As we look on the landscape of music generally described as “jam band” 50 years after the Summer of Love, it is dotted with pretty much every musical subgenre one can think of—much wider than the folky, psychedelic rock and country music of genre progenitors the Grateful Dead. The term today describes bands that share a common spirit of approach to performing music—one part is the improvisation at the heart of it; the other part is the community of fans who embrace that improvisation. […]
The ’90s, in its sentimentalities and aesthetics, holds a certain hankering for its glossy, bouncy pop music. From Oasis to Weezer, there’s an implicit innocence at odds with an ever-corrupting world. Recreating the sensibilities of this era, Iowa City singer-songwriter Charlie Cacciatore’s solo project Good Morning Midnight is releasing their debut album Basket of Flowers on July 21. CDs are available through Nova Labs, and the Iowa City release show will be September 15 at The Mill. […]
Des Moines’ Druids has drastically brought their influences to the forefront on their latest album. ‘Cycles of Mobeum’ (2016) — a 43-minute odyssey charting the journey of the character Warpia on her planet Mobeum — warps and bends between unflinching highlights of aspects from influences such as Mastodon and Iron Maiden, Sleep and Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. […]
The Fuss — a Des Moines-based rock band who have released a couple of EPs in recent years — make the kind of catchy pop rock music that reminds one of Tommy Tutone or The Replacements. Their self-titled debut album, which includes four tracks from an earlier EP, drops July 1. […]
The self-titled EP from Des Moines punk rockers Broken Ones, which dropped June 3 from Sump Pump records, is a fun, frenzied attack on the senses. The four tracks on the 7” barely break six minutes total, but they’re jam-packed with action. […]
Iowa City’s rotating ensemble of veiled space cadets, Thuh Chocolate Hogboys, have given to the world their 30-track, eight-hour freak-of-nature The Penaissance (phallic, indeed), due to drop as a 12-sided cassette on a mysterious day in June. Bad Hogboy and Fluffy Kitten Chubby Hogboy were the primary engines behind the record, with contributions from the likes of Spirit Cakes Hogboy, It’s Hogboy, Wee Wee Pee Pee Hogboy, Bleauhardt Hogboy, Ded Claun Hogboy, Normal Hogboy, Vuhnilia Hoggirl and Awe Mane Hogboy. […]
“Let’s go back to Maggie Valley,” lopes Brian Johannesen’s precision drawl at the outset of the opening track to his just-released Northern Town. Track two, “Cascade Mountain Nights,” embraces the chorus, “If I ever get out of Oregon …” Track three, “Two Hot Dogs and a Coke,” turns Johannesen’s adept storytelling skills to recounting childhood memory. […]
Thomas Kamholz, a.k.a. Attentat, has been a part of the underground electronic scene for two decades; he’s DJed and performed at raves from the New Mexico desert to the Colorado backcountry to former Eastern Bloc Germany. When he relocated to Iowa City three years ago he founded the vinyl-only techno label Wage Slave. For his fourth release on the label — and his first physical release under this alias — Attentat cuts three throbbing, cavernous tracks on Reflective Surface that explore bounded spaces and how we interact with those. The album features two originals, plus a remix of the title track by L.A.-based artist Israel Vines. […]
The debut self-titled album from the Fairfield synth-pop trio Cubits is an entrancing, haunting listen that you’ll want to hide inside of for a few days — like the blanket fort where your imagination ran wild as a kid. If you like feeling a little alone and separate in a public place, this is your headphone companion for sure. […]
On her sophomore output, That’s All I Wanted, Elizabeth Moen ditches the acoustic guitar for a full ensemble of electric guitars, bass and percussion (and one piano ballad). Her record embraces the hollows of Luke Tweedy’s refurbished barn-turned-recording-studio at Flat Black Studios — she transfigures folk into an experience in the totality of instruments. But her vocals never shy away from the driver’s seat. […]
In Cedar Rapids we appear to have a new trend of band names that are, um, a name: DICKIE, Colleen and the latest of these: NAOMI, which is named after its radically asymmetrically-coiffed frontwoman.
NAOMI aptly calls their high-energy music “snarky pop/rock.” On their debut record, Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish, I hear bits of Garbage, No Doubt, P!nk and Avril Lavigne peppered through the songs. Songs like “Hell To Pay,” “A Common Story (I Know)” and “Sex Appeal” all adhere closely to the compressed and distorted guitars, stomping drums and fun synth lines. The layers of Naomi’s edgy vocals in harmony and unison carry the melodic hooks into earworm territory. […]
Come for the harmony; stay for the melancholy. The soul-stirring Ames/Des Moines pop unit Jordan Mayland & the Thermal Detonators delivers a tantalizingly dark treat with its generous new record This Mess, their first LP from the hand-made Nova Labs label.
Mayland is a veteran of some of Iowa’s best bands of the past two decades, starting with the beloved early 2000s (local) hitmakers Keepers of the Carpet and continuing through today with acts like Volcano Boys and TIRES. The Thermal Detonators are Dave Atchison, Paul Hertz, Sean Huston, Claire Kruesel and Frank McBroom — a seasoned outfit that blends voices and diverse instrumentation into a rich sound that feels gracious, even compassionate. You can hear the band listening. […]