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Album Review: Pieta Brown — ‘Freeway’

The press material for Pieta Brown’s new album, Freeway, quotes guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker asking, “what kind of music IS this? Prairie gaze?!” The question, while humorous, touches on the sonic explorations of the sessions that make up her eighth album. For her first album on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label, Brown returned to Justin […]

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Album Review: Pollinators — ‘Return Home’

At first listen, Pollinators’ new album, Return Home (out Oct. 4) seems to be from an era that never existed, but should have. It’s a version of the 1990s where Jer Bear got healthy and the swing revival never happened. Energizing guitar riffs make you want to lace up your Docs and jam. It sounds like Weezer before and after their pop makeover […]

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Album Review: ZUUL — ‘ZUUL II’

Go to any ZUUL show, stand in the back then watch as the screaming aggression, pulsing rhythm section and melodic shift into doomed riffs enrapture the audience. It’s hard not to be swayed by their end-of-the-world, cathartic, danceable anthems. Capturing a sound like that in the studio is difficult. Capturing that feeling while […]

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Album Review: DICKIE — ‘Minus Thieves’

If various comic book universes have taught us anything, it’s that every hero needs an origin story. For DICKIE, that was their 2015 self-titled release—a concept album summarizing songwriter and vocalist Dick Prall’s life to that point. Returning like Superman from the Fortress of Solitude, Prall has reconvened DICKIE with a different lineup […]

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Album Review: John William Watkins — ‘The Oracle’ EP

John William Watkins, an Iowa native living in New York City, showcases his songwriting and singing in minimal acoustic arrangements on The Oracle EP, released June 21. His lyrics deal with evergreen topics of love and loneliness, from his point of view as a gay man. Watkins sings blunt, personal lyrics in a gentle, quavering voice

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Album Review: Jarrett Purdy — ‘Motion & Stillness’

Motion and Stillness by Jarrett Purdy Garrett Purdy is a pianist, a composer and a recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s School of Music (and through the end of July, he’s an intern at Hancher Auditorium, where I am on staff). His debut album, Motion & Stillness, is entirely made up of his jazz […]

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Album Review: Land of Blood and Sunshine — ‘House of Bellow’

Listening to Land Of Blood and Sunshine is being taken on a journey through a fantasy world of damaged misfits moving through surrealist landscapes. From their first album, 2009’s Magick Carcass Ride, through their last, 2015’s Lady and the Trance, they’ve continued to spin fables in song form. […]

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Album Review: The Diplomats of Solid Sound — ‘A Higher Place’

The Diplomats of Solid Sound are back with a new slab of soul! The line-up has changed a little since 2010’s fantastic What Goes Around Comes Around, but the core of the band is still Doug Roberson on guitar; Nate “Count” Basinger, who flew up from Austin to provide his signature Hammond B3 and piano; and Eddie McKinley on sax. […]

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