Artist of the Month

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November 2015
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 

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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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