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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: Young Charles — Armageddon Party Dress

Mitch McAndrew, both the vocal and songwriting chops behind Young Charles, comes across on the band’s debut, Armageddon Party Dress, as a jazz composer who desperately wants to be a folk singer (with a slight addiction to pop melancholy). The genres fuse and break, weave in and out of each other in ways that evoke the mid- to late-’70s years when Joni Mitchell and Billy Joel were contemporaries. […]

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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: Jim Swim — In It With You

Weighing in at five tracks and 18 minutes, In It With You, the newest EP from Iowa artist Jim Swim, is difficult to pigeonhole in terms of genre. If pressed, I would describe it as a blend of hip hop, Nick Drake bootlegs, a book of poems by Rumi and a cold Arnold Palmer spiked with a little bit of whiskey. […]

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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: Mock Identity — Paradise

For many eastern Iowans, your foot in the door to Mock Identity, a new band formed just last winter, is bassist Joshua David Hoffman, formerly of Supersonic Piss, which bowed out of the Iowa City scene in 2013. The band’s farewell blog entry, posted just under five years ago, indicated that Hoffman was off to new endeavors in D.C. — there, he built the connections that led to this new act’s formation, and resulted in Paradise, a debut that is more than Iowa City fans could have hoped for. […]

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Album Review: Byrn Paul — Dual Wielder

If you are a fan of guitar virtuosity, don’t bother reading the rest of this review; just go buy this album. Byrn Paul has put in the hours of practice to become a master of the instrument. There’s nothing left out of Dual Wielder because it was too hard to play. If you’re a fan of math rock and the viola da gamba — and who isn’t? — this is the only album you can buy this year that scratches that itch. […]

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Album Review: Piss Exorcist — Piss Exorcist

From the depths of the Eastern Iowa punk scene comes Piss Exorcist’s self-titled album, released this past February. The Piss Exorcist identifications on Bandcamp range from hardcore punk to thrash music, but their Facebook claims they produce “punk bullshit,” which couldn’t be a more fitting classification in the most favorable sense. […]

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