and Charles Snyder, in addition to Krum and Fitzner.) Not that Safe House isn't a perfectly delightful display of local tuneage; it is. It's just a little less lovely than we expected. So strip off that professional recording, guys — you're more beautiful in the flesh. - The Pitch


"The Pitch honors local musicians at the 2010 Music Showcase Awards"

Ad Astra Arkestra was missing something — someone.


Forester Michael
Les Izmore shakes it with Bleach Bloodz.
Details
The Winners

>
Punk: Bent Left
Indie Rock: The Noise FM
Metal: Hammerlord
Blues: Samantha Fish
Jazz - Solo Artist: Mark Lowrey
Jazz - Ensemble: Snuff Jazz
Garage Rock: Bleach Bloodz
Country/Bluegrass: The Last Call Girls
Hip-Hop: Stik Figa
DJ - Hip-Hop: Miles Bonny
DJ - Dance: Nomathmatics
Rap: Rich the Factor
Singer-Songwriter: Noah Earle
World: Son Venezuela
Folk/Americana: The Grisly Hand
Reggae: SeedLove
Experimental: Ad Astra Arkestra
Indie Pop: Cowboy Indian Bear
Emerging Act: Margo May
Rock: Federation of Horsepower
Pop: Audiovox
All Stars: The Architects

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More About
Hermon MehariDavid Wayne ReedHoward IcebergCharlie ParkerArts, Entertainment, and Media
Under the bright lights of the Uptown Theater, the band accepted its Best Experimental award at The Pitch Music Awards ceremony Sunday night. There was someone the band members wanted to thank.

Where was she?

"She's drunk!" a crowd member volunteered. "That's the right answer!" Mike Tuley roared into the mic. "We're all drunk!"

If there's an annual theme to The Pitch Music Awards — besides celebrating Kansas City's local music, that is — it's alcohol.

For a $20 VIP ticket, Kansas Citians scored the following: a free Pitch lighter (yes!), an open bar and the good company of drunken band kids. It was like a wedding without a bride to offend. You could smoke, cuss, show your tattoos, and repeatedly scream the names of Lawrence punk bands without consequences. (Weird Wounds, anyone?)

In addition to the undiluted but shitfaced local talent at the dozens of tables, the source of mayhem was the party's host, David Wayne Reed, who fulfilled his duties — awarding local artists in 22 categories — with increasing difficulty. (At one point, Reed insisted that he needed some "goddamned K-Y Jelly to get these envelopes open.") To give him a break, the Uptown's red-velvet curtains lifted four times at points throughout the night to reveal performances by Bleach Bloodz, Mark Lowrey with Diverse and Reach, the Grisly Hand, and the Dead Girls.

Let's start with the music. In a shuddering, shambling shakedown of rock and roll, Howard Iceberg and his guitar player, Gary Paredes (who pulled off an excellent scissors kick), cut loose next to Les Izmore on tambourine and the sunglasses-clad, bandanna-sporting boys of Bleach Bloodz. Who knew that Iceberg's tunes could sound like the Stones getting stoned and throwing down with the Ramones?

Before Mark Lowrey and Diverse eased into the ensemble's first number, trumpet player Hermon Mehari began the performance on a somber note. The Diverse leader quietly spoke about the death of local legend Ahmad Alaadeen the day before, who was, he said, "one of our last ties to Charlie Parker." (The jazz saxophonist took lessons from Leo H. Davis, who also taught Parker.) It was an eloquent, graceful gesture to honor Kansas City's musical history along with the jazz legend's memory.

Mehari blasted trumpet over Lowrey's piano and the crashing beats from Diverse's drummer, Ryan Lee. When Reach emerged from backstage to rap over the band's grooves, a throng of fans flocked to the front of the stage, bobbing palms to the rhythm.

The Grisly Hand struck a more introspective note with covers of the Rainmakers and Drakkar Sauna. Closing out the night: a face-melting fusion of local power pop emitted by the Dead Girls, who crammed songs by Vitreous Humor, Ultimate Fakebook and Kill Creek (along with their own tunes) into a mammoth medley of scene history.

The winners produced some memorable moments, too. Son Venezuela thanked The Pitch for its coverage of immigration issues, then staged an impromptu sing-along: I won't play no shows in Arizona, sang the band's leader, inciting the crowd to clap along. (The group has won nine awards but wanted one more — one for each member of the 10-piece.)

Samantha Fish wore a shiny, pink prom dress to accept her award in the Blues category. "I might be a little overdressed," she admitted shyly.

Dutch Newman accepted the Hip-Hop award for the absent hip-hop hero Stik Figa, and he gave shout-outs to all of the nominees — including, he said, "that cocksucker Dutch Newman."

Wearing Rasta hats, the men of SeedLove accepted their Pitch award and thanked The Pitch for the new rolling tray. (Man, you are more than welcome.)

The Noise FM toppled established Kansas City acts the Life and Times and the Appleseed Cast to win the Indie Rock category. They called it a perfect capstone to their Kansas City career: The band is moving to Chicago soon.

After Federation of Horsepower won the Rock category, Gregg Todt said, "I've been playing music in this town for 32 years, and this is the first time that I've ever received an award."

Margo May let us know that she's not a band, then thanked Led Zeppelin.

The Architects wiped the All Stars category toward the end of the night. Afterward, people stepped outside for a smoke, rockers mussed one another's hair, and winners' palms sweated as they clutched their new plastic plaques. Booze is booze, but local solidarity? That's something worth celebrating. - The Pitch


"Album Review -The Grisly Hand "Safe House" by A:42"

The Grisly Hand, winners of the 2010 Americana/Folk Pitch Award, released their debut album Safe House on vinyl and CD yesterday.

The first thing I have to say about The Grisly Hand is that you’ll like them if you appreciate vocals. I don’t just mean the ability to sing, but the ability to write songs around your particular talents. Lead vocalists Lauren Krum and Jimmy Fitzner, blend their individual idiosyncrasies into wild harmonies, rather than just doubling up on the same tune. Fitzner’s straightforward, colloquial tone resonates with such honesty you feel like he’s singing from inside your head, while Krum soulfully weaves a complementary key through the melody like the alto in a church choir.

The roster boasts some of the most capable musicians in the area. The rustic bent comes from Kian Byrne on fiddle, Ben Summers on mandolin and acoustic guitar, and Mike Tuley on banjo and keyboards. The rhythm section includes Johnny Nichols on bass and piano and Charles Snyder on drums, both of whom contribute vocals throughout the album. Fitzner also plays electric guitar, and Krum lends extra percussion. I’d list each member’s current and former bands, but I’d surpass my word count.

The quintessentially Midwestern storytelling on “Paris of the Plains,” kicks off the album. It’s an uptempo jaunt introducing you to The Grisly Hand’s brand of tough guitar and rhythm punctuated by Tuley’s pastoral banjo. It’s about leaving Kansas City for rural mid-Missouri to flee a failed romance, with questionable results. Everybody in the Midwest gets in GTFO-mode sometimes, if not perpetually, so it’s nice to hear someone say it might not solve anything. If you’re gonna do Americana in Kansas City, you might as well name-drop Branson and the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia while you’re at it, so they take care of that in this first number.

“Cherry Mash Waltz” is a misty-eyed ballad showcasing Krum’s gift for conveying a lonely bedroom sort of sorrow. It’s more in the category of solemn background music than it is an outright tear-jerker, though. This is your rainy day track. Your sleepy road trip track. If you’re a high schooler, this is your after-car-sex-under-the-stars-mixtape track. To me, it sounds like our singers are backed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience as they transition out of “The Wind Cries Mary” into a Mazzy Star cover.

Something about the fourth song, “The Distraction,” makes me think it belongs on The Adventures of Pete & Pete. If you anticipate country, I suppose that’s what you’ll hear. Personally, I think this song smacks of ’90s indie pop. The kind by one hit wonders with sweaters and shaggy hair on 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield. Fitzner’s plaintive sincerity accents lyrics that are perfect if you’re a nervous romantic who finds yourself “actin’ like a god damn fool” around whoever “The Distraction” happens to be in your life.

Krum’s chorus on “Good Wife” is solid to me just because she clearly alludes to Curtis Mayfield. It’s got a more aggressive, roadhouse feel. I’d throw a chair at a trucker to this song. The “thing” that Krum doesn’t want “put on” her is a conventional housewife role. “I don’t belong to anyone,” Fitzner chants, Cobain-style, behind Krum’s lung-busting soul. The vocals subside, and the band assumes an energetic round of solos. Commence redneck furniture toss. My only complaint is that Byrne’s fiddle finale makes you wonder why it took five songs to get to him.

After that countrified romp, the next title, “Pickin’,” sounded like the obligatory bluegrass-tinged song to hit you in the mouth with banjo and fiddle. Well, it is. I’m pretty sure this song is about a fight-or-flight response to a love/hate rollercoaster relationship. Except the fight response here involves threatening some brand of voodoo wizardry at the hands of a soul merchant. Lauren tells me it’s something to do with Santiago Durango of Naked Raygun and Big Black. “Wait ’til I tell Santi-Du,” they warn, “he’ll put a motherfuckin’ spell on you!” Damn… it’s like that?

Our farewell from Safe House, “Roll On, Little One,” builds layers of chorus atop a quaint mandolin melody. The tempo begins as a steady drum march mimicking the chugging along of a locomotive engine. It switches tracks in the final minute, and is broken down into plodding hammer-strikes, set to sparks by the friction of Snyder’s gritty wail. He’s not nearly as piraty (yes, pirate-like, add it to the dictionary) as Tom Waits, but he’s a good deal grislier, for lack of a better word, than your average Springsteen. As he howls “I’ll still be lonesome, at least you’ll be gone,” Safe House closes with the feeling of comfort that comes from a lessening of pain, rather than tangible reassurance. Your home-bound train finally pulls into the station, night having fallen on the prairie.

Though they’re typically noted as an Americana/Folk act, this album subtly spans a spectrum of genres. Yes, you could say they aim for the 1960s Americana flavor. It becomes apparent, however, that they’re interpreting it through the scratched lens of a generation which spent the bulk of its formative years in the ’90s. It’s still good for people who refuse to acknowledge that country and folk music continued to exist after 1972, but also for those unacquainted with what the hell I mean by that. I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about this band until I really put my ear to it, stopped listening for what I expected to hear, and just heard it. It isn’t a smarmy attempt to resurrect a dead genre, it’s a cocktail of influences that can’t all be readily pointed out.

While my inner vinyl nerd begs you to buy the wax, I recommend you somehow get it on mp3 or CD too, because it’s gotta be top-notch travel music.

Words by A:42 for Demencha Magazine - Demencha Magazine


"Apocalypse Meow benefits musicians’ health fund"

The Grisly Hand, a band that keeps on living up to its lofty reputation, is celebrating the birth of its inaugural CD Friday night at the Studded Bird, 19th and Charlotte. Mary Fortune and the Sleazbeats open at 8 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $5. - The Kansas City Star


"Brand-new KC band the Grisly Hand wants to lead you onto the dance floor"

On a recent Thursday night in midtown, a bearded and bespectacled Jimmy Fitzner sits down in a creaky wooden chair with his guitar. The 27-year-old is the last to arrive but the first to get down to business, if you can even call it that.
"I'm pretty sure that this is not a song, but it might be a song," he says.

The table of his bandmate, Lauren Krum, is stocked with beer, tequila and pizza rolls. What could have been a standard practice (albeit not in their usual practice space) turns into a veritable dining-room hootenanny for the Grisly Hand.

After a few attempts at fiddling with the possibly new song, the band decides for the moment to move on to "Losin' You," which is most definitely a song — one that beautifully blends country with classic funk.

Drummer Charles "Chaz" Snyder, beating on an impromptu drum set (a tambourine, the table, his leg — really, anything in reach but the pizza rolls), knocks over a beer, cleans it up and has a good laugh, all without missing a beat.

"That's what happens when you don't get enough drums in Chaz' hands," Fitzner says as the song ends. "He thinks, 'What else can I beat on?'"

As she removes the battery from her cell phone in hopes of averting beer damage, lead singer Krum chimes in, "I'm constantly like, 'How did I luck into this?'"

"You stole the band From Before," says Fitzner.

And she sort of did.

Though the Grisly Hand in its current form is only about a year old, the members sound like they've been rocking out together to Americana beats for years. Some of them have.

Krum, now 25, has always admired her bandmates. Three of them — Snyder, Fitzner and John Nichols, who plays bass and provides backup vocals — also play in a local band called From Before, which Nichols describes as "funky and Led Zeppelin-ish."

In 2006, Krum had the pleasure of playing one show at the Brick with Fitzner and Nichols. That was right before she moved to Chicago for school. But that collaboration solidified her desire to perform, and while she was in Chicago, she put together the Strumpettes, a soul-inspired group featuring four female singers and a four-piece band. When the Strumpettes dismantled in 2008 and her life in Chicago started to fall apart, Krum decided to move back to Kansas City. She immediately began singing with From Before.

"It was kind of the perfect storm, and I was just ready to come home," she says. "And that [the band] was the good part of coming home." Good for her and even better for the Kansas City music scene.

Within a few months, Krum, Fitzner, Nichols and Snyder were performing as a new group. They had brought on Andy Davis to play mandolin and were keeping a long — if somewhat ridiculous — list of potential band names. Krum had put "the Grisly Hand" in the running after coming across it in the poem "Webster Ford" from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology.

A great name for a great band, even if it is grossly misleading. The Grisly Hand is anything but grisly.

Krum and the others jokingly refer to their sound as "American sing-ish." It's possible that there is no better label because describing it accurately would require too many hyphens. It's sort of a country-funk-soul-blues-rock-and-pop sound, in that order, with emphasis on the country.

The mishmash of genres is no surprise, though, considering that the Grisly Hand's influences are all over the place: Patsy Cline, the Band and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.

During a Grisly Hand gig at the Crossroads Music Festival in September, Krum joked to the audience at the Brick that their song "Paris of the Plains" — which rhymes Branson with white people dancin' and is about coming home to Kansas City — was a Neil Diamond number. She even fooled a few folks who'd had a few too many drinks, until admitting afterward that it was written by Fitzner, who plays lead guitar and whose tenor voice is the perfect accompaniment to Krum's sultry, spunky alto.

Not all of the band's lyrics are as peppy, but even songs such as "The Good Wife" (about being the exact opposite of a good wife) and "The Cherry Mash Waltz" (about the impossibility of getting over someone) somehow manage to be fun and funky.

Much of that can be credited to Fitzner, the Grisly Hand's primary songwriter, who counts Marty Robbins and Leadbelly among his influences and says his dad listened to a lot of Duane Eddy when he was growing up. And Krum, who writes many of the lyrics, admits that she and Davis (who jumps from mandolin to guitar to keyboard, depending on the song) first bonded over a mutual love of Black Sabbath.

Whatever their genre, it's good. It's damn good. As Krum explains, "When you hear people tell their friends, it's just like, 'You'll like it.'"

That's an understatement. You'll freakin' love it.

Currently, the Grisly Hand is working on an EP that the band hopes to have out by the end of the year, with a full-length coming in late spring.

And while not everyone can have the pleasure of hanging out in the dining room of one of the band members, it's not inconceivable that you could have the band in yours. They all agree that house parties are their favorite venues.
- The Pitch


"SXSW 2010: The Grisly Hand – Midwest Music Takeover @ the Canvas Bar"

If you’ve ever read the site on a repetitively regular basis, you’re probably aware of my unquestionable preference for female fronted bands…This is because, in my humble opinion, women in music have a far more difficult time collecting and sustaining respect in the industry for their musicianship. They often get pushed to the front for all the wrong reasons (i.e. breasts) instead of their musical credibility. However, in rare occasions women in the industry are the exception not the rule.

Here in Kansas City, we have one of those exceptions. Lauren Krum, the front woman of The Grisly Hand, might honestly possess the most powerful pipes in the Midwest. She helps propel her extremely talented band to the level of exposure they deserve.

South By Southwest is that level for sure. Today at the Canvas Bar, as part of the Midwest Music Takeover, they owned their Austin, Texas debut. With a sound concreted in the “Sun Records” sound, the group brings to Austin something outside of the city’s normal style. Their harmony vocals are as strong as I’ve seen on the national circuit. The same can certainly be said of their instrumentation, which is hard to find in a group as large as Hand. But this six piece never steps on each other. They honestly compliment each other very well.

If you haven’t already jumped on the wagon train for this band, you should. Regardless of what city you’re in they should be on your radar, because if (when) a label like Bloodshot Records gets a hold of them, you might not get near them again. I expect big things.

Set List:
Paris
Black Coffee
Distraction
Cherry Mash
Roll On
Pickin’
Losing You
- popwreckoning.com


Discography

Western Ave EP - 4 song EP self-released winter 2011
Safe House - 7 song EP self-released 11/2/2010

Full-Length Debut planned for Fall 2012.

Photos

Bio

Since 2009, The Grisly Hand has been winning over audiences and critics in Kansas City. And now, with its second EP on the shelves, the band has a little more experience, and a lot more momentum. Though rooted in the Midwest, this is the kind of act that’s bound to resonate anywhere it lands.

Call it country, rock, Americana, or any other moniker. What’s important is that it’s real and it sounds great. The Grisly Hand conjures visions of the familiar while remaining refreshing and original. Their appeal isn’t limited to the Midwest, but it’s undeniably part of their identity.

With their latest EP, Western Ave, The Grisly Hand has shown that their unique style is a work in progress. Their sound evolves and takes on new traits, but it maintains the same backbone that has won the band fans and accolades for the last three years.