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: 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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