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Album Review: Samuel Locke Ward — Radio Icarus Noise Buffet

We’re now over 50 albums deep into the career of Iowa City’s home-studio legend Samuel Locke Ward. He is, as they say, prolific. But the scale of his output wouldn’t be much more than a gimmick if not for the fact that he has maintained an almost unbroken string of high quality across his entire massive catalog. […]

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Album Review: The Host Country — The Host Country

The Host Country started as a Cedar Falls-based duo with Diana Weishaar and Ty Wistrand supplying tasteful piano and guitar settings to generous pop songs that they could really lay into hard in live settings. Since those early days the two have been vocal soul-mates with perfectly complementary timbres that make their songs ring. […]

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Album Review: Ramona and the Sometimes — Negative Space Is a Positive Thing

Ramona Muse Lambert — a visual artist, designer and teacher in addition to her notable performance art, music and emceeing career — is singer and songwriter for Ramona and the Sometimes, a Des Moines group just out with a new album, Negative Space Is a Positive Thing, recorded at Wabi Sound and self-released. The band members, all of whom contribute vocals, include Brian Brown on guitar, Katelyn Brown on keyboards, Dave Larsen on bass and Derek Muse Lambert on drums. […]

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Album Review: Pants OFF! podcast — Mixtape Vol. 1

One of the joys of the podcast format is that it opens up the role of producer to anyone with a recording device and the internet, allowing for extremely specific interests to be explored in depth, episodically. A local gem in the ultra-special-interest category is the Pants OFF! podcast hosted by Brian Campos. The show features in-depth discussions with Iowa musicians about their art, interests and careers as well as samples of their music. Artists from a broad range of genres — from hip hop to folk to metal to pop — appear on the podcast, but what they all share in common is the meta-category of Iowa music. […]

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Album Review: Cubits — Cubits

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. […]

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Album Review: Jordan Mayland & the Thermal Detonators — This Mess

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. […]

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Enter the ‘Crawlspaces of Love’: An introduction to Flavor Basket

“Which parking lot are we gonna live in now?” Charlie Vestal was a creature of parking lots, basements, DIY venues, skate parks, junk stores and late night song circles. His song “Night Motivation,” his parking lot paean, has stricken me deeply lately and I can’t see the nighttime locales of Ames, his haunts for the […]

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Album Review: Night Pits — Last Night Forever

Night Pits Last Night Forever nightpits.bandcamp.com Last Night Forever by Night Pits Writing a punk anthem is a fundamentally communitarian act. The idea is that anyone — whether they think they can sing or not — can and will be screaming along in one joyous voice. If only for 20 sweaty minutes in a darkened […]

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