KC music

Album review: Sundiver - The Pull

Spaced-out arrangements. Chunky, muddy guitar riffs. Down-tuned vocal harmonies. Echoes of the alt-rock greatness of the mid ‘90s. Any one of these features would be enough for me to give an album a listen; putting them all together is pretty irresistible. Kansas City rockers Sundiver have successfully merged this quartet of genre-defining factors, presenting them to the music-listening world in their debut full-length effort The Pull, recorded and engineered by Neal Brown at Harrisonic Studios and released in December of 2013.
The genesis of Sundiver occurred in early 2011 as guitarist/vocalist John Agee and bassist/vocalist Bobby Bayer started preliminary work on the general band concept. After the addition of Nick Organ on drums and Joseph Wells on guitar and keyboards, the fully-formed foursome released the EP Vicious in the spring of 2012. Upon the following release of The Pull, a brief tour took them to the west and southwest US. At press time, Sundiver’s focus is on that big annual music festival in Austin that gets a bit snippy sometimes when its four-letter acronym is used.
The album opens with “Lover’s Comfort,” which starts out as the closest thing you’ll get to a space waltz before the chorus settles in on the steady, driving sound that will power the rest of the record. Its pace is unhurried, its voice is mid-range, but its focus is clear. Sundiver is going to take you on a trip that is beyond earthly borders over the course of The Pull’s 43-minute lifespan, and there is no reason to rush or hurry. The destination will be there, so let’s enjoy the journey. Soaring guitar lines bring an added rush of energy to the song’s second half, which generates the momentum that will keep things rolling throughout the album.
The descriptor of space rock is often used in a mostly light and airy musical tone, but this album is relentless, hard-driving, and filled with gigantic arena-sized riffs that could easily fill any venue they play. No track epitomizes that more than the title tune, an eight-minute exercise in sublime intensity. Bayer’s bass threatens to dig a trench in the floor and drag the listener down into the mud and mire, with the twin guitar battalion of Agee and Wells and the thunderous drumming of Organ making this must-listen material for anyone yearning to put on the flannel and the Doc Martens once again.
Three of the nine tracks are mini-instrumental breaks that offer a chance to pause, take a breath, and prepare for the next segment. I’m sure there are stories behind their titles (“EV,” “F=G[(m1m2)/(r^2)],” and “C8H11NO2”), but you’ll have to ask the boys in the band. Given the nature of the band’s sound, it wouldn’t be surprising if the second one was a formula for rocket fuel and the third the name of a distant galaxy that serves as Sundiver’s muse for its intergalactic melodies. Perhaps there’s a connection with Area 51 buried within the lyrics? Instructions on the art of creating crop circles? Hmmm…
When I listen to the record, a variety of bands stand out as potential influences, directly or indirectly: Hum, My Bloody Valentine, Shiner, early Tool, and—for me, anyway, as I am an unabashed fan of this band—King’s X. The comparison to the latter is especially evident in the album’s closer, “Relevant.” The vocal style, the churning bass, the powerful-yet-melodic percussion… if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Ty Tabor, dUg Pinnick, and Jerry Gaskill should be feeling exceptionally honored.
It was the English poet Robert Browning who wrote in 1855: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Sundiver has chosen to extend its reach beyond the surly bonds of Earth and grasp at sounds fit for the stars. The Pull illustrates their success within their first LP…
…and it seems that, in this case, the sky may not be the limit after all.
Your next chance to see Sundiver will be Saturday, March 1 at Czar, with special guests In Aeona and A Light Within. Show starts at 8 p.m. Ticket link.
--Michael Byars 
Michael likes Mexican coke, smooth jazz, Aero bars, and noses that are not bloody. We hear he has a big birthday party coming up. Gasp! 

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Song premiere: "Earth Angel" by Katy Guillen and the Girls

We are happy to premiere the latest track from Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Earth Angel.”
The trio releases the song right before descending upon Memphis to represent Kansas City in the International Blues Challenge next week. The KC kickoff show is this Saturday, January 18, at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. KG & the Girls will play the IBC as well as a few dates in Nashville and New Orleans over the next week.
“Earth Angel” is a ballad that successfully packs in every element that gives KG & the Girls its signature style, which is rooted in the blues but draws from rock and jazz influences. It begins with Guillen’s masterful guitar work and carefully weaves in her compelling vocals with  the always-on-point rhythm section of Claire Adams and Stephanie Williams. Though the track clocks in at nearly eight minutes, it gradually accelerates along with a balance of delicacy and force that gives it a satisfying sense of brevity and completeness.
The song was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights & Measures Soundlab.
The band is offering up the track as a free download for one week, so head over to their Bandcamp and get your download.
Also, head over to BB’s this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. to see them before they leave for Memphis. AJ Gaither will be opening up the show and joining the band on a few tunes. Facebook event page.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is the editor-in-chief of The Deli Magazine—Kansas City. She plays drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. She thinks gingers are dumb.

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Album review: Dead Voices - Dead Voices (EP)

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
“Trust of a Fool” is one of the more straightforward efforts presented on Dead Voices’ self-titled debut EP. It would make for the perfect soundtrack for an episode where The Monkees dress up in cowboy hats and wreak hilarious havoc at a dude ranch run by some old crusty geezer named Cooter.
The EP is at the apex of its success when the band follows a looser devotion to the “twang rock” formula and allows the instrumentation to ebb and flow accordingly. “Dream Notes” is the prime example of this. With a beautifully constructed forty seconds of instrumental introduction, several well-placed beat changes, and a genuinely doting vocal performance, this song features some the strongest moments on the EP. Symphonic and long-winded in all the right ways, it comes across like Bob Dylan fronting some of the more introspective numbers of the Rolling Stones’ catalog.
“Rain or Shine” features the band letting its jam band flag shine a bit. “Whore’s Lament” returns to more straightforward country, picking and grinning its way across the land of tumbleweeds and minor. “Virginia Avenue” brings to mind the crackling audition of a shiny new Bell radio on the shelf of a stuffy electronics store in the mid ‘60s, the sounds of the service bell from the gas station across the street competing with the Buddy Holly-tinged shuffle composition.
At first listen as Dead Voices chugged along towards its conclusion, a thought kept crossing my mind: “Man, these guys would pair great with The Grisly Hand.” Much to my surprise—and enjoyment—Lauren Krum makes a wonderful guest appearance on the final track, “Pardoning.” Much as she does for The Grisly Hand, her vocals harmonize seamlessly with David Regnier’s to immense effect, elevating the otherwise square-shooting effort into something more dynamic and special. (Editor’s note: Matt Richey and Mike Stover are both members of Dead Voices as well as The Grisly Hand)
You can catch Dead Voices at recordBar tomorrow night, January 19, with Hadacol and Eric. The show starts at 10 p.m. Facebook event page.
--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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KC Open Submission Results for The Deli Magazine’s Year End Poll, 2013

Thanks to everyone who submitted for our open submissions, as well as helped spread the word and give bands a chance to have their music heard by critics around the country. After tallying the votes for the Open Submissions stage of our KC Year End Poll, it’s time to release the results. Please note that no editor was allowed to vote for bands in their own scene.
Acts advancing to our Readers/Fans Poll with a ranking above 6.5:
1. Clairaudients – 7.5
1. Me Like Bees – 7.5
3. Dsoedean – 7.3
4. Wolf, the Rabbit – 7.2
5. Not A Planet – 7
9. The Dead Girls – 6.5
9. Kurt Vee – 6.5
Honorable Mentions (ranked above 6.0):
Dinsdale – 6.25
Total submissions from KC: 26
WHAT’S NEXT: These results end the first phase of the poll. In the next few days we’ll unveil the artists nominated by our local jurors, and we’ll let our readers and writers influence the poll with their vote.
Thanks to all of the acts who submitted to us. Keep creating, keep supporting, and stay tuned for your chance to vote!
The Deli KC Staff

Album review: Lennon Bone - Call It A Custom (EP)

Awhile back I spoke of the redeeming values of the EP during my review of the latest Katy Guillen and the Girls release (see that review here). I mentioned that one of two ways that the short-form album works best is to give a newer artist a chance to get their music out more quickly than waiting to have enough material for a full-length album. The second benefit of the EP, in my mind, is to let established artists work on their craft by experimenting with new material or a new sound, and in the process exploring their own capabilities.
Enter Lennon Bone, the drummer and co-vocalist for Ha Ha Tonka (a quick side note: if you haven’t already done so, add Ha Ha Tonka’s new album Lessons to your music collection as soon as possible). Bone, founder of Sharp County Records, released his first solo effort, Lost/Accolades, in late 2011—an eight-track album that was more like two EPs of vastly diverse inspiration joined together. It was his debut as a solo artist, giving him a chance to see where he could take his music on his own, and the results were very well received. Now he offers another four-track mini-album, Call It A Custom, which not only reveals Bone as having more confidence to express his voice and individuality, but also shows a conscious effort to establish himself as a man of his own style and not one to lean on the success of his collaborations with his bandmates. Bone looks upon his solo work as a way to express the musical side of him that he doesn’t have the opportunity to follow through with Ha Ha Tonka, but he readily admits that his band probably does influence him in a subliminal way.
He certainly fills the shoes of one-man band quite nicely; the credits prove that Bone isn’t content to just sit behind a drum kit, as he provides vocals, guitars, bass, trumpet, keys, and computer wizardry as well as percussion duties. The result is a sound that’s gentle, warm, sleepy, and unhurried—making Call It A Custom an easier-than-easy listen. From the retro-Casio sound lending a sterile comfort to the opening track, “They All Seem To Know” to the reservedly-bouncy “Sinking Feelings” to the sublime slither and Tom Petty-esque feel of “Leave It To Us” to the atmospheric stop-and-go of the title track, Bone covers quite a bit of territory in fifteen short minutes. It’s a journey that he seemingly enjoys taking… and one that may be more of a reality at an undetermined point. When asked if he would like to eventually take his own music on the road, Bone said that it’s a possibility but many factors would have to be weighed before making that jump—putting a band together, booking shows while working around Ha Ha Tonka’s schedule, and most important of all, being a doting father to his baby daughter Brada.
Whether a full-fledged tour ever happens, it’s clear that Lennon Bone is a gifted musician and songwriter in his own right. With the wonderfully-presented Call It A Custom furthering his overall musical output, both as a band member and an individual artist, it appears that one could look at his career thus far…


…and call it a good one.
--Michael Byars 

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