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Album Review: King of the Tramps — Wild Water

The Tramps’ latest album, Wild Water, returns with the southern rock-influenced formula the band is known for — dual Allman Brothers-style guitar leads, searing slide, driving drums and lots of groove. Partridge draws from his small town Iowa experiences, yet delivers songs I think can resonate with anyone. But, while I wouldn’t call Wild Water a political record per se, it’s clear that Partridge has had some hot button issues on his mind. […]

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Album Review: Thrio — We Like To Have Fun

In the bio for Eastern Iowa jazz trio Thrio, they describe themselves as “chord-less” — a somewhat clumsy way to explain that the band, as a trio of sax, bass and drums, doesn’t incorporate any instruments that play chords (keyboards or guitars for example). This isn’t a new idea for jazz — in fact, Sonny Rollins is credited with pioneering this configuration in 1957, which in turn influenced sax-led trios for decades to follow. In an interview with The New York Times in 2007, Rollins said that the lack of piano allowed him freedom to play outside of a song structure typically dictated by it.

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Album Review: Annalibera — OPIA

In her interview with the Pants-Off Podcast, Anna Gebhardt discussed the difficulty of coming up with a succinct genre for her band Annalibera. “I was going for a sound that would combine sort of where I came from with what I like to listen to: I like experimental music, I like electronic music, I like classical music and I like rock — you know, like just rock and roll. I came from Nebraska where I grew up listening to my mom’s country music station. So, I was trying to combine all of that into some loud music.” […]

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Album Review: Thomas Comerford — Blood Moon

The songs that make up Thomas Comerford’s new album, Blood Moon, weren’t necessarily planned to be an album. His goal following his 2014 album, II, was just to keep writing and recording songs at every opportunity without the pressure of a formal album release. He took the chance to work with Chicago acts such as Tatsu Aoki of experimental jazz group Miyumi Project, Panoramic & True, vocalist Amalea Tshilds and singer/pianist Azita Youssefi among others. Last summer he realized that he had a collection of songs that made sense as an album release. […]

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Album Review: Lissie — Castles

Lissie’s 2016 album “My Wild West” centered around being homesick for the Midwest. But now that she’s living here in northeast Iowa on her own “40 acres in the sun” (to quote that album’s “Hero”), she’s apparently having boyfriend issues on her latest, “Castles.” […]

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Album Review: Koplant No — Elker

The opening track “Before We Go” on the reunited Koplant No’s new album “Elker” is a compound of skittering synth decay and dripping percussion flitting around a lone trumpet carrying a mournful melody. It’s a track that would fit perfectly on a Jack Lion record — which seems obvious when you consider that fellow Iowa City group Jack Lion shares Brian Lewis Smith on trumpet and Drew Morton on bass.
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Album Review: BEES — Shady Lady EP

The early 1970s was a dynamic time for country music. The old guard of ’50s and ’60s country artists started taking a backseat to the rise of artists crossing over with rock and R&B who took over the Top 40: artists like Glen Campbell, Mac Davis, John Denver, Elvis in his post-’68 Comeback period, Jerry Reed and J.J. Cale. […]

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