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Album review: The B'Dinas - Fruitcakes

(Photo by Brandon Forrest Frederick)
 
The B’Dinas’ Fruitcakes is a creative juggernaut of hopeful turmoil; heavy groove and sexy vocal driven filled longing. It is an instant local classic. 
 
“Fated,” the opening track, is an up-tempo rocker with a blazing guitar. It has a retro psychedelic keyboard reminiscent of the ‘60s San Francisco scene—a great way to kick off a record.
 
“Pretty Neat (Candy Store)” is the album’s second track, with some of my favorite lyrics on the entire collection. I love profanity in rock ‘n’ roll but it’s very rarely done with power and grace. Roger Waters may be the best at it, and while there are other singers with clever filthy mouths, The B’dinas has one for the books with the line, “All your promises don’t mean shit if I can’t hold the value in my hand.” True enough, it seems to be. I’ve been walking around for days singing this line. It’s tough but tender because it’s delivered by Katelyn Jamison’s forgiving voice.
 
“Nuts and Bolts” is one of the shortest tracks on the record. This is a tough tune that makes me want to walk down the street with a switchblade in one hand and a flower in another.
 
The tune “Crystal Ball” opens with lovers in the sack. The heroine is just lying there when she turns over to glare out the window at a blackbird. The song is a mid-tempo funky thing with an Edgar Allen Poe twist. This song moves from blues to ‘50s vocal pop into a light prog rock ending.
 
“Two Doves” is a gem, a mix of Little Feat and Marshall Tucker. It’s almost jam band in a retro Van Morrison way. The B’Dinas have two doves in their mind so it must be very peaceful there. They sing of doing “it” all night and everyone loves that idea… everyone! The guitar is terrific and the solo is so sleepy, soulful, and cold-blooded I’ve had to rewind it several times. The B’Dinas should shop this tune to Widespread Panic. It’s an absolute classic.
 
“Bread and Butter” conjures up a 90’s SoCal vibe mixed with a little Go-Gos meets Carole King. This one has a serious groove and great drums. “Can’t Shake It” has serious saxophone hooks and dark lyrics. Katy Guillen sings of wearing gray and having an unbearable burden baring down upon her chest she cannot shake. This one hints a bit of the Neville Brothers Yellow Moon era.
 
Goddamned” is another beautiful example how to use profanity the right way. “I see you got your eyes wide… you better hold on to your hi-fi,” and “I’ll be goddamned.” This one is going straight to the top of the list of songs to play and sing when things aren’t going my way.
 
The records closing track, “Answer Me,” is a dark soul tune with a guitar solo that probably peeled paint off the walls of the studio. It is the perfect way to say goodbye. 
 
The B’dinas Fruitcakes is worth it. It is obvious they have expended a tremendous amount of effort, musicianship, and creative songwriting talent into these eleven tracks. It has an intensely serious musical vibe with lighthearted narrative. It’s fun and it grooves. My only criticism so far of this record is I’m not listening to it on vinyl.
 
The B’Dinas are:
Katy Guillen – guitars/vocals/harmonica
Katelyn Jamison – keys/vocals/bass
Peter Lawless – bass/vocals/saxophone
Tess Jehle-Ray – drums/vocals
 
Fruitcakes was recorded by Jerod Rivers at Sangha Studios, and mastered by Bruce Barkelew at Mansion Studio.
 
-AJ Rider
 
AJ Rider was born in in the town where Jesse James died to a soldier and playboy bunny. His mother has let it slip on many drunken nights that he was conceived at the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1. He is a child of the sixties, has seen the grateful dead 126 times, and has a soft spot for the schoolteacher type.
 
 
Join The B’Dinas tonight at Coda, where they will be sharing the stage with Morningglories. Doors at 9:00 p.m. Facebook event page.
 
 

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September 2014
Katy Guillen & the Girls
"Katy Guillen & the Girls
"
mp3
Normally when I discover a band for the first time, I listen to their album first, then go see them live. In the case of Katy Guillen & The Girls’ new release, the situation's been reversed. I saw them live a couple of times before the album was released, so I was interested to hear if the record was going to capture the ferocity of their live performances. I have to confess that my hearing is not in the best of shape, and, due to a poor sound mix at what shall be an unnamed Lawrence venue, I never got to hear the words or even the melodies properly live at the most recent concert I attended. But upon hearing the self-titled LP, it’s nice to hear that Guillen can write literate lyrics to these songs I've heard played out.
 
The album opener, "Don't Get Bitter," hearkens back to the sound and feel of the Beatles' "Taxman," with Claire Adams' bass introducing the song. It's short, catchy, and lasts exactly as long as it should. If there were a single release off this album, this would be it.
 
This record is no-frills. It's the band pretty much as you hear them live, with the mix capturing a live in-studio sound. What strikes me listening to this record is that Katy and the Girls are not strictly a blues band. There's certainly an infusion of the blues in what they do, but, to my ears, they hearken back to some of the late ‘60s-early ‘70s hard rock bands like Mountain and Free, but with better lyrics and songs. I also hear some White Stripes in there somewhere. The melodies and harmonies are accentuated and they help blend with the powerful playing.
 
Katy Guillen, Claire Adams, and Stephanie Williams fill up a lot of space in these songs. It's obvious they are all very well in sync and have that great intuitive blend that comes from playing lots of live gigs together. I also like the changes in some of the songs, which go in directions you don't expect, like "Woke Up In Spain," which switches tempo adroitly.
 
The absolute masterpiece of this album is the last song, “Earth Angel.” It's the longest tune on the album, but it doesn't feel long. It starts out with Guillen’s dirty-sounding guitar intro, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and builds in intensity as it moves along. Guillen takes one hell of a solo during this song. It's obvious from hearing this record that she is an excellent guitarist but never overplays during the songs. But when the song calls for a lengthy solo, like "Earth Angel," sparks fly. The rest of the band is equally as adept. Adams’ bass lines are nimble and fit right in place with Williams’ active drum work. It's a pleasure to hear a band that obviously loves to play together rolling through these songs. The album’s producer (Duane Trower at Weights & Measures Soundlab) captures the clarity of the music as well as the power of a live performance.
 

--Barry Lee

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Album review: Katy Guillen & the Girls - Katy Guillen & the Girls

(Photo by Michelle Bacon)
 
Normally when I discover a band for the first time, I listen to their album first, then go see them live. In the case of Katy Guillen & The Girls’ new release, the situation's been reversed. I saw them live a couple of times before the album was released, so I was interested to hear if the record was going to capture the ferocity of their live performances. I have to confess that my hearing is not in the best of shape, and, due to a poor sound mix at what shall be an unnamed Lawrence venue, I never got to hear the words or even the melodies properly live at the most recent concert I attended. But upon hearing the self-titled LP, it’s nice to hear that Guillen can write literate lyrics to these songs I've heard played out.
 
The album opener, "Don't Get Bitter," hearkens back to the sound and feel of the Beatles' "Taxman," with Claire Adams' bass introducing the song. It's short, catchy, and lasts exactly as long as it should. If there were a single release off this album, this would be it.
 
This record is no-frills. It's the band pretty much as you hear them live, with the mix capturing a live in-studio sound. What strikes me listening to this record is that Katy and the Girls are not strictly a blues band. There's certainly an infusion of the blues in what they do, but, to my ears, they hearken back to some of the late ‘60s-early ‘70s hard rock bands like Mountain and Free, but with better lyrics and songs. I also hear some White Stripes in there somewhere. The melodies and harmonies are accentuated and they help blend with the powerful playing.
 
Katy Guillen, Claire Adams, and Stephanie Williams fill up a lot of space in these songs. It's obvious they are all very well in sync and have that great intuitive blend that comes from playing lots of live gigs together. I also like the changes in some of the songs, which go in directions you don't expect, like "Woke Up In Spain," which switches tempo adroitly.
 
The absolute masterpiece of this album is the last song, “Earth Angel.” (Note: The Deli KC premiered this song when it was first released as a single back in January. Here’s the link.) It's the longest tune on the album, but it doesn't feel long. It starts out with Guillen’s dirty-sounding guitar intro, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and builds in intensity as it moves along. Guillen takes one hell of a solo during this song. It's obvious from hearing this record that she is an excellent guitarist but never overplays during the songs. But when the song calls for a lengthy solo, like "Earth Angel," sparks fly. The rest of the band is equally as adept. Adams’ bass lines are nimble and fit right in place with Williams’ active drum work. It's a pleasure to hear a band that obviously loves to play together rolling through these songs. The album’s producer (Duane Trower at Weights & Measures Soundlab) captures the clarity of the music as well as the power of a live performance.
 
--Barry Lee

Barry Lee is an occasional contributor to The Deli KC and can often be found on the radio Sunday nights at 8 pm on KKFI 90.1 as host of the long-running free-form show,
Signal To Noise. In the daytime he attends to many tasks as Station Manager for KKFI. 
 
 
This weekend, Katy Guillen & the Girls will play two special performances at Knuckleheads. On Saturday, September 6, they will be throwing a CD release party with special guests The Old No. 5’s. Facebook event page. On Sunday, September 7, they will play an unplugged show for the first time, in Knuckleheads’ Gospel Lounge. This is a special benefit show for KKFI 90.1 FM. Facebook event page. Both shows begin at 8:00 p.m. Go see them and indulge yourselves.
 
 
 

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Katy Guillen & the Girls Runner Up in The Deli KC's 2013 Best Emerging Artist Poll

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Congrats to Katy Guillen & the Girls, The Deli KC’s second-place pick for 2013 Emerging Artist!
 
Though they’ve been a band for only a little over a year, Katy Guillen & the Girls have gained a strong and dedicated following in Kansas City and beyond. Guillen—whose blues/roots/rock/flamenco guitar skills far exceed that of most—has assembled a precise, expert rhythm section of Claire Adams on bass and Stephanie Williams on drums (see our 2012 interview with Williams) to set her songs in motion.
 
The trio recently took fourth place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis with its unique, daring interpretation of blues rock.
 
KG & the Girls released …and then there were three in summer 2013 (see our review here) and a single for “Earth Angel” early this year. If you want to find out more about them, we did a Q&A with them shortly after the album was released.
 
 
The group will be playing at Knuckleheads on Wednesday, February 26, with The Latenight Callers and John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
  
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays bass in The Philistines and Dolls on Fire, and drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric
 

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Song premiere: "Earth Angel" by Katy Guillen and the Girls

 
We are happy to premiere the latest track from Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Earth Angel.”
 
 
The trio releases the song right before descending upon Memphis to represent Kansas City in the International Blues Challenge next week. The KC kickoff show is this Saturday, January 18, at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. KG & the Girls will play the IBC as well as a few dates in Nashville and New Orleans over the next week.
 
“Earth Angel” is a ballad that successfully packs in every element that gives KG & the Girls its signature style, which is rooted in the blues but draws from rock and jazz influences. It begins with Guillen’s masterful guitar work and carefully weaves in her compelling vocals with  the always-on-point rhythm section of Claire Adams and Stephanie Williams. Though the track clocks in at nearly eight minutes, it gradually accelerates along with a balance of delicacy and force that gives it a satisfying sense of brevity and completeness.
 
The song was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights & Measures Soundlab.
 
The band is offering up the track as a free download for one week, so head over to their Bandcamp and get your download.
 
Also, head over to BB’s this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. to see them before they leave for Memphis. AJ Gaither will be opening up the show and joining the band on a few tunes. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is the editor-in-chief of The Deli Magazine—Kansas City. She plays drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. She thinks gingers are dumb.
 

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