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jessica paige

The Deli KC's Best of 2015

Michelle Bacon, editor
You probably won’t get a chance to see Madisen and Ruth Ward perform in a small room anytime soon, but if you’ve had the privilege to do so, you know how special it is. Sharp songwriting accompanies the intimacy, warmth, and the sheer velocity of their voices, all of which shine on the duo’s debut LP with Glassnote Records.
2. The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
Since its acclaimed LP Country Singles came out in 2013, fans have been chomping at the bit for another collection of songs from The Grisly Hand. Flesh & Gold showcases a band that is fully realizing its natural chemistry—the compositions reach new heights on this album, with musicians that play to their strengths, in all the right places.
3. Bloodbirds - MXVIII
Aggressive, dark, psychedelic sounds make up the aural landscape of Bloodbirds’ latest effort, an impressive full-length from an authoritative power trio. These songs are intense and emotional, but laden with enough hooks and punch to keep the listener yearning for more.
4. Mat Shoare - Right As Rain
Whether he’s delivering a subtle lyric over a somnolent keyboard tone or an angsty vitriol over an edgy guitar riff, Mat Shoare is pulling us into his world with each track on Right As Rain. Shoare has a knack for creating classic pop hooks, finding instrumentation that suits each mood, and pulling off introspective lyrics with an unmistakable sincerity.
5. Major Games - Major Games
Major Games’ self-titled release is one of the richest and most sonically dense offerings of 2015. It soars above the conventions of shoegaze, psychedelic, and noise rock, with sweeping dynamic shifts and intriguing swells of sound.
6. HMPH! - Headrush
The debut LP from HMPH! is one of the most masterful examples of musicianship on any KC release in recent history. This instrumental math rock/jazz fusion album is built on angular guitar riffs and rhythmic countermelodies from two musicians who know their craft and challenge it in an interesting, entertaining set of songs.
7. Thunderclaps - Cookin Up A Good Time (EP)
This guitar-and-drums duo stands out with 3 short tracks that remind us of the classic backbone of rock ‘n roll with a modern vigor. Thunderclaps’ debut EP is well worth a mere 9 minutes of your time; and if you aren’t shaking your hips by the end of it, you weren’t paying enough attention.
8. Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
Mikal Shapiro is no stranger to the KC music scene, having lent her talents to several projects, but The Musical is her first full-length in 5 years. With her core band of musical masterminds, Shapiro has assembled one of the year’s strongest efforts. She blends pop, jazz, folk, and blues to create something far more hip.
9. Berwanger - Demonios (EP)
Josh Berwanger knows how to write a great pop gem, and make it rock. With elements of power pop, glam rock, psych, and sugary ‘60s pop, there’s something in a Berwanger song that can appeal to anybody. His latest release, on High Dive Records, will take you on an astral journey while you’re simultaneously banging your head.
10. She’s A Keeper - Westside Royal (EP)
Westside Royal signifies a fresh new musical direction for She’s A Keeper, a band that has grown into its sound in the best possible way. This 5-track EP is full of infectious grooves coupled with warm vocal melodies, making for a solid indie pop record.
1. Admiral of the Red - “Footbeats” (1.5.15)
2. The Conquerors - “I Don’t Know” (8.11.15 High Dive Records)
3. Claire and the Classical Revolution - “Enough” (12.12.15)
4. Bonzo Madrid - “Balance” (8.10.15)
5. Spirit is the Spirit - “Televangelist” (4.13.15 The Record Machine)
6. The Uncouth - “KC United” (5.15.15 Too Much Rock)
7. Yes You Are - “World Without End” (6.1.15)
8. Katy Guillen and the Girls - “If You Were Gone” (11/24/15)
9. Mat Shoare - “One of My Songs” (11.6.15)
10. The Good Hearts - “Bad Production” (12.8.15)  
3. Glen Hansard at Uptown Theater, 11.17.15
4. Diane Coffee and Of Montreal at recordBar, 10.27.15
5. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear at recordBar, 12.22.15
6. Heartless Bastards and Craig Finn at recordBar, 7.1.15
8. Jason Isbell and Rayland Baxter at Uptown Theater, 12.9.15
10. Shiner and The String and Return at recordBar, 7.17.15
Unless you have a heart condition or are prone to seizures, you should experience Peelander-Z at least once. It is less recommended to go on stage with them and try to play their bass when they just want you to do calisthenics.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear at Good Danny’s in Austin, TX, 3.18.15
It turns out that the best respite from the chaos of SXSW was a beautiful midday serenade in a comfy, air-conditioned house. Here, a lucky roomful of 15-20 people got a chance to see the Wards tape their Daytrotter session.
Spoon at The Continental Club in Austin, TX, 3.22.15
Alejandro Escovedo is a pioneer of Austin’s music scene, and held his last post-SXSW party, with Spoon as the secret guest. Seeing one of my favorite bands in a 300-cap room with dozens of other influential Austin musicians and natives was a special treat.
GAV7D, Katy Guillen and the Girls, and Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds at recordBar, 10.23.15
Late October and early November were arguably the most stressful months in Kansas City history. Game 6 of the ALCS was another nail-biter, plagued by a rain delay. Meanwhile, Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds opened up a show at recordBar, with a crowd that was waiting on pins and needles to celebrate, erupting in a Royal triumph at the last few notes of our set. The festivities continued with a red-hot set from Katy Guillen and the Girls, and a delightful denouement from Johnny Hamil’s GAV7D project.
The Philistines at Maria’s Taco Xpress in Austin, TX, 3.21.15
More famously known as the day Bill Murray saw my band play and offered me a bite of his food.
Zach Hodson (Dolls on Fire)
My 10 favorite Kansas City or ties-to-Kansas-City recordings of 2015(in no particular ranking or order):
The Electric Lungs - Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made
The Electric Lungs’ sophomore full-length does not disappoint. Complete with a bombastic rhythm section, emphatic vocal performances, and just the right amount of synthy icing, this pop rock/punk quartet continues to put out some of the best high-energy rock music in town these days.
The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
Whereas this album didn’t originally catch me near as much as their 2013 release Country Singles (which I consider to be one of my favorite KC releases of all time), Flesh & Gold falls more in the sneaky good category. The usual hallmarks of The Grisly Hand sound are certainly present throughout, but they continue to show a maturation and evolution of sound, allowing the sonic spectrum to freelance into other genres a bit more.  
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - Skeleton Crew
Yeah. It’s damn good, just a fantastic sonic experience from beginning to end. Everything is spot-on: the songs, the unique vocal stylings, the tasteful flares of accompanying instrumentation, the production value. Whereas roots music can often fall prey to overproduction, this breakthrough record from the Kansas City based son-mom duo shows the true power of knowing which levers to pull and which to leave the hell alone.
Christian Hankel - Silver (Music from the Noir Ballet)
No one can ever call out Christian Hankel for being unambitious. Over the years, he has treated Kansas City with over-the-top art projects while others stay slaves to what is trendy. Silver is just the latest example of this. Featuring a who’s who of Kansas City players, this soundtrack to a modern retelling of The Odyssey via an 8-piece jazz ensemble is a well-composed and dynamic slice of mid-20th century jazz dolled up with just enough modern influence.
The Bad Ideas - Leave Me Alone
And now for something completely different. Eleven scuzzy, socially-conscious, punk-as-fuck brain-beating tracks that somehow keep some identity from each other during the onslaught. This full-length tape captures the live energy for which The Bad Ideas have become known.
Sterling Witt - Satyagraha
Another Kansas City area artist with a strict devotion to the art above all else, Sterling Witt’s recent release is a thick and icky ride recorded by Steve Albini (and yes, it certainly sounds like it was). I’ve seen Sterling perform in just about every way possible over the years (and probably still have some baby powder, glitter, or a paper airplane laying around to prove it). This grungy batch of alternative tunes is certainly less folk than I remember him at times, but still has the same earworms, sharp songwriting, and sly lyric play that I’ve come to very much enjoy of his work.
The Hillbenders - Tommy: A Bluegrass Odyssey
Whereas the Hillbenders in general are not “from” Kansas City, this record has plenty of ties to our neck of the woods that make it applicable here. It is an ambitious thing. Take one of the most beloved rock operas of all time, a record laden with synthesizers, squealing guitars, and one of the most adventurous drummers in rock n’ roll history. Now, reproduce it with traditional bluegrass instruments. And, oh yeah, no drums and no keyboards.
Somehow, The Hillbenders not only pull it off, but really push the material beyond its original limits in many ways. By creatively channeling the constraints of their instrumentation into ridiculously well-put-together orchestrations, the listener is never found wanting for the missing elements. It is beautifully new and familiar all at the same time.
Sundiver - Caravelle and Discoverer
Proving that verdant noise rock is still very much alive and relevant, Sundiver dropped a fantastic duo of songs this year with Caravelle and Discoverer. Call it post-hardcore, call it shoegaze, call it even a bit math rock at times, the pair of songs repeatedly build and crash, powdering the listener with something equally galvanic and celestial. Dreamy, driving, provoking soundscapes.
The Sluts - The Sluts
The modern war against the bass guitar (or perhaps better said, against those that typically play the bass guitar [yeah, I said it. Deal with it, bass players]) continues with this Lawrence two-piece. The Sluts’ debut LP suffers not from the four-string exclusion. The guitars rumble with lush distortion, the drums pound, the vocals screech through the wooly mix. Just enough smart songwriting keeps this from being an 11-song one-trick pony. It is a ride worth taking time and time again.
Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
Jazz, blues, Americana, country, good old rock ‘n roll: it’s all here. Being Shapiro’s first full-length release since 2010, she really sheds some skin with this batch of gracefully arranged songs. Every effort is a new adventure, kept on the like tracks by her silky, often doubled and harmonized vocals. The all-star Core Four (amongst other guest musicians) utilized throughout elevates her material to a new place.
Brad Scott (The Clementines)
1. The Grisly Hand - Flesh & Gold
2. Mikal Shapiro - The Musical
3. Paper Buffalo - White on White (EP)
4. The AM Trio - As of Now
5. The Old No. 5s - Steam
1. The Grisly Hand - “Regina” (from Flesh & Gold)
2. Paper Buffalo - “The Archive” (from White on White)
3. Hembree - “Can't Run Forever”
4. Mikal Shapiro - “Daniel” (from The Musical)
5. The Old No. 5s - “Barn Party” (from Steam)
Albums, in no particular order:
The Electric Lungs - Don’t be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made
Definitely a punk rock album that brings me back to my high school years.  I wish I had this album to help me through those wonder years.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - Skeleton Crew
This is such a warm album to listen to.  I always picture myself outside by a creek on a summer afternoon as I contemplate about life.  
Jessica Paige - Sweet Nothings
Imagine yourself laying down on a wooden floor of your living room with your significant other on a cool autumn morning.  It helps you make you appreciate every single bit of life, good and bad.
The Clementines - “The Journey Begins” (single)
The single is very raw and straight to the point. You can hear raw emotion and heart from a band that can tug at your heart.
This album definitely captures the energy of their live performance. I always blare it in my car, headbanging on my way to work.
From all of us at The Deli KC, thank you for your support in 2015, and here's to more great music in 2016!


An interview with Jessica Paige

Jessica Paige recently released her new album Sweet Nothings in September, and it is definitely worth the listen. Her sound combines the intimate tunes you hear in coffee shops with great storytelling in her lyrics that can be enjoyed in the warmth of your cozy home.  
Paige always knew that she needed to be a singer/songwriter. She started writing songs in 5th grade with her friends, and performed her first written song at the age of 14. She began dabbling in guitar in her hometown, and learned to sharpen her skills after high school in Ireland.
“Your gut to learn guitar is smart—it will lead you to incredible places,” Paige says. And that it did. She later honed in on her songwriting skills. One of the main aspects that she has learned from her peers is to be minimal with her songs, not overbearing. She took to heart the words of a peer in Ireland: “You don’t need fancy guitar technique; your voice is the main instrument. That is it.” Her voice is the key that helps get her point across. She learned that if she does any complicated guitar shenanigans, it may distract from her voice and the general idea of the song. When you hear one of her songs or see her live, you’ll understand the power of her voice—it can either be soft and intimate or powerful and soulful.
Now, songs can come from anywhere. Sometimes she gets melody ideas in her car and records them to her phone. “There are a lot of bad ones, but a few keepers,” she says. There are times when she writes with lit candles around her, a glass of wine, and a guitar to help create a calming environment around her. When writing lyrics, it is always with a pen and paper. “It is always satisfying when I write on paper rather than typing. It just feels right and real.”
Paige’s songs are based on her personal life. “In order to write well, you have to dig deeper on that feeling in order to articulate the feeling.” She feels vulnerable writing songs that are personal to her, noting that it recently “feels like standing naked.”
Usually, songwriters write to and for their audience. Paige, on the other hand, writes for herself. “I write what I’m feeling, with the intent to be honest.” On her new album, she describes her feelings about love, heartache, or loss; each song describes a moment from a past relationship. One of my favorite songs, “Sweet Nothings,” describes a significant other in his vulnerable state resting his head in her bed while she appreciates every single detail of this particular moment in their relationship. “Good Grief,” one of the only songs not about a relationship, describes how she handled a family member’s passing. Lastly, “The Fall”, describes a moment where she was letting a significant other go and saying farewell. With each song, rather than describing what she feels, she allows you to go ahead and experience the feeling for yourself.
Right now, Paige is currently promoting Sweet Nothings, with a single, “Beautiful Life,” that has radio airplay. For the future, she talks about playing with the idea of writing about situations she’s encountered through others or brand-new stories. Jessica Paige is a unique and rare Kansas City songwriter. Take a listen to her lyrics; it may change your perspective on life and its beauty.
--Mica-Elgin Vi
Mica-Elgin Vi is a singer songwriter. He is the lead vocalist and guitarist for a Kansas City based band called Modern Day Fitzgerald.

You’ll have a couple chances to see Jessica Paige this week. She’ll be playing some tunes on Thanksgiving night at recordBar with Vi Tran and friends, and will take the stage at Mills Record Company the following evening for Black Friday/Record Store Day. Her set starts at 7:00 p.m., followed by Pink Royal. Facebook event page. 

Apocalypse Meow 8 is coming up!

Midwest Music Foundation is proud to present the eighth annual Apocalypse Meow! Mark your calendars for November 6-8 and enjoy 3 nights of music at 3 great Kansas City spots for a very important cause.
Friday, November 6 at recordBar
Amy Farrand and the Like
Get your tickets here. 18+ / $7
Saturday, November 7 at Mills Record Company
A free, all ages show presented by The Deli KC!
Sunday, November 8 at Knuckleheads Saloon
Get your tickets here. 21+ / $15
Apocalypse Meow 8 benefits Abby’s Fund for Musicians’ Health Care, which provides emergency health care grants to musicians in need. Raffles will be held throughout the weekend and a silent auction will be held on Sunday at Knuckleheads, with items, gift certificates, and tickets donated by local businesses and organizations. Click here for a full list of items and contact rhonda@midwestmusicfound.org if you’d like to donate.
Huge thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and musicians that make this event possible each year! For more information and a full list of sponsors, please visit http://midwestmusicfound.org/apocalypse-meow-2015

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