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The Deli KC

Album review: Maps For Travelers - Change Your Name

How often is it that you find a punk band that can reach a diverse audience as Maps for Travelers has? The band, recently signed by No Sleep Records, put out its debut full-length release Change Your Name. And I will attest to the album’s ability to have at least one track that can—and will—grasp you.
The No Sleep newbies, who are now in the company of great punk acts like Balance and Composure, The Wonder Years, and Kansas City natives Coalesce and The Casket Lottery, have been working on Change Your Name for over a year. The wait is finally over, and the album is nothing less than magnificent.  
At face value, this is just another Kansas City-bred punk album, but closer inspection reveals more. The little cogs of the massive sound machine that is Maps will bring to your attention their sheer talent. Several intricate parts make this four-piece more than your average Midwestern emo/punk band.
Sparing no time, they hit you hard with the unbelievably heavy “Good Life” and “Life on Repeat” straight out of the gate. These first two tracks carry the essence of what Maps is about. Mingling hearty, clean vocals and tones with angst-ridden yells pushes the sound to something more post-hardcore.
A change of pace hits on the third track “Matter of Time.” The tempo slows and though there are no screaming vocals, Zach Brotherton’s singing picks up a scruffy sound. The angst still lingers here as well. But promptly as the album continues, the hard-hitting sounds return.
Beyond being great at the heavy stuff, Maps makes a decent slow jam. The majority of “Swoon” is tuned down. The closing statements of the album, “All Your Friends” and “They’re Learning Fast” will help bring your adrenaline down. The slow jams are soft and soulful. Carrying the same intensity as the previous tracks in the album, they hit just a bit more gently.
The lyrics are raw, the vocals are clear, the music is heavy and excellently executed. Whatever your genre of choice may be, something on Change Your Name will resonate in your head.
Maps For Travelers was signed by No Sleep Records back in July. Change Your Name was recorded and tracked at Black Lodge Recording, Element Recording by Joel Nanos, and Massive Sound Studios by Paul Malinowski. It was mixed by Jason McEntire at Sawhorse Productions (St. Louis) and mastered by Trevor Sadler at Mastermind Productions (Charlotte, NC).
This Friday, September 20, you can party with the guys from Maps and Radkey, as they play The Rendezvous in St. Joseph at 9 pm. Facebook event page. Their next show in Kansas City will be on Friday, October 11 at Czar with Restorations and Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship. Ticket link. Facebook event page.

--Steven Ervay 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

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Crossroads Music Fest Highlights, 9.14.13

The beginning of fall also coincides with Kansas City’s Crossroads Music Fest, which entered its ninth year this past Saturday. This year, the fest covered six venues: Crossroads KC (behind Grinder’s), The Brick, Czar Bar, Midwestern Musical Co., Green Lady Lounge, and Collection.
Several local bands and a number of national bands graced each stage, a variety of music ranging from jazz to hard rock to soul to single acoustic acts to a 15-person outfit. Here are some of the highlights from earlier shows in the evening.

Crossroads Music Fest is organized by Bill Sundahl at Spice of Life Productions. It was co-sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation, Kansas City Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts, and FanAddict

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Album review: The Grisly Hand - Country Singles

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
The thought of today's "country music" genre is enough to make this reviewer's skin crawl. Almost no other recollection is more irritating than the memory of high school dances gone by, predominantly backdropped with a Garth Brooks soundtrack. Flashes of two-step, ill-fitting cowboy hats and oversized belt buckles, some nasty substance called chaw, and off-key, twangy impressions spring to mind, stereotypical as they may sound. And if 16-year-old me knew that 30-year-old me would willingly and constantly blast a country album while driving around town, she would be wildly perplexed.
Fortunately, none of those memories is drudged up while hearing The Grisly Hand's latest full-length effort, Country Singles. The six-piece group masterfully composed twelve solid tracks (along with a special bonus track if you have the album; and if you don’t, get it now—you won’t regret it), presented in a way that brings a broad appeal to its music, yet maintains its core. Country Singles is still, in essence, a country album, but it incorporates a healthy blend of classic country with pop, rock, folk, blues, and soul influences. The personal touch each member contributes to each song provides an extra boost of originality and character, and the production by Joel Nanos at Element Recording invites a quality that reaches far beyond the typical lengths of a locally-produced record.
In previous works, the strength of each track was primarily found in the pristine vocal harmonies of Lauren Krum and Jimmy Fitzner. But with a careful eye on production by Nanos, a new combination of members (this is Mike Stover's and Matt Richey's first recording with the group), and an ever-maturing sense of songwriting, Country Singles stands out as a premier local album.
The characteristically pleasant vocal harmonies by Krum/Fitzner continue to pervade the majority of the LP, but they push through each track with a more confident collective voice and project a stronger personality through their colorful brand of storytelling. One of the best examples of this is on "(If You're Leavin') Take the Trash Out (When You Go)," a jaunty track that nonchalantly tells the story of a breakup, driven by Krum’s intrepid vocal delivery and Fitzner’s accompaniment. On this track—among several others on Country Singles—Richey shows his ability to outshuffle any drummer in Kansas City, helping carry a consistent heartbeat throughout the LP’s most classic country tunes.
Guitarist and mandolin player Ben Summers also puts his songwriting abilities on display throughout the album, on songs like “Municipal Farm Blues” and “Coup de Cœur,” a lovelorn duet between him and Krum, accompanied by Stover’s masterful, lonesome steel guitar work.
These are just small examples of the diversity of the LP, which is best captured in the middle of the album with “Amusia” and “Blind Horse.” While the first four tracks contain the signature Grisly sound, these two are direct counterpoints that retain just enough of the band’s style to shine slightly brighter than the others. The songs show a deeper side of the band, both in emotion and composition; and perhaps the album’s finest moments are found on these tracks. One is the haunting minor-note instrumental/vocal performance that resolves at the bridge of “Amusia.” The other sort of just occurs throughout “Blind Horse,” as the physical and emotional force of Krum’s voice is pitted against intermittent breaths of a simplistic but equally-as-compelling piano, also played by Krum.
Country Singles is The Grisly Hand’s finest work to date, because the band maintains its roots and style while integrating a variety of influences and emotions, along with plenty of humor (the idea and liner notes were inspired by a rural newsletter for lonely singles), dynamics, and depth. No doubt this is already a strong contender for local album of 2013.
Yesterday, The Grisly Hand released a video for “That’s Not Affection,” directed by Dan Myers. Check it out below!
The Grisly Hand is:
Jimmy Fitzner: vocals, guitar
Lauren Krum: vocals
Johnny Nichols: bass, keys, vocals
Matt Richey: drums
Mike Stover: steel guitar, bass
Ben Summers: guitar, mandolin, vocals
You can check out The Grisly Hand on a big stage this Saturday, September 14 at Crossroads Music Fest. The band will play Crossroads KC at Grinder’s at 8:10 p.m. You can buy tickets in advance at this link for $15, $20 at the gate.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. One member of The Grisly Hand claims to be toothless, and she knows which one it is. Do you?

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Album review: Erik Voeks - Finulu (EP)

Finulu is the first extended follow up to Erik Voeks’s debut EP Free Range (see my review here). While I very much enjoyed the more laid-back and folky sounds featured on Free Range, it is nice to see Voeks further invite the whole orchestra pit to play on this EP.
“Descending From a Daydream” is a solid upbeat pop tune. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I am a complete whore for a good chug beat and “woo hoo”s. Both are featured here in spades. The harmonies are air tight, the arrangement is playful, the instrumentation is tastefully lush, and the lyrics are a little mischievous and tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps best is that this song really puts its money where its mouth is, as it is both somewhat a sonic departure from Voek’s previous work that I am familiar with as well as thematically about being sick of the same old tired music.
“And I’ve had enough of 12-bar blues,
And I’ve had all of your face that I can use”
“Cuz I’ve had enough of 1, 4, 5,
and I’ve had all of your shit I can’t survive
“Voted the boy most likely to succeed at the Dr Who convention…” greets your ear as you groove into the EP’s second track, “Dark Angel of Delmar.” This two-minute song tows the more goofy and playful side of power pop. But even if you don’t know what Tardis is, you can still bob your head to the solid groove and hum along to the hooky guitar line. Complete with a crowd-noise/baby-wailing fade out into the next song, this effort reinforces the sentiment laid out in the first track: don’t be the soulless jerk just rehashing the same crap that has been done over and over and over and over again.
The last two tracks are more like the material I remember from Free Range:heavy doses of thoughtful Americana meets the Beatles in “Hester A.Fish” and early to mid-‘90s power pop ala the Gin Blossoms or Soul Asylum in “What It Feels Like.” Whereas not as experimental or varied in their sonic landscape, these tracks are still top notch.
Finulu, which also happens to feature some of the most adorable album art ever, is another solid effort from Voeks. It is sonically impressive, lyrically astute, and notably coddled into a sincerely enjoyable listen.
You can see Erik Voeks and witness his brilliant range of songwriting at Crossroads Music Fest next Saturday, September 14 at Collection at 9:30 p.m. You can buy tickets in advance at this link for $15, $20 at the gate.
--Zach Hodson

Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until "Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings" begins production.

He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.


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Artists on Trial: Katy Guillen & The Girls

(Photo by Brandon Forrest)
They’ve only been around for about a year, and already Katy Guillen & The Girls (formerly The Katy Guillen Trio) have taken Kansas City by storm with their compelling, proficient brand of blues and rock. Guillen, along with “The Girls”—bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams—have big plans for the rest of 2013. They’ve released a series of singles, and they’re finalists for the 2013 KCBS Kansas City Blues Competition this Saturday at Knuckleheads. We’ll find out more about them here.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?
KG & The Girls: Rock and roll, heavy blues, lots of guitar, big drums, soulful harmonies, and songs about working to survive, dreams, and people.
The Deli: Tell us about …and then there were three, the EP you're releasing. What should we expect?
KG&G: It’s more of a release of three singles and/or a taste of the band, than an official EP. Our goal is to release an album soon with these songs and more on it. They’re the first three originals of mine that we ever jammed on and made into band songs.
The Deli: Katy, you play solo and also played with Go-Go Ray in the past. How/why did you start this project with Claire and Stephanie?
KG&G: Katy: Last September, I got asked to open for the Royal Southern Brotherhood at Knuckleheads with 2 weeks’ notice, and said of course, not knowing who I would play with. I asked Stephanie and Claire if they would want to play this show, and maybe just be a band. They were stoked and we’ve been playing music together ever since. We were already good friends, and playing in Claire & The Crowded Stage together too, so the chemistry and comfort was there from the beginning.
The Deli: All three of you are members of several other bands around town. What is it about this specific project that's most rewarding to each of you?
KG&G: Stephanie: It’s the coolest!
Claire: It’s nice because it’s a small group and we communicate very well together, musically and organizationally.
Katy: I second what Claire said. It’s easy and fun.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
KG&G: Playing shows, seeing shows, and volunteering your time and music for community events and causes. It’s staying active with others, and when we support each other, we support the music.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?
KG&G: Everyone in The Grisly Hand, and Julia Haile.
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?
KG&G: Those Darlins, Lily Hyatt, Delta Spirit, Heartless Bastards.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
KG&G: Heartless Bastards, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Carrie Brownstein.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why? 
KG&G: Carrie Brownstein because she rules at life, John Bonam because he rules at drums, Janis Joplin because she rules at the stage, Jimi Hendrix because he rules at the guitar. Or, Steph’s 3 dogs and Claire’s dog, because they’re loyal.
The Deli: Where can we find you on the web?
The Deli: What other goals do KG & The Girls have for 2013?
KG&G: Play shows, travel more, and record!
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
KG&G: Have fun, love it, and don’t turn your back on a good thing!
You can catch KG & The Girls anytime in the next few days! Tonight they’ll be at BB’s Lawnside BBQ (Facebook event page), tomorrow they’re playing a benefit for the Sherwood Foundation, and they round it out Saturday at Knuckleheads for the KCBS Blues Competition from 2-6 p.m. The winner of this round goes to Memphis in January to represent Kansas City at the International Blues Challenge. Good luck, girls!
Also, for today only, you can download the band’s three-song release on Bandcamp at this link for free, or pay what you want.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. She likes to visit potentially dangerous or blighted areas because sometimes you find castles. 

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