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September 2014
Katy Guillen & the Girls
"Katy Guillen & the Girls
"
mp3
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: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

Album review: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

 
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Speaking personally, I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been on my list of most anticipated local albums for 2013. I’ve been a fervent fan of Clairaudients since their days under the moniker The Atlantic. I’ve seen the band add members to their lineup (Chase Horseman joined at the beginning of 2013), perform numerous times at numerous venues, and now I’ll see them through their first album release.
 
I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been in the works for quite some time. And after listening to the album several times, it’s easy to say that the wait was well worth it. The album has so many subtle intricacies and deep meanings that anyone can tell it wasn’t recorded on the fly—a lot of thought and heart went into the album.
 
Clairaudients introduces itself with a nearly four-minute song simply entitled “Intro,” a chilling, soothing number which serves its purpose well as a lead-off track. With nothing but harmonized vocals and twinkling guitars, you’ll get lost in the ambiance.
 
Keeping in style, the first track fades out and another calming track slide into slot two. “Like a Song” is full of metaphors, which in my case, are up for interpretation. It’s the kind of song that you can listen to to find meaning, or a song that you can just jam to.
 
The album picks up halfway through with “Cellar.” This song easily takes the cake for heaviest track on the album. Vocalist Patrick Robinson definitely brings out his angry voice here. Deep, gravely, and abrasive sounds pour out of his mouth as the rest of the band falls in suit, striking heavy chords and pounding big drums. 
 
And again, before you know it, the tempo slows back down with “Broken Mend,” a solemn track full of heart-melting lyrics. The last track opens up with a strong organ chord, and is quickly followed by a jaunty guitar tune. “Back to the Sun” is a seven-minute anthem, and seems to carry a much lighter attitude than that of the other four. It appears to be more laid back and cheerful due in part to the upbeat, intricate mesh of instrumentals.
 
As I’ve mentioned already, I’m a Loudmouth is a great piece of work. There is so much content and impact stuffed into a small five-song album. The incredible musical accompaniment that is created by this sextet is something to be in awe of in itself, with the added element of Robinson’s lyrics.
 
I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet was recorded and produced at Massive Sound Studios by Jeff Pickman.
 
Tonight is the long-awaited release party for I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet. Clairaudients will be celebrating at Davey’s Uptown this evening with special guests Not A Planet and we are voices. Doors open at 8, show at 9. This is an 18+ show; $12 if under 21, $10 for 21+. All attending ticket holders will receive a digital download of the album. Facebook event page.
 
 
--Steven Ervay 
 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

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