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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  


Welcome to the new Deli Charts, organized by genre and scene.

To rank the artists with the star system go to the Top 50.


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The Folks at The Deli

April 18, 2016
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Check out the SXSW 2016 issue of The Deli Mag, now available online, and distributed in print next week in Austin during SXSW's Music Week. You'll find copies of it also at our SXSW Stompbox Exhibit and Synth Space!

Yes, we've done things a little differently this time: we shaped this rag the size of a 7" record, and created a "concept" issue almost entirely dedicated to Psychedelia, with a feature by our editor Brian Chidester about how this musical genre has become more and more influential in the new millennium. The two cover artists, Yonatan Gat and Lewis Del Mar, serve as the two extremes within which Psychedelia has expanded in recent years.

As usual, the issue also gathers:

- A lot of emerging artists (mostly psych this time),
- The winners of The Deli's regional Year End Polls for Emerging Artists,
- The winners of The Deli's Best of 2015 Readers' Polls,
- A section dedicated to the SXSW Stompbox Exhibit and Synth Space

We hope you enjoy the read and get to know some awesome new music.

The Folks at The Deli

March 09, 2016
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Temp Tats describe themselves as “somewhat spastic R&B.” I don’t think a better description of this sound could possibly be put into words. Their debut release, Ions, was released on December 14. In my own words, this album is confusing, poetic, psychedelic R&B. As soon as you get into the groove of any given track, it spins you around leaving you to wonder how you got there. You just sit and groove and try to find the root of the song you were just so into. WHOA. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
 
The opening track to Ions is “Laser Lites.” Luke Waye’s sweet and smooth spirals are our anchor as we swoon over Eric Schuman’s vocals. “In the most perfect worst way” is the lyric that takes us out of the track over Chris Paul’s psychedelic guitar. Chris nails this sound, not overpowering. It sucks you in and leaves you tipsy. This track, while very good and currently stuck in my head, is not indicative of Ions.
 
The most interesting track, in my humble fan’s opinion, is “Cinnamon Spices.” This track was recorded by the locally famed Jorge Arana. If there is a genre for this sound, he might be the king of it. The track opens gently: Joel Schuman tickles the keys, you prepare for some sweet R&B. Luke layers cymbals underneath. Chris drops out and gives Eric some space for his smooth stylings. Eric takes you away with one poetic, run-on, beatnik sentences that you completely agree with. About halfway through the track, closing the second verse, something happens that changes everything. Wait for it, “no. NO. NO. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!” Eric lets out a metal wail. What? And that introduces the second half of this track that just turns into a guitar and keyboard explosion. It left me dazed, wobbly, and out of control.
 
My favorite track on Ions is “Slackjaw.” Let me be honest here, because it’s sexy and it makes me feel things. The fusion of every rule they break is so good. I’m exhausted listening to Luke. This track is nothing without his intensity. Joel’s keys seem to be placed just perfectly, they mellow out the magic chaos Luke and Chris are creating. The part that makes me feel things, Eric’s tenor and his lyrics on this track. His I-don’t-care, but-my-heart-is-broken, but “I am counting down the days until the next jailbreak” confidence. Gets me.
 
Fun Fact about Temp Tats: two of the members—Luke Waye and Eric Schuman—were the founding fathers of a little band called Ambulants. Self-described as grunge/jazz, they shared a few shows and a split 7” with the Jorge Arana Trio. That sound still resonates a bit, breaking rules and leaving me a little shaky, but in a much better way. Well done. I cannot wait to catch this party live. I’ll double up on my Ritalin dose when I get home.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 

Your next chance to see Temp Tats will be this Saturday at Davey’s Uptown. They’ll be playing with a host of other KC groups in support of Bernie Sanders. The BERNing Man KC rally starts at 4 pm, with $10 suggested donation going toward Sanders’ campaign fund. Facebook event page. 

March 08, 2016
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Under the Big Oak Tree has all the makings of a solid bluegrass/folk collective, from dulcet vocal harmonies to mandolin flourishes and a foundational upright bass line. The trio’s latest album Local Honey—released early this year on Mudstomp Records—showcases these elements in a vibrant, lush sonic atmosphere. Find out more about the group in our Q&A with songwriter Simon Fink.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
 
Simon Fink: Rustic melodies; warm, tremulous singing; lyrics that tilt toward the literary: Gillian Welch, Dolly Parton, and Leonard Cohen walk in to a bar—or onto a front porch, maybe... 
 
The Deli: Give me some background info on Under the Big Oak Tree.
 
Simon: About 4 years ago, I answered a Craigslist ad from a guitar player who wanted to start a bluegrass band for his daughter, who he said was learning to sing and and play guitar. From the sound of it, I pictured a guy with a 15-year-old daughter who wanted to be Taylor Swift. They turned out to be two of the nicest and most generous people I’ve ever met (Kristin Hamilton and Rocky Cathcart, who moved to Texas). As I got to know Kristin’s approach to singing, her voice became a great inspiration for new songs and arrangements. We added Doug Ward on bass pretty much immediately, who fit right in to what we were doing and helped expand on it.
 
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process? Does one person write everything or is it collaborative? 
 
Simon: I write most of the songs, and Doug contributes too. A lot of my inspiration comes from thinking about the sound and dramatic potential of the group—the voices and instruments. For me it’s all about the meaningful interaction between words and music that, in turn, creates something greater—the alchemy of songwriting. Though I don’t purposely avoid it, I don’t generally write from autobiography. Lyrics, for me, are an heightened kind of language. A lot of my reference points are in (written) poetry, and you can see the names of certain poets who served as inspiration in some of the song titles on the new album.
 
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
 
Simon: I think both of our albums are pretty darn good, and I’m proud of them. We still have a lot more to explore.
 
The Deli:Tell us about your newest album, Local Honey. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for getting your music out there? 
 
Simon: Expect a genuine singing voice embedded in sweet, rootsy acousticness. People tend to instantly recognize a kind of welcoming wholesomeness in our music. I hope they hear that, and I hope they hear some of the richer, more challenging layers to the songs and ideas as well.
 
We’re based in St. Joe, but we hope to get the word out and play more in KC and Lawrence.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Simon: I’m not a huge fan of that phrase because it makes it sound like one more grim duty (“Eat your vegetables.”), when, in fact, participating in music—especially “locally”—is essentially joyous and enlivening. There was a well-known ethno-musicologist in the ‘70s who found that worldwide and across cultures, people’s peak life experiences tended to have one thing in common: music. I’m always heartened by the people, especially non-musicians, who feel like they get something out of our shows and recordings.
 
I do worry that many people don’t seem have a place in their life to really listen anymore. When I read profiles of great contemporary thinkers and doers, their response to, “What are you listening to?” is so often a podcast or audio book. The status of music kind of peaked with the Romantics. In the 19th century, it was considered the greatest and most vital of all art forms. Now, music for its own sake (apart from film, TV, commercials, etc.) no longer seems to fit into our lives so well—and yet that’s exactly why it’s still so essential.
 
The music industry is a mess at the moment. But every community needs dedicated, local musicians. Individual fans can help by pitching in to ad hoc crowdfunding campaigns, etc., but it’s hard to imagine a local scene of quality and consequence really being sustained that way.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
 
Non-local: Matt Blake, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Birds of Chicago (just heard at Folk Alliance)
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Simon: Opening for Bob Dylan. Accompanied by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. On a tour of great American National Parks. Sunrise and sunset shows. Staging by Julie Taymor. Cloud-scape by Vik Muniz. Free admission and snacks. And bourbon.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Simon: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, Lou Reed: some of my favorite American songwriters.
 
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2016 and beyond?
 
Simon: Record some live videos of the band; start a sponsored concert series; collaborate with local musicians on a project of new songs about St. Joe, MO; facilitate a collaboration between the KC folk and classical scenes; get an intern; get our music out to as many people as will listen and win you over as a UBOT fan. Yes, YOU, dear reader. 
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 
Simon: I have tried to write paradise
Do not move
Let the wind speak
that is paradise
-Ezra Pound
(mic drop…)
 
 
 
You’re in luck—Under the Big Oak Tree will be playing this weekend in Lawrence. Catch them at The Bottleneck on Saturday night with Kelly Hunt and Kansas City Hustle. Music starts at 9:00 pm. Facebook event page.
 
 
 

--Michelle Bacon 

March 04, 2016
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Deli Readers,

Our Best of KC Poll for Emerging Artists has been—as usual—a lengthy and painstaking journey which took us through prairies of numbers, horizons filled with band names, and a dense (mostly), joyous rain of music. We have finally reached our destination and we can announce the final results!

1. Yes You Are

Yes You Are’s (pictured above) brand of ethereal rock is a magnetic, encapsulating experience from start to finish. Kianna Alarid and Jared White craft purposeful pop songs surrounded by transcendental swaths of sound. After quickly pronouncing themselves onto the Kansas City scene and becoming a fan favorite, they gained national traction by supporting Neon Trees on their summer 2015 tour. The band recently made its debut appearance at The Midland opening for Lucius, winning over an even stronger KC contingent.

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2. HMPH!

When you think about complex instrumental music, you don’t immediately think it would necessarily be palatable to the masses. But much like the group’s melodies and rhythms, HMPH! twists experimental math rock into fascinating, engaging tunes. HMPH!’s debut album Headrush—released last summer on Haymaker Records—made a name for itself on a number of Best of 2015 lists (including ours!)

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3. Missouri Loves Company

Missouri Loves Company jumpstarted the new year by earning readers’ votes as the winner of our 2015 Emerging Artists’ poll. The six-piece plans to release a full-length album soon, having recently released songs from its latest studio sessions. Be sure to check them out in KC in April at Davey’s Uptown, and look out for new music from them soon.

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Check out our poll's top 15 below, and don't forget to get even deeper, exploring all the finalists organized by genre:

POP – POST ROCK – PUNK/METAL – ROOTS – ROCK

[MICHELLE, PLEASE UPDATE THE HEADPHONE LINKS IN THIS CHART!]

BEST OF 2015 POLL FOR
EMERGING KC ARTISTS
****** FINAL RESULTS - TOP 20 ******

 
ARTIST
J
OS
R
TOT
 
1
Yes You Are
10.5
 
1
11.5
2
HMPH!
7.5
 
0.013
7.513
icon
3
Missouri Loves Company
3
 
2
5
icon
4
Rachel Mallin & the Wild Type
3
1.5
0.162
4.662
icon
5
Via Luna
3.5
 
0.175
3.675
icon
6
Hyborian
3
 
0.163
3.163
7
Sie Lieben Maschinen
3
 
0.097
3.097
icon
 
Earth Spun Occupants
 
3
0.053
3.053
icon
9
The Widow's Ride
3
 
0.039
3.039
icon
10
Merit Badge
3
 
0.038
3.038
11
The Roseline
3
 
0.016
3.016
12
Sunday Heroine
3
 
0.002
3.002
icon
13
Berwanger
3
 
0
3
icon
14
AJ Young
2.5
 
0.016
2.516
icon
15
Sara Morgan
1
 
1.5
2.5
16
Modern Day Fitzgerald
2
 
0.5
2.5
17
Westerners
2
 
0.5
2.5
icon
18
Kangaroo Knife Fight
2
 
0.231
2.231
icon
19
Doris
2
 
0.23
2.23
icon
20
Spencer Mackenzie Brown
2
 
0.142
2.142
Legend: J = Jurors,
R = Deli Readers, OS = Open Submissions

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If you wonder how this chart came into existence, here is how it all went down: first, we let the local bands submit their music (for free), and got our Deli editors to pick the nominees. Then we polled a list of 15+ K.C. scene expert (our jury) and asked them to nominate 3 more bands of their choice each (3 points for the top choice, then 2 and 1). Then we polled our readers. We tried to keep things open for each single genre, from Pop to Roots to Metal. 

If you are a geek interested in all the subtelties related to how this poll works, you can read its rules here (happy reading!). But if all you care about is the awesome new music KC produced in the year 2015, this list is all you need. Enjoy!

Many Thanks to our Jurors: Ann Stewart, Barry Lee, Bill Brownlee, Brenton Cook, Chris Haghirian, Dedric Moore, Don Simon, John Todd, Justin Mantooth, Michael Byars, Rhonda Lyne, and Sondra Freeman.

Hope you'll find some awesome new artists you weren't aware of!

The Deli's Staff

March 01, 2016
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Fullbloods are back.
 
After their 2013 streaming-only release, Making Face, the band, fronted by Ross Brown (The Empty Spaces, solo work) seemed to go quiet. Until recently, that is. Rocketing out of retirement, Fullbloods brings us Mild West, an eleven-track, forty-minute album chock full of melodic Midwestern surf-rock via High Dive Records. This album marks a departure from their old sound, that funky yet smooth indie music. This album is much more experimental, adding more depth, new sounds, and creative hooks, Mild West is a new Fullbloods.
 
Noodling their way into the first track, Money, Fullbloods fully embody that previously mentioned Midwestern surf rock. The kind of music that you expect to hear exuding from a garage on a 70-degree day in April. It’s punchy, it’s soulful, it’s ironically braggadocious, as much of the album turns out to be.
 
This is the sort of album that you roll your windows down for. It harkens daydreams of cool air and bright sunlight. The riffing of the guitars pushes your car along the boulevard as the light drumming stirs up your imagination. Quirky, inconsistent keys pop in and out, offering a whole new ingredient to the song’s recipe. Sometimes the keys make the songs feel futuristic, such as in “Neverminded.” And yet, at other times, the keys take on an almost extraterrestrial voice, like in “Kind of Gentlemen” and “Anima Mundi.”
 
The album doesn’t truly slow down until the seventh track, “Caught A Feeling.” This song’s haunting harmonies are found throughout the track. The next ‘ballad’ won’t be found until the outro of the album, the final track, “Air Conditioner.”
 
Altogether, Mild West offers up exactly what listeners expect from KC-based High Dive Records. An album that mixes perfectly on a playlist with Shy Boys, The ACB’s, Rev Gusto, and Empty Moon. The album carries a light-hearted vibe with self-deprecating lyrics. Clever and honest songwriting lends itself well to the feel of the album. Mild West is Fullbloods’ best album to date.
 
 
 
--Steven Ervay
Steven lives the agency life by day, and hustles music by night at The Record Machine. If he's not going to your show, he's probably playing frisbee with his dog or elbow deep in some chicken wings.
 

Fullbloods celebrated the release of Mild West in KC over the weekend, and are starting a tour tonight in Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, and Des Moines. They’ll be back in KC on St. Patrick’s Day at The Riot Room. 

February 29, 2016
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