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Kansas City music

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Album review: Rev Gusto - Burnt Out Friends

“Goodnight Laura. It’s nice to know ya. But it’s better if I just fade away. So goodnight Laura. Know I adore ya. But, you’ll never be happy if I stay.” This lyric pierces my heart a bit. While this sad, easy let-down story is charming and catchy, I do want Jerry Frederick to stay. I really do. This lyric from “Goodnight Laura” is just some of the simple brilliance found on Burnt Out Friends, the debut full-length from the very original and talented Kansas City based Rev Gusto.
 
Burnt Out Friends, the 10-track record, released July 28 on High Dive Records, is on heavy rotation in my house. The super rad red cassette is in even heavier rotation in my car. I have seen them countless times. Danced like a crazy person until my legs no longer worked. Forced everyone I know to listen and join in. You could call me a fan.
 
This album is lighthearted and lyrically brilliant. We should expect no less from the gifted mind behind the project: Jerry Frederick. “We wanted to capture a raw sound with the album, so we recorded the entire LP live in studio to do so,” he explains. He might know what he is doing. He studied in England under Ray Davies of The Kinks. Spoiler: you can hear that in this album—every track. Jerry’s vocals are almost Britpop. Imagine early Beach Boys had a baby with The Kinks and Spoon and raised it in a dark, sarcastic, romantic comedy. Burnt Out Friends is full of simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic.
 
The brilliant musicians who can be heard on this album are Quinn Hernandez (drums), Shaun Crowley (guitar and trumpet), Peter Beatty (guitar and keys), Sam Frederick (bass) and of course, Jerry Frederick on guitar and vocals. Fun fact about Rev Gusto: after a restaff, they are now a three-piece. This includes Sam, still on bass, and Matt Wargin on drums. I heard this rumor but have not taken in a live show with the new lineup yet. “I loved playing with the dudes from the old lineup, but a stripped-down sound lets me get in touch with my song’s pop roots; more of a focus on vocals and harmonies,” was Jerry’s response when I quizzed him about the shake-up.
 
Burnt out Friends opens with “The Boys Are at It Again,” a great pick for an opening track. It’s light, sugary, and catchy. Jerry’s vocals and Shaun Crowley’s guitar with a perfect salty surf sound makes you dance like an awkward Peanuts’ character. My favorite track on the record is “Blood in a Bag.” This song about a crush is lyrically like none I’ve ever heard. In true Jerry fashion, it tells an obscure story of a boy, crushing on a girl while he has his blood drawn. Awkward, simple, like it were straight out of a dark indie romantic comedy. “Surf City/Mind in a Cage” is the most interesting on the album. The two short songs smashed together are a perfect combination. The first of the two are just as you imagine. The title is a spoiler. The second feels like a dance-it-out garage pop anthem. I put this track on in my living room, listen to Shaun play me that salty surf sound, jump around (usually after too many beers) and scream, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go,” along with Jerry.  
 
This pristine, simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic is such an unlikely sound to come out of Kansas City. I am full on Thanksgiving turkey thankful for it. And if you get the opportunity catch a show, do it.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 
 

You can check out the new Rev Gusto lineup at Revolution Records next First Friday—they’ll be playing therewith Black Stacey and Coyote. Show starts at 7 pm. Facebook event page. Or if you’re in Warrensburg on Saturday, they’ll be at The Bay.  

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An interview with Jessica Paige

Jessica Paige recently released her new album Sweet Nothings in September, and it is definitely worth the listen. Her sound combines the intimate tunes you hear in coffee shops with great storytelling in her lyrics that can be enjoyed in the warmth of your cozy home.  
 
Paige always knew that she needed to be a singer/songwriter. She started writing songs in 5th grade with her friends, and performed her first written song at the age of 14. She began dabbling in guitar in her hometown, and learned to sharpen her skills after high school in Ireland.
 
“Your gut to learn guitar is smart—it will lead you to incredible places,” Paige says. And that it did. She later honed in on her songwriting skills. One of the main aspects that she has learned from her peers is to be minimal with her songs, not overbearing. She took to heart the words of a peer in Ireland: “You don’t need fancy guitar technique; your voice is the main instrument. That is it.” Her voice is the key that helps get her point across. She learned that if she does any complicated guitar shenanigans, it may distract from her voice and the general idea of the song. When you hear one of her songs or see her live, you’ll understand the power of her voice—it can either be soft and intimate or powerful and soulful.
 
Now, songs can come from anywhere. Sometimes she gets melody ideas in her car and records them to her phone. “There are a lot of bad ones, but a few keepers,” she says. There are times when she writes with lit candles around her, a glass of wine, and a guitar to help create a calming environment around her. When writing lyrics, it is always with a pen and paper. “It is always satisfying when I write on paper rather than typing. It just feels right and real.”
 
Paige’s songs are based on her personal life. “In order to write well, you have to dig deeper on that feeling in order to articulate the feeling.” She feels vulnerable writing songs that are personal to her, noting that it recently “feels like standing naked.”
 
Usually, songwriters write to and for their audience. Paige, on the other hand, writes for herself. “I write what I’m feeling, with the intent to be honest.” On her new album, she describes her feelings about love, heartache, or loss; each song describes a moment from a past relationship. One of my favorite songs, “Sweet Nothings,” describes a significant other in his vulnerable state resting his head in her bed while she appreciates every single detail of this particular moment in their relationship. “Good Grief,” one of the only songs not about a relationship, describes how she handled a family member’s passing. Lastly, “The Fall”, describes a moment where she was letting a significant other go and saying farewell. With each song, rather than describing what she feels, she allows you to go ahead and experience the feeling for yourself.
           
Right now, Paige is currently promoting Sweet Nothings, with a single, “Beautiful Life,” that has radio airplay. For the future, she talks about playing with the idea of writing about situations she’s encountered through others or brand-new stories. Jessica Paige is a unique and rare Kansas City songwriter. Take a listen to her lyrics; it may change your perspective on life and its beauty.
 
 
--Mica-Elgin Vi
Mica-Elgin Vi is a singer songwriter. He is the lead vocalist and guitarist for a Kansas City based band called Modern Day Fitzgerald.
 
 

You’ll have a couple chances to see Jessica Paige this week. She’ll be playing some tunes on Thanksgiving night at recordBar with Vi Tran and friends, and will take the stage at Mills Record Company the following evening for Black Friday/Record Store Day. Her set starts at 7:00 p.m., followed by Pink Royal. Facebook event page. 

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Album review: Mikal Shapiro - The Musical

Singer-songwriter Mikal Shapiro’s perfectly titled latest release, The Musical, is a collection of not merely songs, but 10 short stories set to wonderful music. The album is a work—or multiple works—of art that are just as mysterious and intriguing as any paintings you will find in a gallery. Shapiro’s palette is splattered with the complete spectrum of colors. There are dreary gray tones and bright whimsical flashes, melding together to create a soundtrack to life—one that touches many musical genres, including rock, folk, jazz, old-school country, and even gospel.
 
The Musical's opening act, “Nope,” is an airy, ethereal fantasy. Odd, evasive lyrics over a folk sound made jazzier by a muted trumpet give the listener a sense of drifting in and out of a dream on a rainy Sunday morning. Drums and crashing cymbals briefly end the slumber, until you are lulled back to sleep as the song comes to a close. Several tracks share this jazz feel, including “Out on the Town,” “Two String Blues,” and the wonderfully whimsical "Hot Cool." Shapiro's vocals are poised and effortless on each of these. 
 
“Here and Now” explores rediscovering love and a desire to forget (or never remember) the past. A dull snare beat blanketed by beautiful steel guitar rivals the purest of cry-in-your-beer country songs. Similarly, “This Way to Heaven” is country with an emphasis on gospel. It begins a cappella and, as the band joins in, becomes the loveliest song on the album. It is simultaneously serene and haunting.
 
Matching the mystery and irony found throughout the album, “Daniel,” the catchiest and most up-tempo tune, is also possibly the saddest. Daniel himself is an enigma. The storyteller, who acknowledges being a “friend” of Daniel’s, clearly knows little more about him than that he can “sings like a Christian” and “drink like a demon.” The song turns dark when the protagonist is found dead, presumably by suicide. “But on that Saturday, Daniel was down / They couldn’t say where he was found, or how he was found.” Brilliantly, the listener is left to decide how Daniel may have met his demise, and why.  
 
Shapiro is fortunate to be backed by Chad Brothers (guitar and vocals), Johnny Hamil (electric and double bass), and Matt Richey (drums), along with a small army of additional local musicians. This adept team provides a canvas that Shapiro expertly fills. My interpretations of The Musical may differ from other listeners. As with any painting, the artist is not only revealing her emotions, but is also attempting to provoke a response—and Shapiro certainly does. My response may be lost in translation, as the peculiar, personal songs will pierce each listener differently.
 
 
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.
 
Mikal Shapiro and her band will be playing The Musical tomorrow (Thursday) night at Harling’s Upstairs as well as releasing copies of the album on vinyl. Special guests Claire and the Crowded Stage and The Hardship Letters. Facebook event page

 

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Album review: Thunderclaps - Cookin' Up A Good Time

Before listening to the new Thunderclaps’ Cookin’ Up a Good Time EP, I had never actually heard the band. I knew a little bit about them—mostly that they’re a two-piece comprised of cousins Bryce Jones (guitar and vocals) and Colin Blunt (drums). As a bass player, I must admit that I tend to lose interest when I find out a band is sans bass. This probably isn’t fair. The first of the record’s three tracks, “So Lonesome,” begins with isolated laughter. I wondered why, until I heard the rest of the EP. Now I get it…the joke’s on me. This is great stuff.
 
“So Lonesome” is a song your grandparents wish they could have heard at the sock hop. A true throwback to the ‘50s, when rock and roll was still being defined, it is full-throttle rockabilly that has a simply irresistible energy. Jones’ guitar and vocals share a gritty but warm distorted twang. Blunt’s tenacious yet tight drumming is on the mark and fills the sound. You’ll be tapping your toes—if not dancing—to this ditty.
 
The closing track, “Shake It,” shares the verve and vigor of “So Lonesome,” but the driving beat and even gooier guitar tone gives it an almost surf sound. This may be the most potent tune on the record, thanks to the drums and guitar quieting to a whisper while Jones chants, “Oh ah a whoppa bam boom mama,” leading into a crescendo consisting only of sticky, reverb-dripping vocals. Despite sounding like it came from an old album purchased at an estate sale, “Shake It” could easily create an impromptu mosh pit in a live setting. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s cool, daddy-o.
 
Between these two offerings is the slow dance number, “You Got a Hold On Me.” It’s a love song and a breath of fresh air strategically placed inside of two powerhouses. Jones softly sings about love from afar with someone he can’t have—or who won’t have him. “You got a hold on me / But I never held you.” Much more than a filler, the music is nicely crafted with a gentle pulse and smooth guitar punctuated with full ringing chords. It is literally and figuratively the heart of the EP.
 
Cookin’ Up a Good Time will appeal to multiple generations. It will be a blast from the past to some, and something totally new to others. At the end of the day it’s just good music—and good music is timeless. Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Maybe one could argue that the best artists inspire others. Thunderclaps have clearly been inspired by past artists, and have borrowed from them to create something very relevant today.
 
 
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.
 
 

Shake it with Thunderclaps this Saturday at Jackpot Saloon in Lawrence. They’ll be there with The Quivers and Old Grey Dog. Facebook event page 

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October Artist of the Month: Ivory Black

Congratulations to our October Artist of the Month, Ivory Black! A fairly new transplant to Kansas City’s music scene, Black has been honing an identity as a songwriter for years. The budding performer moved to Kansas City from Seattle 6 years ago, and began adapting acoustic songs to include full band arrangements. Black recently assembled a band (consisting of Glen Hockemeier on drums and Keenan Franklin on bass) to fully execute their thoughtful, reflective brand of songs. With the release of their EP Ready Get Set this summer, the songwriter has gained some well-deserved attention locally and beyond.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
 
Ivory Black: I call it primo alternative, as in, it’s got this easy listening vibe but with upbeat rhythms, making it possible to move to.
 
The Deli: Give me some info on your musical background. Why did you decide to put a band together?
 
Black: My story musically is a simple one. I started writing as young as 12 years old when I got my first guitar. I’ve had bands over the years, but performed alone due to the simplicity of my acoustic songwriting. It wasn’t till I moved to KC that I started writing more intricate parts that required other musicians to play them along with me live and in the studio.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process?
 
Black: Literally everything inspires me artistically. It’s a dice roll of how I’ll write a song, depending on my mood, what I’m thinking or what happened that day or even years before. I don’t believe I’ve ever written a song with the same exact process I did on previous ones.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest musical accomplishments?
 
Black: I’d have to say the greatest achievement so far has been the spike in my writing abilities, as in getting the point across. Listening to songs I wrote so many years ago, it’s mind-blowing to realize how far someone can come from where they first started.
 
The Deli: Tell us about your latest album Ready Get Set. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for recording?
 
Black: Ready Get Set is a compilation EP that I threw together so everyone that has ever asked has something physical and official of mine that they can finally hold in their hands. The future, however, holds many opportunities! The things I’m working on now, I’m very excited to get out as soon as recording opportunities arise in my favor again.
 
The Deli: What brought you to KC, and what do you think about the music scene here? Possibly related: what does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Black: I came to KC to focus primarily on a dream I’ve been chasing since I was little. Music is so influential, and can change people’s lives when they’re open to it. I really wanted to be part of that movement in a positive way. What I’ve found about KC is the abundant acceptance and appreciation that supporters and musicians alike have for local music. This scene isn’t possible without the support to push it forward, and KC is very supportive in that respect.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
 
Black: You develop a sort of kinship, or at least intend to, with people you relate to on an artistic level wherever you go. I’ve been a fan of My Brothers and Sisters for some time and have mad respect for what Jamie Searle has done and is still doing for his band and the community. I recently attended the Macabre KC show and was very entertained with the talent that was there. Calvin Arsenia has always had a spot in my heart, due to his passion in what he does vocal wise and with the harp. Jessica Paige has an incredible talent as well. Amazing voice. Erica Joy is easily a favorite.
 
Astounding attitude on both ends of the scene; even lesser known musicians I catch at open mics. The passion that people have to share their love for what they do is always inspiring, and of course the songs are as well.
 
Non-local, I’ve been a big fan of Diane Coffee lately. I don’t follow a lot of music but that artist is on point. I like music with psychedelic vibes in it that bring back the ‘70s and the music I grew up with. You won’t hear that on the EP, and it’s probable in the future, but I like it on other people’s material right now when it’s executed well. 
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Black: To be honest, I think it’s mind-blowing to play with any artist. I’m just starting out, so I’m pretty psyched every chance I get. The big dream of course is to have my name in those big letters on a marquee or something, with some huge band everyone knows about, but right now I’m taking it one step at a time.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
I kinda like it the way it is though. How about John Lennon? He’s been a huge inspiration to many! Maybe Mick Jagger for some flair. Since we’re going down the road of long-haired rock stars, you gotta have legend Stevie Nicks on there. Fleetwood Mac was a huge inspiration to me on that note. We’ll end it with Jim Morrison, cause you know, when the music’s over…
 
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2015 and beyond?
 
Black: Well, to be frank, all the goals I wanted for this year have been fulfilled! Got the band going, started playing out, and finished the EP. Things went very well this year! It wouldn’t have been possible without my manager, Klaartje, so a big shout out to her. Next year we are banking for building up on our following so we can play places like Knuckleheads Saloon, The Brick, and venturing out to other states with well known venues. Just gotta take little steps at a time.
 
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web? Also, provide a link to streaming music and/or video.
 
Black: I ask that everyone checks out my personal site out where everything, including links to my EPK, EP and pictures can be found: www.ivoryblackmusic.com
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Black: I don’t consider myself wise by any means, but I do know that if you put all of your heart into something good, things tend to have a way of working in favor of those that want it enough.
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
 

You can catch Ivory Black in just a couple weeks. Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 28 at The All-Star Rock Bar, with Lauren Karr and Co., and The Accidental Project. Facebook event page. 

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