LOST IN THE CITY – Album Review: “Leaving Home”

Lost in the City Leaving Home art

More than two years ago, in June 2016, Kansas City, Missouri alternative rock band Lost in the City released their superb debut album Genesis. It’s a monumental work, with powerful, thoughtfully-written lyrics addressing the familiar subjects of love, relationships and break-ups, but also the travails of touring, anxiety and depression, delivered with blistering guitar riffs, thunderous drums and passionate vocals. (You can read my review of Genesis here.)  Later that year, in the fall of 2016, they began writing songs for their new album Leaving Home, which drops today, October 12. Two years in the making, Leaving Home reflects the band’s growth and maturity, and the many life changes individual band members experienced, including graduating from college, changing jobs, relationships, and literally leaving home by moving out of their parents’ house for the first time.

Lost in the City band pic

Lost in the City is Shane Radford (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Synths), Dustin Proctor (Guitar), Cullan Wiley (Bass) and Kyle Constant (Drums).  For Leaving Home, Bret Liber, who’s also a musician in his own right, with the rock band Young Medicine, played keyboards in addition to recording, mixing and mastering the album tracks.

The album opens with “The Battle of Schrute Farms,” arriving in a barrage of raging guitars, humming bass and hammering drumbeats. Shane is joined by Jordan Rebman on vocals, and together, they’re an emotional powerhouse as they belt out the biting lyrics about cowardice in a relationship: “I’m forgetting the way you play, but I don’t regret anything. You’ll move on and so will the sun. Just take me for granted. Despite your efforts, you can’t take this from me.” At least that’s my take on it after Googling the song’s title, and finding this definition: “Thought by many to be the Northernmost battle of the American Civil War, The Battle of Schrute farms was instead a code name for the refuge for cowards escaping the the drudgery and conflict of war.”

From the Floor of an Attic in Portland” is an interesting song, with unusual chord progressions and instrumentation. Loud, fuzzy guitars, buzzing bass, piercing synths and complex percussion are dominant musical elements on this arresting track. Shane almost screams the hopeful lyrics “Tonight is the night to save a life. And I do believe that we all can change.” The soaring vocal harmonies in the chorus are wonderful, and I love the delicate piano riff in the outro.

As I continue listening to the album, one of the things that stands out is the sheer power and exuberance of the song arrangements, instrumentals and vocals. “Daylight” essentially captures the essence of the album – that embracing the inevitable changes that come our way is the key to surviving this thing called life.  The jagged guitar riffs and thunderous percussion are a perfect match for the uplifting lyrics: “The biggest decisions, I’ve made without a plan. Growth is the key to finding your purpose. I feel like I’m wandering away from old notions. / Everything looks better in the daylight. I’m taking time to forget what I’m seeing. My life’s been changing for some time now.”  The heartwarming video shows intimate scenes of the band just being themselves, playing, rehearsing and performing.

You Stopped This Train” is a hard-hitting melodic rock song about someone who’s chosen to abandon a relationship the singer believed was strong and lasting. Musically, the track features Shane and Dustin’s gritty, shredded guitars and Kyle’s furious drums, all anchored by Cullan’s powerful bass. The screaming guitars at the end of the track are fantastic, and perfectly convey the pain Shane expresses in his wailing vocals “You stopped this train when everything was going great. You walked away as you let it all fall apart.

With a barrage of jagged riffs and sweeping piano-driven synths, “Bangarang!” seems to call out the futility of war and conflict: “The tales of war aren’t exaggerated. The infighting ranks fall away./ Revenge should be used in no situation. It brings no change, just cold isolation.” The raucous “Into the Dark” features tortured riffs of gritty, distorted guitars and industrial-strength drums pounding out an exhilarating beat. Shane fervently sings of an optimistic light at the end of the tunnel: “No matter the changes, we’ll push through. Lifting our heads as we move on by. We don’t have time to doubt. Time will tell if we made it.” This optimistic outlook continues with “The Light Inside My Head,” as Shane sings of moving forward and not letting past mistakes hold you back: “I’m taking time to take note of where I am. Progress is progress, no matter how hard. I’m holding my future in my own hands, Bright sides are a brand new cycle.

One of my favorite tracks is “Metro Apartments,” with its haunting melody and grandiose instrumentals. Bret Liber’s guest vocals nicely complement Shane’s, and I love their vocal harmonies in the chorus. The lush, sweeping synths, thunderous drums and shredded guitars are positively spine-tingling. “The Upside Down” is a 48-second long interlude with dramatic piano-driven synths, and Shane’s repeated line “I’m sorry I grew up. I’m sorry I failed.” The brief track serves as an intro to the final track “Monsters Are(n’t) Real Pt. 2,” which is actually a continuation of the final track on their first album Genesis, “Monsters Are(n’t) Real.”  It’s a very dark and hard-hitting song, with piercing, tortured synths, raging guitars and furious drums that seem to grab us by the throat. All the optimism expressed in many of the previous tracks has been replaced with a overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair, resulting from a realization that the world is in fact a very bad place, and our futures are bleak (sort of how I’m feeling under our current presidential administration and Congress).

The world is worse than I thought it would be.
Filled with hope, I ran to the sea.
A sea of wanderers? Who could they be?
Filled with anger, who are we?

I’m sorry I grew up. I’m sorry I failed.
The monsters in our heads are so very real.
The doubts that fill us are the truth.
We’re just expendable pieces of youth.
War cries are louder than we need.
We take time to be free and see.

I’m sorry I grew up. I’m sorry I failed.
The monsters in our heads are so very real.
The sky is filled with dashed hopes and dreams.
“If you work hard, you’ll be whatever you want to be.”
We all know the truth as we march along.
We’re a piece of the puzzle, alone not strong.

It’s interesting that Lost in the City would choose to end their album on such a somber note. Nevertheless, Leaving Home is a brilliant and provocative work – a coming-of-age of sorts for this talented and thoughtful group of guys. Their songwriting and musicianship is outstanding, and I’m happy to watch them grow and mature as a band.

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LOST IN THE CITY Release New Single “You Stopped This Train”

One year ago, Kansas City alternative rock band Lost in the City released their monumental debut album Genesis, which I reviewed and you can read here. Now, after toiling in the studio with Bret Liber at Red Roof Productions (who’s also a musician in his own right, with the rock band Young Medicine), they just dropped the first single “You Stopped This Train” from their forthcoming album Leaving Home, due out later this year.

Lost in the City band pic

Lost in the City is Shane Radford (Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keys/Synths), Dustin Proctor (Guitar), Cullan Wiley (Bass) and Kyle Constant (Drums). They play dynamic post-punk alternative rock loaded with thunderous chords, blistering guitar riffs, heavy drums and passion-filled vocals.  For their new album, Bret Liber also played keyboards in addition to recording, mixing and mastering the tracks.

“You Stopped This Train” is a hard-hitting rock song about someone who’s chosen to abandon a relationship the singer believed was strong and lasting. Musically, the track features Radford and Proctor’s gritty, shredded guitars and Constant’s pounding drums, all anchored by Wiley’s powerful bass. The screaming guitars at the end of the track are fantastic, and perfectly convey the pain expressed in the biting lyrics. Radford’s vocals are full of raw emotion as he wails “You stopped this train when everything was going great. You walked away as you let it fall apart.” And I love the guys’ soaring harmonic choruses.

It’s a terrific first song, and based on the quality of four other tracks I’ve been given the pleasure of hearing in advance, I can tell you that Leaving Home is going to be a killer album!

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Album Review: Lost In The City – “Genesis”

There’s a special place in my heart for earnest, hard-working musicians who dedicate themselves so passionately to making great music that strongly connects with their fans. Such is the case with the young Kansas City band Lost In The City. They play an incredibly dynamic style of Alternative Rock that’s hard to categorize, as it can also be described as Post-Punk, Punk Rock or Punk/Pop. But no matter what label it’s given, the band’s guitar-heavy sound is influenced by some of their (and my) personal favorites, including Fall Out Boy, blink-182, Anberlin,  Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters and Dance Gavin Dance. In fact, band front man and lead vocalist Shane Radford at times sounds disarmingly similar to Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, yet their music is thoroughly unique.

In addition to Radford, who also plays rhythm guitar & synthesizers, the other band members include Danny Davis (bass/synthesizers), Dustin Proctor (guitar) and Kyle Constant (drums).  All are musicians who’ve previously been active in the Kansas City music scene for the past decade. They joined forces to form Lost In The City, and their collective experience gave them a distinct advantage over other newly-formed bands. Once they quickly found their groove, they began playing local shows, writing and recording a full album, and embarking on a nationwide tour. Despite line-up changes, working full-time jobs, going to school, and competing for stage time in a crowded music scene, the band has persevered without skipping a beat.

lost-in-the-city

Lost In The City dropped their debut album Genesis in June 2016, and what a spectacular debut it is!  Ten songs that shower your ears with thunderous chords, blistering guitar riffs, power drums and mesmerizing, passion-filled vocals. Lyrically, the songs address the familiar subjects of love, relationships and break-ups, but also the travails of touring, anxiety and depression.

We’re introduced to the album by the first track “Too Young For a Comeback (Too Old to Start Over).” The shredded guitars in this hyperkinetic track are monumental, rising and falling with the throbbing bass line. Halfway through the second track – “The Midwest Isn’t Gold, But It’s Full of Color” – it’s clear these guys kill it with their guitars!  The intense, high-energy arrangement of this song make it one of my favorites on the album. The lyrics speak to conflicted dreams of leaving the Midwest for a more exciting existence: “California is calling my name again/Maybe someday I’ll answer it/But for now I’ve got to make do and better myself/My heart is falling for the Midwest/I need some time/I’m looking for a reason to stay.”

The brilliant “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay”is about depression, a subject rarely sung about: “I’ve got a cloud full of sorrows leading me around/This head full of doubt is pulling me down/There’s a battlefield of red, a battlefield of gray/I’m making a stand, inside my head.” The ominous opening guitar riff portends a deeply emotional theme, and Radford’s fervent vocals, sung to furious guitars, make for a tremendously powerful song.  The track was released as a single in 2015, nearly a year before the album was completed. The compelling video produced for the song shows the band performing in the graffiti-covered ruins of an abandoned building, interspersed with footage of a woman fleeing her mental demons. (The drummer in the video is Ryan Meador, who subsequently left the band and was replaced by Kyle Constant.)

Another standout track is “Our Time,” with hammering drums, guitars that alternate between chiming and scorching, and Radford’s heartfelt vocals. The powerful lyrics address the fleeting aspect of life – that each of us has our moment in the sun, but it won’t last forever. “Our souls are burning bright and we’re lighting up the sky/Homesick feelings, there’s no point to lie/Someday we’ll build a legacy, someday we’ll all die.”

“Too Far Gone” is a kick-ass hard-driving track with incredible soaring choruses and distorted guitars, while the smoldering rock ballad “Wildfire”features beguiling circular plucky guitars overlying heavy bass. Shredded guitars rule on the catchy, melodic “Bottles” and pulse-pounding “Novels For the New Moon.”  The power-ballad “Eyes” is yet another standout track, with changing tempo and chord progressions that create tension.  At 3:45, the song appears to end, then abruptly begins again with a reprise of the chorus “I’m building up a way to pay for my mistakes/Don’t forget the stars in your eyes.”

The epic final track, “Monsters Are(n’t) Real,” feels almost like a mini rock opera, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song opens with carnival-like sounds, possibly from a haunted house attraction, and distorted guitars keeping time, then erupts with pummeling bass and fast-paced swirling guitars. The poignant lyrics address the anxieties of growing up and regrets from adult realities and disappointments. The song closes with the chorus “I’m sorry I grew up/I’m sorry I failed.” Some pretty heavy stuff there.

“Genesis” is aptly named, as this album marks the beginnings of a band with great promise. Support Lost in the City by following them on Facebook and Twitter.  Stream the album on Spotify or purchase on Amazonitunes or Bandcamp.