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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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Artists on Trial: Nikki and the Rooftop Punch

Artists on Trial: Nikki and the Rooftop Punch

 
(Photo by Bittersweet Symphony Productions)
 
It seems like everyone wants to start a side project at some point. When a frontperson does it, the music usually sounds a whole lot like his/her band. Which is great, if you want to hear more of that. But every once in awhile, a combination of creativity erupts into a completely different style. Nikki and the Rooftop Punch—the brand-new duo of Nicole Springer and Tim Jenkins of The Clementines—is plain and simple stripped-down garage rock, in the best possible way. Jenkins electrifies his guitar sound with catchy, bluesy riffs, while Springer pulls a Phil Collins move, only with intense, raw, shattering vocals. We talk with Springer about the band’s imminent debut show (tonight!) and what’s to come.
 
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
 
Nicole Springer: It's loud, raw, high-energy garage rock with a blues edge and a whole lot of attitude.
 
The Deli: Why did you decide to do this project and how does it differ from The Clementines?
 
Nicole: Rooftop was an accident waiting to happen. Due to increased boredom, we both decided to form a fake garage band, with Tim on electric and myself playing the most disastrous drum kit of all time. We ended up enjoying it and upon playing it for a few people, realized it was something others could enjoy too. It's way different than The Clementines. It's more in your face, less emotional, more aggressive. It's just an entirely different side of both of us, especially me.
 
The Deli: Nikki and The Rooftop Punch is an interesting band name. What's the story behind that?
 
Nicole: Long story short, Tim punched me in the face once (supposedly an accident) and we happen to enjoy rooftops. Weird combo. But it works.
 
The Deli: You haven’t even played your first show yet and you’ve already recorded a few songs. Tell us about that.
 
Nicole: We have three songs recorded that we aren't sure just what to do with yet. I think we might hold off on releasing anything until we see how far our songwriting goes, meaning if we write enough material for a full length. If not, we will release an EP. We shall see.
 
The Deli: Nicole, you play drums in this project and sing all the vocals. Not a lot of drummers do that. Is it a challenge for you?
 
Nicole: Singin' and drummin'. It is definitely a challenge. I've been playing drums for a few months and for some stupid reason, I've written my vocal parts to be very difficult. I guess I like stressing myself out. Really though, It's a whole new musical experience for me, but I really love it… especially the challenge aspect of it.
 
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
 
Nicole: Supporting local music means going to see shows, encouraging musicians in general. It means everything to a small-city band to have the support from others, fellow musicians, or otherwise. I know we wouldn't be here without the support we've received. It's crucial and we love giving it back to other bands as well.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
 
Nicole: I enjoyed the live set I saw of The Quivers. So good. Trampled Under Foot is incredible. Cadillac Flambe and Grand Marquis are always amazing. Tim really digs Gentleman Savage. We've seen so many good bands though. We could go on forever.
 
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
 
Nicole: I really dig the band Haim, the most recent Tegan and Sara album, and then just basically the same stuff I've loved for years. Ben Folds Five, Feist, System of a Down, Radiohead, Rilo Kiley. Tim loves him some Jethro Tull. It's an obsession.
 
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
 
Nicole: One where we're headlining? Ha. I think we'd be a good fit to open for The Black Keys or White Stripes. That'd be pretty freaking incredible. Fantasy, indeed.
 
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
 
Nicole: Tim and I will split this one. Tim would have Ian Anderson and David Gilmour, and I would have Janis Joplin and Judy Garland. Can't deny my love for Judy.
 
The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?
 
Nicole: We can be heard/found at Reverb Nation or on Facebook. Our two available tunes can be found on Reverb.
 
The Deli: What other goals does Nikki & The Rooftop Punch have for 2013?
 
Nicole: First goal is to get through our first ever show in one piece. After that, we just want to spread the music, rock as many venues as we can, maybe take this gig out on the road for a few shows. We think this band is pretty fun and might be worth us exploring further.
 
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
 

Nicole: Just keep on supporting local music! Also, take chances with the music you want to create, even if it seems ridiculous initially (like being an inexperienced singing drummer). Do what you love and do it shamelessly! 

If you’re curious (and you should be), check out Nikki and the Rooftop Punch’s debut show tonight at Coda. Tim and Nicole play at 9, followed by The Heavy Figs and The Monarchs. Facebook event page. You’ll also have a chance to see them at The Bay in Warrensburg on August 31 and The Riot Room on September 18. What are you waiting for?

 

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also holds down half the rhythm section in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and Dolls on FireShe thinks you should listen to “Throw It Down” by Nikki and the Rooftop Punch cuz there’s some preeeettty sweet tambourine on it. Oh, and the rest of the song is totally not awful.

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