> Kansas > 50 Bands / 50 States 2008 > Boston Phoenix 50 Bands 50 States



CITY: Kansas

Ad Astra Per Aspera

All-Time Best Band: The Embarrassment
All-Time Best Solo Artist: Charlie “Bird” Parker
Best New Band: Ad Astra Per Aspera

Posthumously covered by Shonen Knife and celebrated by no less a knowing curmudgeon than Robert Christgau as a “great lost American band,” the EMBARRASSMENT were Kansas’s answer to the Modern Lovers, briefly igniting the Midwest with a few blistering power-pop singles before half the band moved to Boston to join two more great-lost-American-bands, the Del Fuegos and Big Dipper. | Born and raised in Kansas City (the cowpokier Kansas one), CHARLIE "BIRD" PARKER single-handedly led saxophonists from blues to bop, composing and performing several of jazz’s greatest-ever moments in a drug-shortened life that ended before his 35th birthday. | Part no-wave tsunami, part more-cowbell party band, AD ASTRA PER ASPERA enliven Kansas’s official state motto (from the Latin, “To the stars through hardships”) with genre-busting ambitions that make this co-ed quartet sound like two Sonic Youths fighting Sleater-Kinney for world supremacy.

Video: The Embarrassment
Video: Charlie Parker

Download: Ad Astra Per Aspera, "A Fish Would Much Rather Swim" (mp3)

Listen: The Embarrassment, "Drive me to the Park"

Listen: Charlie "Bird" Parker, "Now's the Time"


_Nina MacLaughlin