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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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Album Review: Gloom Balloon — Drying the Eyes of the Goddess of Gloom, Underneath the Stars and the Moon

The songs on Des Moines band/project Gloom Balloon’s sophomore album were inspired by life-changing events of falling in love and the birth of Patrick Tape Fleming’s son Nilsson (who makes an appearance on the opening track, “Password”). […]

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Album Review: Har-di-Har — we will will you

‘we will will you’ isn’t about Julie and Andrew Thoreen’s separation as couple and band but rather the subtly uncharted part where they consider coming back from it. The band goes on to describe the album as a record that “invites us into the process of re-commitment.” […]

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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: Ryne Doughty — Date Night

Des Moines-native singer-songwriter Ryne Doughty approached the production of his latest album, Date Night, with the desire to step away from the more stripped-down folk sound of his 2013 album, Under The Willow Tree. “I love that last album and the sound but I just wanted to do something different and really bring these songs to life,” he explained. “All of the songs are still songwriter based, but with more instrumentation and energy.” […]

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Album Review: House of Large Sizes — Idiots Out Wandering Around (Reissue)

It’s impossible to talk about the history of Iowa modern rock without talking about Cedar Falls band House of Large Sizes. During their 17-year run (1986-2003) they released eight albums, including a very brief stint on Columbia Records and a bunch of singles. Since 2003, HOLS has sporadically come out of retirement to play shows in the area to eager fans; this month HOLS put out its first release since 2003’s self-titled album — a gorgeous, expanded, two-LP color vinyl reissue of their 1999 live album. […]

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Album Review: Rust Belt Union — Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic

Trust a joker like Matthew James to open Impromptu Musicals For the Skeptic, his album with the Rust Belt Union, with a song titled “Goodbye.” Like Groucho Marx’s song “Hello, I Must Be Going,” it’s ironic but shows a restlessness mirrored in the lyrics: “But it’s just like before I’m always heading out a door and I never quite get where I’m supposed to go.” […]

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Album Review: Keith Reins and Tara McGovern — Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.
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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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