Best Of, Schmest Of

Not to give away too much of the mystery of Little Village backstage, but the lovely and talented Melody asked me to write a post about what my ‘top ten’ or ‘best of’ list for this year, as a NOT SO SUBTLE HINT for those of you who read the blog to go vote here in the KRUI/Little Village Magazine Music Poll.

So there’s your hint. YOU’VE BEEN HINTED, JACK..

I have a little problem with this sort of thing because I have a lot of trouble with the whole ‘which is better’ thing. I either like something, or it makes me want to puke up blood, or i’m indifferent to it. Plus I have lived in Iowa City since the Ford Administration, and I’m loath to leave out friends in the local music community and hurt their feelings, or conversely, show undue favoritism to them. So I’m going to freestyle it and just give a list of things I really like.


Like most new genres, it started in England, which seems to be a giant genre-inventing machine. Dubstep is the bastard offspring of Dub and Two Step — Dub being the originally Jamaican style of stripped down bass-heavy instrumental music, and Two Step being a sort of skippy-beat kind of dance music peculiar to London.

Like any genre there’s plenty of crap tracks that simply rehash the genre touchstones — in this case, deep, wobbly bass and spare beats, with any kind of random music or sound effects over the top. But when it’s good… it’s amazing. My favorite guys doing it are the much-hyped Burial, and Dutch newcomer 2562, who are both a bit out of the mainstream of Dubstep, what with their penchant for crackly noises and whooshing sounds. Burial’s album Untrue, which actually came out last year, sounds like a broken radio playing two R&B stations at once inside a burning building.

But perhaps a better introduction to the genre are a couple of compilations that will expose you to a variety of artists. I’d recommend Round Black Ghosts on the ~Scape label, and Tectonic Plates which covers just the Tectonic label.

Favorite Online Music Store: BOOMKAT

The links in the last paragraph were to Boomkat, a UK online music shop that a) covers a lot of musical territory, not just electronic stuff b) is reasonably priced, even with the dollar<->pound exchange rate c) lets you download high quality mp3 files. Close second would be Bleep which was started by the Warp Records guys. For the broadest catalog of conventional tunes Amazon, isn’t bad, but I hate Amazon’s guts for making me download a special application to purchase entire albums.

Favorite Bricks & Mortar Record Store

Well, there are only two record stores left in Iowa City, and they’re both brilliant, so it’s a tie between The Record Collector and Real Records. It is amazing how little the stock of these two stores overlap, so I never feel disloyal shopping at either. The Record Collector covers rock music in all it’s forms with smaller selections of Jazz, Folk, Electronic, etc. Real is fantastic for Classical, Jazz, Folk, and not too shabby for rock either. The Collector’s got more used stuff in all formats, and Real has a shit-ton of new, used, and new-old-stock vinyl in every genre.

Honorable mention to Rusty’s just down the block from the Collector. His selection has more of a thrift-store feel to it, but the crates are always worth digging through. And Rusty’s records is only one section in a store full of curious artifacts.


LWA is Chris and Matt, both hirsuit Picador bartenders. They set up on tables on the main floor with their own PA, and the foundation of their sound is the mighty Beltone Hearing Test Tone Generator. Surrounding that is a rat’s nest of guitar pedals and effects boxes. With that, they generate a cavernous, amniotic roaring drone that is both frightening and soothing in turns. No two sets sound the same, but the one a few months ago where Matt was lighting his chest hair on fire stands out in my mind.


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