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The Life and Times

Tragic Boogie
(Arena Rock Records)

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If you had to pick one band to represent Kansas City in a national battle of the bands, would there be any better choice than the Life and Times? These guys have consistently been mammoth since their inception in 2002 — and don't forget singer and guitarist Allen Epley's decade-long run in Shiner prior to that. Tragic Boogie is the L&T's second full-length album in seven years, an indication of the group's meticulous writing and recording process. It's the album that finally provides a fitting complement to the trio's "blissed out" live show, and it's worth every bit of the wait. The righteous moodiness of 2005's Suburban Hymns is still intact, but it's brightened by cheerier numbers such as "Que Sera Sera" and "Chase Sequence." For every My Bloody Valentine moment (such as the tape-tugging swoon of "The Lucid Dream"), there's another gesture that recalls other righteous mind warpers like Blonde Redhead or Sunny Day Real Estate. If you've ever listened to a Sigur Rós record and wished that they'd just rock out already, then Tragic Boogie is your joint. And it's hoped that it'll also be the record that puts the Life and Times in the short-list company of the bands they revere.

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