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 Lucky - The Lucky (EP)

Album review: The Lucky - The Lucky (EP)

The Lucky does not waste anyone’s time getting into the nitty-gritty of its self-titled EP. A four-count of fast, punky guitars drives you straight into the opening track, whimsically titled “Lalalalike You,” a cute little diddy about—not love—simply lalalaliking someone. Lead primarily by the vocal work of Jason McKee, his female counterpart Camilla Camille, chimes in every now and then to boost the anthem into a high-speed duet.

“Lalalalike You” is promptly followed up with “Owl & Me.” This song slows things down a bit… but only a bit. Camille’s sensual, breathy vocals on the verses transmute into a full-blown rocker-chick sound for the chorus. “Can’t Shake You” is next. Again, Camille voices this song. It’s equally as charming as the first song. With a chorus of “la la la’s,” the song quickly anchors itself into that part of the brain where songs tend to get stuck.
The final track, “Mad One,” brings up the lively grungy guitars every loves (to some degree). A classy guitar solo spins the song into something that can easily be taken as a single. This song is easily a depiction of what The Lucky is all about.
I have yet to mention drummer Jonathan Thatch’s work on these tracks. The drum work is as simple as you’d want it to be—consistent throughout the entire four-track EP. Executed flawlessly to maintain the powerful punk sounds of the songs, the drums add a powerful element.
If you’re not listening for it, you won’t miss the bass riffs. The band is simply a three-piece, omitting the bass. The guitar work keeps the listener at full attention. The album sounds ultimately lo-fi, in terms of recording quality. But you wouldn’t want to listen to The Lucky any other way. The fast-paced rock ‘n roll songs are boosted with a lo-fi sound, making it seem as though The Lucky is performing right in front of you, at a bar or in your garage; a more intimate sound for the band.
The Lucky’s self-titled album was recorded by Paul Malinowski at Massive Sound and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights and Measures Soundlab.
The Lucky will release its debut EP tomorrow night, Friday, February 15, at recordBar. The Lover’s Rock show begins at 10:00 pm with The Heavy Figs, followed by The Lucky, and rounded out by Schwervon!. Tickets are available at the door or purchase here for $7.

--Steven Ervay

Steven is the intern of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli - Kansas City. He can't go to 21+ shows yet and that bums him out.  

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