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The Old No. 5s
The Old No. 5s’ second album, Steam, is first and foremost a blues record. But it shouldn't be pigeonholed. A self-proclaimed rock/roots trio, members Brock Alexander (guitar/lead vocals), Derek Tucker (bass/vocals), and Aaron Thomas (percussion/vocals) prove they can play the blues with the best of them, but also have the chops to bust out some serious soul, bring the funk, or simply construct a nice power pop song.
The majority of the 11 tracks are fairly straightforward blues rockers, beginning with the album's first song, “Going Nowhere.” A perfect appetizer, it gives listeners a taste of what can be heard throughout the album: solid vocals, nimble guitar, and one of the best rhythm sections you'll find on a local or national release this year. There is an undeniable Stevie Ray Vaughan influence on this and several of the other true blues tunes, including “Starting to Show,” “Easy,” and the harder rocking “Hill Country.” While few guitarists can match his licks, Alexander certainly dials in Vaughan's tone, and has plenty of salty riffs himself.
Alexander's vocal style varies. On “Easy” he is confident and powerful, channeling a cocky Jimi Hendrix. He shows off a deep soul sound during “Keep Lovin' Me Baby.” On “Little Man,” a jazzier number, he is a bit more transparent and vulnerable, much like a young John Mayer. While he is very capable at each, I couldn't help wondering which one is Alexander’s real voice.
The standout track on Steam has to be “Barn Party.” A tightly wound ball of energy, it combines ferocious slide guitar (sounding very similar in this case to a pedal steel), brilliant bass, and a shuffling beat to create foot-stomping fun. Reminiscent of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, it starts uptempo and only gets faster, ending at a blistering pace. Be sure to have your air instruments handy for this one.
The Old No. 5s display a more unique style on the album's final track, “Just the Way I Am.” While remaining true to the band's bluesy vibe, the song has a catchy pop sensibility—with an impressive jam in the middle—and should appeal to a wide audience. The trio seems to find their own identity here, something I hope to hear more of on future recordings. 
Steam is filled with truly fantastic music that taps into several genres. The songwriting and execution is top-notch. The expertise and use of each instrument, tempo changes, and drawn-out solos make it one of the most enjoyable local albums I've heard in some time. As the band continues to mature and distinguish itself, The Old No. 5s should become a force to be reckoned with—both locally and beyond.

--Brad Scott 

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

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The Deli's folks

November 24, 2015

Emerging Bands and Artists,

The Deli's Regional Year End Polls for Emerging Artists are back!



Ugh, do you REALLY want to know? The process to determine these lists is rather complicated, and occurred to The Deli's fouding fathers during a collective nightmare back in 2006 - if you want to try and get your head around it be our guest and go here. But if all you are interested in is to be part of it and get some free exposure, then STAY AWAY FROM THAT PAGE!!!

Eligibility: To be eligible, your band needs to 
1. be based in one of the scenes we cover (list here), 
2. have music available online
3. have played live at least once in 2013
4. Have less than 15k Facebook friends. By the way, fake Facebook friends make us angry. 

The first phase of this poll allows ANY BAND OR SOLO ARTIST to submit their music for a minimum of 3 spots in the pool of the Best of your city nominees. This phase starts right now! 


The Deli Peeps

November 20, 2015

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. 

November 23, 2015

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


November 19, 2015

“I don’t want it if it’s just for fun,” sings Toughies vocalist Carl Smith. The lyric echoes throughout “What Are Hands For?”, the second track off the band’s debut EP. Ironically, Tough Enough is a great deal of fun, complete with indie pop chords, full-chorus sing-alongs, and an adorable fluffy cat featured on the back of the album art. Yet this lyric perhaps encapsulates the tone of the EP’s 6 tracks—though the music is catchy and bright, it’s not ‘just for fun.’ In fact, the band has produced something of meaningful substance.
The Lawrence-based quartet released Tough Enough in September of this year. In addition to vocalist Smith, the band consists of Brad Girard on guitar, Joe Gronniger on bass, and Caroline Lohrenz on drums. The EP’s opening track, “Sloane,” immediately introduces us to Toughies as a unified team. Listening to the strong vocals sung in unison supplemented with the image of a wandering cowboy on the cover of the album, one can’t help but imagine singing this song while sitting with friends around a campfire.
Tough Enough explores that in-between space traveled by so many trying to navigate young adulthood: the sadness of a break-up, followed by self-reflection, leading to sweetly sincere attempts to mend the heartache by winning that someone back. On “Birthday Party,” Smith sings from the perspective of a man who hopes an ex will show up to his party and witness how much he has matured over the past year of separation. It’s sentimental, comedic, and honest all at once. However, the somewhat tender nature of many of the lyrics by no means makes the music of Tough Enough cheesy or dull—this is indie-pop, after all.
“Horsefeather” provides a dose of funk halfway through the EP that shows off the instrumental strength of each member of the band, and “Cheek” is a favorite that closes the EP on a high note. Listen closely to the last few seconds after the music stops and you can hear one of the Toughies mumble “we can go” amidst giggles, half-jokingly implying the recording was so flawless there’s nothing left for the band to do to raise the bar. Tough Enough is a skillfully constructed and warm introduction to a band we’ll hopefully hear much more of.
--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.

You only have one more chance to catch Toughies before the end of the year—this Friday at Replay Lounge. They will be appearing with Oil Boom and Monster. Facebook event page. 

November 17, 2015

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 

November 16, 2015

Who is your favorite emerging Kansas City-area artist on this list?

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