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Song premiere: "Bad Production" by The Good Hearts

The Deli KC is happy to premiere the debut single from The Good Hearts, “Bad Production.”
 
This new trio is headed up by Nicole Springer, best known for her work in The Clementines. “About a year ago, I found myself losing my confidence in music. Rather than give up on it entirely, I decided it was time to start a new project that might help inspire me again,” she says. Though The Good Hearts’ music is tinged with the same soulfully driven folk pop elements  as The Clementines, the addition of violinist Roshelle Pekarek and cellist Anna Cook has allowed Springer to take new directions with her songs.
 
“I loved the idea of writing very intimate songs and arranging them with string players,” says Springer, who has been able to further explore the depths and possibilities of her songwriting through this project. “Once Roshelle, Anna, and I started working on my material, I knew I had found my happiness in music again.”
 
“Bad Production” was recorded and produced by Lennon Bone.
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
 

The Good Hearts will be making their debut live performance this Sunday, December 13, at recordBar. Show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. You can also catch them at Coda for MudStomp Records’ Saturday Afternoon Stomp on December 19 at 3 pm. Facebook event page. 

December 2015
Mikal Shapiro
"The Musical
"
mp3
Singer-songwriter Mikal Shapiro’s perfectly titled latest release, The Musical, is a collection of not merely songs, but 10 short stories set to wonderful music. The album is a work—or multiple works—of art that are just as mysterious and intriguing as any paintings you will find in a gallery. Shapiro’s palette is splattered with the complete spectrum of colors. There are dreary gray tones and bright whimsical flashes, melding together to create a soundtrack to life—one that touches many musical genres, including rock, folk, jazz, old-school country, and even gospel.
 
The Musical's opening act, “Nope,” is an airy, ethereal fantasy. Odd, evasive lyrics over a folk sound made jazzier by a muted trumpet give the listener a sense of drifting in and out of a dream on a rainy Sunday morning. Drums and crashing cymbals briefly end the slumber, until you are lulled back to sleep as the song comes to a close. Several tracks share this jazz feel, including “Out on the Town,” “Two String Blues,” and the wonderfully whimsical "Hot Cool." Shapiro's vocals are poised and effortless on each of these. 
 
“Here and Now” explores rediscovering love and a desire to forget (or never remember) the past. A dull snare beat blanketed by beautiful steel guitar rivals the purest of cry-in-your-beer country songs. Similarly, “This Way to Heaven” is country with an emphasis on gospel. It begins a cappella and, as the band joins in, becomes the loveliest song on the album. It is simultaneously serene and haunting.
 
Matching the mystery and irony found throughout the album, “Daniel,” the catchiest and most up-tempo tune, is also possibly the saddest. Daniel himself is an enigma. The storyteller, who acknowledges being a “friend” of Daniel’s, clearly knows little more about him than that he can “sleep like a Christian” and “drink like a demon.” The song turns dark when the protagonist is found dead, presumably by suicide. “But on that Saturday, Daniel was down / They couldn’t say where he was found, or how he was found.” Brilliantly, the listener is left to decide how Daniel may have met his demise, and why.  
 
Shapiro is fortunate to be backed by Chad Brothers (guitar and vocals), Johnny Hamil (electric and double bass), and Matt Richey (drums), along with a small army of additional local musicians. This adept team provides a canvas that Shapiro expertly fills. My interpretations of The Musical may differ from other listeners. As with any painting, the artist is not only revealing her emotions, but is also attempting to provoke a response—and Shapiro certainly does. My response may be lost in translation, as the peculiar, personal songs will pierce each listener differently.

--Brad Scott  





Album review: Rev Gusto - Burnt Out Friends

“Goodnight Laura. It’s nice to know ya. But it’s better if I just fade away. So goodnight Laura. Know I adore ya. But, you’ll never be happy if I stay.” This lyric pierces my heart a bit. While this sad, easy let-down story is charming and catchy, I do want Jerry Frederick to stay. I really do. This lyric from “Goodnight Laura” is just some of the simple brilliance found on Burnt Out Friends, the debut full-length from the very original and talented Kansas City based Rev Gusto.
 
Burnt Out Friends, the 10-track record, released July 28 on High Dive Records, is on heavy rotation in my house. The super rad red cassette is in even heavier rotation in my car. I have seen them countless times. Danced like a crazy person until my legs no longer worked. Forced everyone I know to listen and join in. You could call me a fan.
 
This album is lighthearted and lyrically brilliant. We should expect no less from the gifted mind behind the project: Jerry Frederick. “We wanted to capture a raw sound with the album, so we recorded the entire LP live in studio to do so,” he explains. He might know what he is doing. He studied in England under Ray Davies of The Kinks. Spoiler: you can hear that in this album—every track. Jerry’s vocals are almost Britpop. Imagine early Beach Boys had a baby with The Kinks and Spoon and raised it in a dark, sarcastic, romantic comedy. Burnt Out Friends is full of simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic.
 
The brilliant musicians who can be heard on this album are Quinn Hernandez (drums), Shaun Crowley (guitar and trumpet), Peter Beatty (guitar and keys), Sam Frederick (bass) and of course, Jerry Frederick on guitar and vocals. Fun fact about Rev Gusto: after a restaff, they are now a three-piece. This includes Sam, still on bass, and Matt Wargin on drums. I heard this rumor but have not taken in a live show with the new lineup yet. “I loved playing with the dudes from the old lineup, but a stripped-down sound lets me get in touch with my song’s pop roots; more of a focus on vocals and harmonies,” was Jerry’s response when I quizzed him about the shake-up.
 
Burnt out Friends opens with “The Boys Are at It Again,” a great pick for an opening track. It’s light, sugary, and catchy. Jerry’s vocals and Shaun Crowley’s guitar with a perfect salty surf sound makes you dance like an awkward Peanuts’ character. My favorite track on the record is “Blood in a Bag.” This song about a crush is lyrically like none I’ve ever heard. In true Jerry fashion, it tells an obscure story of a boy, crushing on a girl while he has his blood drawn. Awkward, simple, like it were straight out of a dark indie romantic comedy. “Surf City/Mind in a Cage” is the most interesting on the album. The two short songs smashed together are a perfect combination. The first of the two are just as you imagine. The title is a spoiler. The second feels like a dance-it-out garage pop anthem. I put this track on in my living room, listen to Shaun play me that salty surf sound, jump around (usually after too many beers) and scream, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go,” along with Jerry.  
 
This pristine, simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic is such an unlikely sound to come out of Kansas City. I am full on Thanksgiving turkey thankful for it. And if you get the opportunity catch a show, do it.
 
 
--Jess Barrett
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
 
 

You can check out the new Rev Gusto lineup at Revolution Records next First Friday—they’ll be playing therewith Black Stacey and Coyote. Show starts at 7 pm. Facebook event page. Or if you’re in Warrensburg on Saturday, they’ll be at The Bay.  





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. 





Album review: Mikal Shapiro - The Musical

Singer-songwriter Mikal Shapiro’s perfectly titled latest release, The Musical, is a collection of not merely songs, but 10 short stories set to wonderful music. The album is a work—or multiple works—of art that are just as mysterious and intriguing as any paintings you will find in a gallery. Shapiro’s palette is splattered with the complete spectrum of colors. There are dreary gray tones and bright whimsical flashes, melding together to create a soundtrack to life—one that touches many musical genres, including rock, folk, jazz, old-school country, and even gospel.
 
The Musical's opening act, “Nope,” is an airy, ethereal fantasy. Odd, evasive lyrics over a folk sound made jazzier by a muted trumpet give the listener a sense of drifting in and out of a dream on a rainy Sunday morning. Drums and crashing cymbals briefly end the slumber, until you are lulled back to sleep as the song comes to a close. Several tracks share this jazz feel, including “Out on the Town,” “Two String Blues,” and the wonderfully whimsical "Hot Cool." Shapiro's vocals are poised and effortless on each of these. 
 
“Here and Now” explores rediscovering love and a desire to forget (or never remember) the past. A dull snare beat blanketed by beautiful steel guitar rivals the purest of cry-in-your-beer country songs. Similarly, “This Way to Heaven” is country with an emphasis on gospel. It begins a cappella and, as the band joins in, becomes the loveliest song on the album. It is simultaneously serene and haunting.
 
Matching the mystery and irony found throughout the album, “Daniel,” the catchiest and most up-tempo tune, is also possibly the saddest. Daniel himself is an enigma. The storyteller, who acknowledges being a “friend” of Daniel’s, clearly knows little more about him than that he can “sings like a Christian” and “drink like a demon.” The song turns dark when the protagonist is found dead, presumably by suicide. “But on that Saturday, Daniel was down / They couldn’t say where he was found, or how he was found.” Brilliantly, the listener is left to decide how Daniel may have met his demise, and why.  
 
Shapiro is fortunate to be backed by Chad Brothers (guitar and vocals), Johnny Hamil (electric and double bass), and Matt Richey (drums), along with a small army of additional local musicians. This adept team provides a canvas that Shapiro expertly fills. My interpretations of The Musical may differ from other listeners. As with any painting, the artist is not only revealing her emotions, but is also attempting to provoke a response—and Shapiro certainly does. My response may be lost in translation, as the peculiar, personal songs will pierce each listener differently.
 
 
--Brad Scott
Brad loves music, Boulevard beer, and his family. Not necessarily in that order.
 
Mikal Shapiro and her band will be playing The Musical tomorrow (Thursday) night at Harling’s Upstairs as well as releasing copies of the album on vinyl. Special guests Claire and the Crowded Stage and The Hardship Letters. Facebook event page

 

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