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September 2014
Katy Guillen & the Girls
"Katy Guillen & the Girls
"
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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: Attic Wolves - Volume and Boldness (EP)

Album review: Attic Wolves - Volume and Boldness (EP)

An introduction made by a banjo at one point in time may have thrown listeners off. But with the recent revival of the rootsy instruments in mainstream music, the banjo has become just as welcome as the drum kit. Kansas City’s Attic Wolves have taken all of the soul from roots music and molded it into their own brand of powerful and emotional folk. Attic Wolves hold the title of The Pitch’s Best Local Album of 2012 (their debut EP, Carry Us On) and now, Volume and Boldness is every bit as good.
 
Channeling all that soul that is carried in folk tunes, Attic Wolves hit the listener with “Here’s To Looking Back.” A catchy guitar ditty and smooth, mellow vocals serenade the listener. A story of sorts about two people growing close, then falling apart. The song explores how people change and how life is never constant. Though the message is a bit melancholy, the song finishes strong with a positive spin; the old mantra “so it goes” is in full effect.
 
Volume and Boldness is comprised of five tracks that completely blow you away not only in the sense of the musical composition, but the lyrical heaviness as well; an album to help heal the hurt heart. “Safe and Sound” explores unconditional love. “It’s Not Over” deals with the things in life that are out of human hands. “Leave Me Be” is a heartbreak and a half of a song. The outro song, “I Know Who You Love,” looks into unwanted love from one party to the next, and again, the songs hints that everything will be okay.
 
The album title is taken from the band’s personal traits, explained in its bio: “[It] reflects what we believe is required of us as a band in order to succeed. Volume and Boldness is our way of doing business.” That statement is ever so true. All the listener has to do is dissect the lyrics to understand.
 
--Steven Ervay
 
Steven is an all-around awesome dude who works tirelessly for the KC music community.
 
Editor’s note: Volume & Boldness was recorded at Mammoth Cave Recording Studio in Denver, produced by Tim Gerak.
 
 

Attic Wolves will celebrate the release of Volume and Boldness with a party at Czar Bar this Monday, July 21. Akkilles and The Papers (Chicago) will also be playing. Tickets are $5 presale or $7 at the door, 21+. Ticket link. Facebook event page. 

 

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