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Album Review: Dustin Matos — Layers

“Layers” is storytelling symphonic rock at its best. There’s an epic, synth-y feel that could set it as the soundtrack to an ’80s fantasy film — but the narrative is more concise. These aren’t the kind of instrumental tracks that exist to travel alongside someone else’s story. They’re self-contained tales.
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Album Review: Homogenized Terrestrials — Suspension

Phillip Klampe is a veteran of the dark ambient scene, self-releasing his first cassettes in the mid-1990s. His nom de ambient is Homogenized Terrestrials, which is a nod to his similarly long career as a grocery store dairy department manager. […]

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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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Album Review: Commanders — Stones, Stooges and Spacemen

Although Iowa City band Commanders is already revving up some new tunes with a new bassist, their 2017 release Stones, Stooges and Spacemen is well overdue for attention in this space. With its brash title, the album invokes some of the greatest acts in ’60s and ’70s rock and roll and then evokes them throughout with a heavy dose of what Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop and David Bowie had most in common: strut. […]

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Album Review: Traffic Death — Dead End

Let me start out by saying that it brings me so much joy that we have, here in Iowa, a label like Sump Pump Records, that continually releases top-notch metal records. They’re no one-trick pony; they release other genres all the time, including many albums that have been reviewed positively on this page. But someone there knows their heavy music, and I always feel a little rush of joy whenever I open an email or a package from Sump Pump, because I know it’s going to contain something kickass.
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Album Review: Pets With Human Names — Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts, the 2017 sophomore effort from Des Moines three-piece Pets With Human Names, is a tight, solid, confident rock and roll album. The band — Alex Nickeson, Andrew Pierson and Benton Schoenrock — recorded the 10 tracks at Flat Black Studios for a driven, polished disc that will make you want to throw it on repeat.
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Album Review: Treesreach — Some Night You Will Hear Me Crowing

Some Night You Will Hear Me Crowing, the debut album from Cedar Rapids trio treesreach, uses the story of Peter Pan as a thread joining the musical squares in a large double album quilt in the form of symphonic interstitial pieces. Taken by themselves, the rock songs are not directly Peter Pan-themed, but they evoke a sense of melancholy similar to Peter Pan’s afterthought.
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Elite 8: The top albums of 2017

Here is another year of albums to consider. It’s silly to rank music at all and also fun in that it ignites passionate conversations about the art that has moved us (for better or worse) in the last year. Please accept this list as an invitation to hear something new, and introduce us to something new by sending your own list of wonderful musical moments — albums, songs, shows, etc. — from 2017. […]

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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: Ryan Phelan — Memories

Cedar Rapids musician Ryan Phelan has been a mainstay on the close-knit music scene there for years, from beloved jam band Dr. Z’s Experiment to fresh effort Young the Lion. So it’s no surprise that on Memories, his solo effort released last month, he draws on the wide array of Cedar Rapids talent for an album filled with guest appearances, varied genres and local hat tips. […]

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