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Artist of the Month
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Mikal Shapiro
"The Musical
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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 “sleep 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  


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scene blog
January 19, 2016
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There’s something special about a band made up of eight talented musicians who can speak together with one unique voice. Kansas City’s My Oh My is led by vocalist and guitarist A.M. Merker, and a couple months ago he and the band put out their second album, Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way. While the band’s 2014 release, Your Heart Not Mine, seemed to ask questions about the unpredictability of life, the 6 tracks released in December provide some of the answers. The album is incredibly reflective—nearly every song references “old times,” “what might have been,” or “yesterday” in some form or another. But the band makes a point to emphasize acceptance and appreciation for the past instead of regret. Imagine a wise monk writing profound lyrics for an Americana band—you’ll end up with lines like “a life worth living is a life eventually forgotten / and that’s okay with me” and “I believe the time we get is all that matters / It's good enough for little old me too / better be good enough for little old you.” Combined with full-bodied folk rock, Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way is a rare blend of confidence and humility. It’s a country music kind of straight-talk for rock and roll fans.
 
The album’s title track features a strong driving chorus that shakes the listener awake. Merker’s vocals recall the wild times of youth and offer a happy approval of the craziness of his current life—after all, there’s no crazy like being crazy in love. Backup vocals provided by Sarah Dolt, Stephanie Gaume, and Melissa Geffert add a special flavor to many of the songs, complete with old-timey “oos,” “ahhs,” and echoes. One of the female vocalists sings lead during the bridge in “Thief” with a voice that wouldn’t sound out of place on Broadway. My one complaint—we don’t get enough of her! Her powerful voice complements Merker’s smooth one, and it’s a treat to listen to them as a team.
 
A personal favorite is the third track, “Parade,” which progresses from a mid-tempo ballad to an upbeat breakdown delivered by Grant Buell on keyboard and Stephan Berry on guitar. If any listener hadn’t been convinced yet, “Parade” is proof that My Oh My are experts at their craft; the song is beautifully arranged and features a splendid melody. And when it’s time to close the curtain, the band sticks to sweet simplicity. Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way closes with the only acoustic song on the album, “That’s Alright By Me.” It’s a gentle conclusion to an album of grand rock and roll, but it feels right.
 
 
--Mary Kennedy
Mary is a lifelong Bostonian learning her way around Kansas City. She can often be found in an art museum, checking out local music, or taking a nap.
 

My Oh My’s next appearance in KC will be this Saturday at The Brick, with Pocket Vinyl (CT) and 40 Watt Dreams. Facebook event page. 

February 09, 2016
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Congratulations to New Baboons, our first Artist of the Month for the new year! Take the sounds of foundational rock bands and add in a few groovy washes of ‘60s psychedelia and you have New Baboons, an up-and-coming contender in KC’s rock ‘n roll scene. Read our Q&A with a few of the members, and check out their music.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
 
Elliott Seymour: We play rock and roll with melodies, hooks, and choruses. 
 
Adam Scheffler: New Baboons are a supple pillow of influence dragging over 60 years of crumpled rock ‘n roll bedding.
 
Tom Livesay: I guess I would describe our band as sounding more like rock from the late ‘60s to the early ‘90s than it does to anything since then.
 
The Deli: Give me some background info on New Baboons. How did the band come to be? Also, you used to be called Vidal Baboon. Why the name change?
 
Elliott: We all work together. One day Adam and I got together to run through some old songs we had each written. We just asked Tom and Josh if they were interested and we spent a few days just playing for hours. It fit really nicely together, so we just kept trying songs that Tom, Adam, and I had written over the years. Shockingly, very few people seemed to get the Vidal Baboon reference, so Josh suggested New Baboons as an easy switch. It has a rather evolutionary sound to it, I think. I was outvoted on my choice: The Pelican's Briefs...
 
Adam: We’ve been together for about 2 years, ever since we all talked about playing music together at Half Price Books where we all work. We changed our name because Vidal Baboon is a bad name for a band.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process? Does one person write everything or is it collaborative? 
 
Elliott: Tom, Adam, and I write our songs individually. We then present them to the band and we all just bang them out. I am usually inspired by whatever music I happen to be obsessing over at the moment. I'll just hear a progression or part of a melody or just catch a mood. I'll just play something over and over until it starts to take shape. I'll work with it until it finally sounds like a complete song. I usually come up with the lyrics as I'm going. I kind of dread writing lyrics.
 
Adam: Either Elliott, Tom, or myself write a song on our own, then we kind of come together and flesh out the parts. Then we play it to josh (ze drummer) who comes at it from a structural point of view, and then we flesh out tempos, mood changes, and vocal parts.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Elliott: I think recording an album in my basement on a little 8-track was pretty cool. It certainly isn't perfect, but it has a sound that lends itself well to the type of songs we chose to record. They are all pretty melodic and classically structured, so I think the songs speak for themselves. I'm pretty happy that we were able to play recordBar a few times before it closed. That place was the coolest and I think we're all pretty sad to see it go. 
 
Adam: Winning this here Deli KC thing and being able to play this long with everybody working at the same place.
 
The Deli:Tell us about your debut LP. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for getting your music out there? 
 
Elliott: Our first album, New Baboons, is pretty representative of our collective influences—mainly rock and roll from the ‘50s and ‘60s, with a little ‘90s sensibility thrown in there. People tend to hear Velvet Underground and ‘60s psych or garage. I hear some Elephant 6 sounds, especially in Tom's songs. We are going to record about 11 new songs at Temple Sounds recording studio sometime in the next month, so I think our next album will have a much different sound. The songs will still be the strength of what we do, but our production value should go up a few notches. 
 
Adam: The first album is a collection of songs everyone had lying around, and then once we connected, we added new songs to the mix. Also, Paige Newcomer played keys on all that and she added a lot to the sound of that album. Expect well-formed rock n roll songs that people call “quite good.”
 
Tom: I think our first album has lots of variety, partly due to the 3 songwriters. I hear VU, Television, and Rolling Stones influences, plus some garage band psychedelia, disco, and Motown. Sometimes there's some newer-sounding stuff mixed in there too.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Elliott: It's about a sense of friendship and community to me. We share venues and audiences and often hang out in the same places, you know, it's really cool. I use Bandcamp and Soundcloud to keep up with local bands, as well as patronizing local record stores and going to shows. Being part of something like that is really cool. I think only the most hipster of hipsters could be cynical about it. 
 
Adam: Going to shows, buying things made locally, connected with other musicians through social media or one's physical form.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
 
Elliott: Locally speaking, I love Thunderclaps. Those guys are friends and we've played a lot of shows together. I love rock and roll bands that are saturated in their influences. It just sounds so classic and pure. I'm also impressed with what I've heard from The Conquerors. They make songs with the ‘60s sensibility of singles, when singles still meant something. We've really enjoyed playing with SquidsKC—they are pros, and Dan Jones is a great songwriter. As far as non-local, I'm lately into rockabilly like Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran and Stray Cats. Also digging Dion and Buddy Holly. 
 
Adam: I enjoy Phantom Head quite a bit and Thunderclaps has been one of our bad-boi backbones. Non-local I'd say U.S. Girls’ new album Half Free had tickled me lately.
 
Tom: My favorite bands are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, but I've been inspired by Pavement, Cheap Trick, and The Pixies on certain songs. I don't get out enough to know what local bands I like other than SquidsKC.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Elliott: I'd love to play with The Velvet Underground and The Kinks. Brian Wilson would play piano instrumentals between sets and David Bowie would do some miming. 
 
Adam: Uh... I guess opening up for 10cc and Frank Ocean with Scott Walker closing it all up. Shit ya.
 
Tom: My fantasy bill would be opening for The Kinks and McCartney/Starr.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Elliott: Lennon/Macca (one hybrid face), Lou Reed, Brian Wilson and David Bowie. The Beatles are my favorite band and their influence is incalculable. Paul's bass lines and the way they used the studio and Ringo's fills and George's melodies and John being John, It's all so brilliant.
Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground for the massive grooves that they were capable of—Sister Ray is still untouched in that regard. Brian for giving us such beautiful sounds and David Bowie for being the one-of-a-kind musical icon that he was and will always be. All of his characters and mythologies are so much of what got me interested in rock and roll to begin with. He is endlessly fascinating. 
 
Adam: Lou Reed, ‘nuff said. Damo Suzuki from CAN. 1960s-era P.P. Arnold because I could listen to her voice all day. I guess last it would be Charles Mingus because I wanted to round this out nicely with some of my faves.
 
Tom: I would probably have Lennon, McCartney, Ray Davies, Jagger, and Richards. I know that's one too many.
 
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2016 and beyond?
 
Elliott: My goals are to have more band practices (always!) and play some different venues than we have. I want to get our second album out and listen to more music than I did in 2015. I think a split 7" with the Thunderclaps would be great. 
 
Adam: Goals and rock n roll have nothing to do with each other. Just make music.
 
Tom: My hope is to get more shows, record a second album that's better than the first, and just keep getting better.
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Elliott: Buy a lot of David Bowie records and listen to them.
 
Adam: Please learn from the world's wealth of point of views and catch yourself when you’re selfish, treat others better than you'd treat yourself, listen to New Baboons, listen to Frumpy Congo Love that's me, and stop being cool or trying cuz you're fucking everything up.
 
New Baboons are:
Elliott Seymour - guitar, vocals
Adam Scheffler - guitar, vocals
Tom Livesay - bass, vocals
Josh Klipsch - drums
 
Your next chance to see New Baboons live will be at Josey Records on February 26 with Braggers and The Red-Headed League. Check them out!
 
 

--Michelle Bacon 

February 08, 2016
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(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
“Heavier punk or metal is aggressive and comes from a need to tap into that primitive feeling inside of you,” says Justin Mantooth. Mantooth is the house engineer at Westend Recording Studios, a state-of-the-art recording facility tucked into the West Plaza area of town. Westend boasts professional recordings from some of KC’s most well-known rock lineage, from Shiner to Frogpond to Season To Risk, and current groups like Shy Boys, Radkey, and Making Movies. On Monday, the studio released a compilation called Amplify KC Volume 1, featuring some of the city’s heaviest acts.
 
Eleven forceful tracks make up the album, ranging from noise rock to punk to metal to hardcore, skillfully recorded, produced, and mixed by Mantooth and mastered by Mike Nolte (Eureka Mastering). Read our Q&A with Mantooth and get it as a free download here.
 
The Deli: One of the goals of this compilation was to highlight heavy-minded artists. Why do you think these artists tend to be overlooked? 
 
Mantooth: It's not for everyone. It’s less approachable than your electro-pop hipster thing might be to a casual listener. 
 
The Deli: This compilation also showcases the production quality from Westend. Tell us more about the facility.
 
Mantooth: Westend owner Mike Miller has built a professional environment that has a vibe of a time before streaming and MP3s. A time when it was more about the music and not YouTube views. We try to push for "real"-sounding records rather than slick overly produced ones. I take full advantage of new digital tools, don't get me wrong, but my goal isn't to quantize performances into robotic perfection. One thing that may set us apart from other studios is that we still use analog tape often, something that isn't really happening in most studios today. 
 
The Deli: How did you select these particular artists? Highlight a few of them.
 
Mantooth: We put the word out that we wanted to do this compilation and had bands submit to take part. From there I chose the bands I thought I could make a solid production with in a day’s worth of studio time. That wasn't easy to narrow down! I wish I could have recorded 20 bands, but you know it's a lot of work. I'll just highlight the first 3 tracks on the comp because I enjoy everyone on there. 
 
Hyborian: These guys can play and write very slick songs yet keep it heavy. The mix of smooth vocals over raging guitars and big drums is just excellent. 
 
Walking Oceans: Just listen to their entire track. It is a rollercoaster ride of badassery. Instrumental music that doesn't leave you wondering when the vocal section is going to start. Really good band. 
 
Bluehealer: These dudes are young and they play like it. With no fear at all. They throw down. Taking somewhat simple chords and ideas and just thrashing them hard. They remind me of some of my favorite bands and I enjoyed getting that sound for them. 
 
The Deli: What can we in the KC music scene do to support bands in the hardcore/metal/punk/heavy rock scene? What should bands do to get their name out there? 
 
Mantooth: That's a good question. The biggest thing is go out and see bands live. Buy their merch. We live in a time when there are a million reasons to just stay home. We don't have the same attendance at shows that was the norm 15 to 20 years ago. I think one good idea is having more diverse lineups at local shows. We don't need to see 5 similar metal bands at 1 show. I played a show on NYE with Jorge Arana Trio, Sharp Weapons, Sundiver, and Bummer. All very different, but it went really well. People like to hear diversity and sometimes bills are stacked with too much of the same. And usually half of the lineup is terrible just to keep the genres the same. 
 
The Deli: Name a few must-see KC bands that people may not know about. It doesn't have to be limited to bands on this compilation; perhaps even some that didn't make the cut.
 
Mantooth: All of these bands are bands I want people to know about. Bummer is a must see. They always bring the beef. Hammerlord didn't work out as far as being on the compilation, but they are great. 
 
Check out Amplify KC Vol. 1 on Bandcamp!
 
--Michelle Bacon
 

 

February 05, 2016
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David Bowie is a god of artistry, performance, and music. We are all created in his ever-changing image. Cool in our uncoolness, beautiful awkward outcasts, only appreciated and understood in our circles of the same. May it be Bowie as a distorted, sexy, sci-fi, glam-rock angel, or toying with the absurdity of gender and sexuality and what belongs to it, or Bowie as a poetic confrontational storyteller, or merely the voice of a collective us who seeks guidance and shelter from the normal; David Bowie changed the world.
 
On Sunday night, Bowie fans all over the metro came to pay tribute to our god. Upwards of 850 people showed up at the Uptown Theater, some with painted faces and all ready to do their part. This show was originally booked for Knuckleheads Saloon but moved when the demand became too great for it to handle. Our local musicians leading us in praise, calling themselves The Band That Fell To Earth, played more than 2 hours of Bowie—25 songs. And still left us wanting more. Always more Bowie.
 
Michelle Bacon, editor and writer for our very own Deli along with 90.9 The Bridge and Ink, on her cooler days plays bass for The Philistines and drums for Chris Meck and The Guilty Birds. She handpicked this very talented group of her friends and peers and coordinated a masterpiece of a tribute. Ultimately presented by The Deli KC, this performance was all created from the depths of her Bowie fandom. Kansas City thanks you, Michelle.
 
Michelle with her shiny hair, tight red pants, and perfectly played funky bass lines, wasn’t the only star onstage that night. Stephanie Williams was the other half of the rhythm section; she and her beautiful bangs play drums in Katy Guillen & the Girls. Kyle Dahlquist, of The Hardship Letters and Amy Farrand and the Like, took care of the synth and keys. Alex Alexander of Drop a Grand and SquidsKC melted faces with his lead guitar. Rich Wheeler, who plays with The People’s Liberation Big Band and Son Venezuela, was the brass section. Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt of the folk duo Betse & Clarke were the string section. Andrea Tudhope, Lauren Krum (The Grisly Hand, Ruddy Swain), and Rachel Christia (Hearts of Darkness) were personality and backup vocals. The main vocals were handled by Nathan Corsi of Not a Planet, Michael Tipton of Kodascope, and Steve Tulipana of Roman Numerals.
 
Besides the talent, the key to this tribute was the huge video screen behind the band (provided by XO Blackwater). It played clips of videos and live performances that went along perfectly with the set list all night. It gave us a needed tool to fully reminisce. It allowed us to compare dance moves between Bowie and whoever was taking on the vocals at the moment, which was a very fun element. The screen started the show with the “Lazarus” video—it sobered the crowd right up and we all remembered that we were in mourning.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth started their first set with “Let’s Dance.” The seats cleared and I became fully aware of what a special night this was going to be. Steve Tulipana carried the brunt of the lead vocals. I have been lucky enough to catch him in a couple of tribute projects, one being a Joy Division tribute. He became Ian Curtis that night and blessed us with the transformation into David Bowie on Sunday night. Steve brings icons back to life, just for one day. His moves, his vocals, and emphasis were captivating. He was David Bowie and the crowd loved it.
 
“Heroes” has been such a covered and loved track for so long. I’ve heard it recorded and covered live so many times. But something felt different about it on Sunday. This anthem, professing love and proclaiming individuality and how truly heroic these things are, is who David Bowie was. It is an anthem to me. It means so much. And Rich’s horn during this song was everything. Bless him and his contribution to this project.
 
Popular favorites “China Girl,” “Young Americans,” and “Modern Love” turned the crowd into a dance party. Old and young dancing and singing every lyric wildly at each other. But the real shock was the last song of the first set, where Nathan Corsi captivated the crowd with his vocal interpretation of “Life on Mars.” No one around me spoke. Some had tears in their eyes. Dressed in suspenders with his beautiful brunette mane, Nate was not Bowie. He was a fan. He was paying tribute. His voice represented how we all felt. He left his crowd blown away. We all needed an intermission to gather ourselves.
 
We came back from intermission with “Fame” and the stripper moves came pouring out. Michelle and Kyle became Nine Inch Nails on “I’m Afraid of Americans” and I cannot stress enough how spot-freaking-on this was. During “Suffragette City,” the screen above showed clips from Labyrinth and everyone took notice.
 
“Sound and Vision,” which is one of my personal favorite tracks, was done justice by Kyle on the keys. He was a vision (see what I did there?). “Space Oddity,” was taken on by Nate and Andrea. Andrea was center stage and ready to do her part to pay homage with Nate to her left. I felt nervous as these vocals felt like maybe they would be a stretch for anyone to take on. I was so wrong. They, along with the string and horn section, took us to church and made us all believers. It was one of many “WOW” moments of the show. But, not to be outdone, “Moonage Daydream” produced its own stars. Alex seemed to have been taken over by some sort of rock guitarist demon and Clarke broke his bow. Now THAT is rock ‘n roll.
 
The Band That Fell To Earth played an encore of “Rock n Roll Suicide” and “Under Pressure.” Michelle began the last song of the night with that bass line we all know so well. We prepared ourselves for the grand finale. The backup vocalists danced. All performers of the night graced the stage. David and Freddie took over the screen and we all celebrated, together.
 
David, thank you. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the courage. Thank you for instilling the belief that we are all ok as we are, no matter what that might be. Thank you for changing us and the world. RIP.
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts
 

 

February 05, 2016
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Starting February 4, 2016, The Deli KC will be appearing the first Thursday of every month on Under the Radar with John Todd on KKFI 90.1 FM. A HUGE thanks to John for allowing us to take over part of his radio show once a month.
 
In addition, we'll be taking the music submitted and posting it as podcasts to The Deli KC's Soundcloud page. These will be available to the general public for streaming and free download.
So ... WE NEED YOUR MUSIC. New or old, we don't care. Send MP3s to thedelikcpodcast@gmail.com. Whereas we will be playing selections of what is submitted on KKFI, ALL submissions will be included on the podcasts.
 

--The Deli KC Staff 

January 24, 2016
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