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September 2014
Katy Guillen & the Girls
"Katy Guillen & the Girls
"
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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: The Quivers - Gots To Have It!

Album review: The Quivers - Gots To Have It!

(Photo by Steve Gardels)

The Quivers' new EP, aptly titled Gots To Have It!, serves up 13 minutes of raucous music that you can dance to, straight up!

Track 1: “Blue Light”
Abe Haddad’s push and pull Stratocaster guitar intro on “Blue Light” is like the turnover of an old dormant Studebaker that has finally been untarped for a summer of hot, late night love runs. Bernie Dugan’s backbeat sets the idle on this Midwestern tavern dance number that also reveals lead vocalist/bassist Terra Peal’s ability to blend her strong, soulful voice—which somewhat resembles Pat Benatar’s—with her patent banshee screams that could have crumbled the former Iron Curtain, had it not been for David Hasselhoff’s embryonic Berlin Wall performance…

Track 2: “He Had It Comin’”
With its reserved country pickin’, hip-poppin’ diner waitress vocals, and county fair carousel keyboards, “He Had It Comin’” will keep your feet movin’ and your hair swishin’ back and forth, even if the lyrics aren’t really appropriate for either. Haddad’s honky-tonk guitar work, Todd Grantham’s playful keyboard licks—all infused with traces of soul—make delightful, each time the refrain comes around so you can sing, “He had it comin’… He had it comin’…”

Track 3: “I Sleep Here”
“I Sleep Here” may musically sound like some kind of mash up of Huey Lewis, Booker T., and Tommy James & the Shondells, but it very much stands on its own as pure Quivers' canon…and a song that you can’t help but grin ear-to-ear and wiggle to. Grantham sings lead on this ‘upbeat’ ballad, assuring us, “It’s pretty clear. I live alone with bravado, and ignore the phone.” And yes, that is Terra Peal growling out “Lordy, lordy!” in the background, tougher than Billy Idol ever was. That redheaded vixen sounds very much capable of damaging something if provoked.

Track 4: “What Went Wrong”
Peal struts her country vocal sensibilities to the pattering player piano saloon riffs in “What Went Wrong,” a song that will surely leave a dance floor full of boot scuffs and whiskey splatters. When Peal confesses, “I’ve been bad all my life,” it can make for some anxiousness, because her singing lends to many desires in the minds of many. Musically, perhaps the most contemporarily solid track on the EP, The Quivers show off their prowess and versatility, yet again.

Track 5: “Gots To Have It!”
“Gots To Have It!” bursts forth in purely fun, sock hop n’ roll fashion. Heavy snare hits (surely with some drumstick points toward the crowd), jogging keyboard chords, stacked vocals, and a tipsy rockabilly guitar solo that gets all up in your face and absolutely gets it done. This closing number burns a candle in the Church of Eighties Ending Credits Movie Songs ... Wait. It didn’t appear at the end of a John Cusack movie? Well, it should have!

The Quivers play rock n’ roll that is sometimes soulful, sometimes rockabilly, sometimes country, sometimes…well—sometimes it’s hard to classify just what they do best! One thing is for certain; they are the perfect entertainers for pretty much any given night. You will smile, and you will quiver, when that band—the one straight from the garage on Sex Appeal St.— thrusts upon you when you – Gots To Have It!

You, too, can be rocked by The Quivers tomorrow night, August 15, at Aftershock for the KC Wednesday Night Jamboree. They'll be performing with The Cave Girls. They'll also be playing at Greaserama on Sunday, September 2.

--Christian Anders Liljequist

Christian is a freelance writer. He will graduate from UMKC in the spring of 2013 with a BA in Communication Studies (Journalism & Mass Communication).

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