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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Artists on Trial: Red Velvet Crush

Artists on Trial: Red Velvet Crush

If you seek hooky, strong rock anthems, look no further than KC’s own Red Velvet Crush. Fronted by veteran vocalist Jillian Riscoe, the young band has already received recognition around town (Riscoe won female vocalist of the year and the group won best acoustic performance of the year in the 2013 Project Backstage Midwest Rock Awards). Now, the five-piece group is getting ready to debut its EP Smoke & Mirrors. We talk with Riscoe and guitarist Daniel Mendala about the album and what they have coming down the line.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Red Velvet Crush: Pop/rock with hints of punk, dance, electronic and hard rock mixed with what we do.
The Deli: Tell us about your upcoming EP Smoke & Mirrors. What can we expect?
RVC: Chapters of what we've been writing over the last year while putting the band together. We (Riscoe and Mendala) wrote and recorded the whole EP at yellowDOGstudios in Austin, TX with producer Dave Percefull and studio drummer Josh Center. Smoke and Mirrors is the just the first of what's to come.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?

RVC: Creating genuine support and networks of music loving people. Going out to shows and supporting bands that are working to get to the next level.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?

RVC: Nick Marshall and the Evalyn Awake crew, Beautiful Bodies, Rocker Lips, Jonathan Theobald, just to name a few.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
RVC: Jillian: In This Moment, Deftones, Lana del Rey.
Daniel: Eskimo Callboy, Young Guns, Our Lady Peace.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

RVC: Jillian: Christina Aguilera.
Daniel: Our Lady Peace.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
RVC: Jillian: Christina Aguilera, Axl Rose, Steven Tyler, Katy Perry.
Daniel: Axl Rose, Raine Maida, Duff McKagan and Lisa Loeb.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?
The Deli: What other goals does Red Velvet Crush have for this year?
RVC: To promote Smoke and Mirrors, finish building our stage show, tour in the fall, and step back in the studio at the end of the year. Plus, Daniel and I are doing a lot of writing for Red Velvet Crush and for other artists.

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

RVC: Dreams to realities.
Red Velvet Crush is:
Jillian Riscoe – vocals, guitar, keys
Daniel Mendala – guitar
Kelsey Cook – drums/percussion
Josh Colburn – keys, synth, guitar
Bill Wald – bass
Make sure you hit up the release of Smoke & Mirrors this Saturday, June 15, at Czar. Doors at 5:30, show at 6:00. Red Velvet Crush will be playing with I Am Nation, Fight The Quiet (Nashville), The Amends (Colorado), and Root & Stem. Presale tickets are $5 for general admission and $10 at the door. You can also order a $15 presale ticket, which comes with a limited edition autographed copy of the new EP and a vinyl sticker. Order tickets here. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
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