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Album Review: Crystal City — Bartenderly

Iowa City band Crystal City’s newest record Bartenderly molds midwestern milieu into 17 tracks of honest-to-goodness barroom rockers and ballads — the kind not heard from perhaps since the Replacements dragged their lager-soaked poetry to the masses. It’s clear that Dave Helmer and Sam Drella worship at the Temple of Westerberg with their loose and quick first-take don’t-look-back approach to chugging rock and roll. […]

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Album Review: Pants OFF! podcast — Mixtape Vol. 1

One of the joys of the podcast format is that it opens up the role of producer to anyone with a recording device and the internet, allowing for extremely specific interests to be explored in depth, episodically. A local gem in the ultra-special-interest category is the Pants OFF! podcast hosted by Brian Campos. The show features in-depth discussions with Iowa musicians about their art, interests and careers as well as samples of their music. Artists from a broad range of genres — from hip hop to folk to metal to pop — appear on the podcast, but what they all share in common is the meta-category of Iowa music. […]

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Album Review: The Dawn — Wooly

As we look on the landscape of music generally described as “jam band” 50 years after the Summer of Love, it is dotted with pretty much every musical subgenre one can think of—much wider than the folky, psychedelic rock and country music of genre progenitors the Grateful Dead. The term today describes bands that share a common spirit of approach to performing music—one part is the improvisation at the heart of it; the other part is the community of fans who embrace that improvisation. […]

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Album Review: Good Morning Midnight — Basket of Flowers

The ’90s, in its sentimentalities and aesthetics, holds a certain hankering for its glossy, bouncy pop music. From Oasis to Weezer, there’s an implicit innocence at odds with an ever-corrupting world. Recreating the sensibilities of this era, Iowa City singer-songwriter Charlie Cacciatore’s solo project Good Morning Midnight is releasing their debut album Basket of Flowers on July 21. CDs are available through Nova Labs, and the Iowa City release show will be September 15 at The Mill. […]

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Album Review: Druids — Cycles of Mobeum

Des Moines’ Druids has drastically brought their influences to the forefront on their latest album. ‘Cycles of Mobeum’ (2016) — a 43-minute odyssey charting the journey of the character Warpia on her planet Mobeum — warps and bends between unflinching highlights of aspects from influences such as Mastodon and Iron Maiden, Sleep and Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. […]

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Album Review: The Fuss — The Fuss

The Fuss — a Des Moines-based rock band who have released a couple of EPs in recent years — make the kind of catchy pop rock music that reminds one of Tommy Tutone or The Replacements. Their self-titled debut album, which includes four tracks from an earlier EP, drops July 1. […]

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Album Review: Thuh Chocolate Hogboys — The Penaissance

Iowa City’s rotating ensemble of veiled space cadets, Thuh Chocolate Hogboys, have given to the world their 30-track, eight-hour freak-of-nature The Penaissance (phallic, indeed), due to drop as a 12-sided cassette on a mysterious day in June. Bad Hogboy and Fluffy Kitten Chubby Hogboy were the primary engines behind the record, with contributions from the likes of Spirit Cakes Hogboy, It’s Hogboy, Wee Wee Pee Pee Hogboy, Bleauhardt Hogboy, Ded Claun Hogboy, Normal Hogboy, Vuhnilia Hoggirl and Awe Mane Hogboy. […]

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Album Review: Brian Johannesen — Northern Town

“Let’s go back to Maggie Valley,” lopes Brian Johannesen’s precision drawl at the outset of the opening track to his just-released Northern Town. Track two, “Cascade Mountain Nights,” embraces the chorus, “If I ever get out of Oregon …” Track three, “Two Hot Dogs and a Coke,” turns Johannesen’s adept storytelling skills to recounting childhood memory. […]

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Album Review: Attentat — Reflective Surface

Thomas Kamholz, a.k.a. Attentat, has been a part of the underground electronic scene for two decades; he’s DJed and performed at raves from the New Mexico desert to the Colorado backcountry to former Eastern Bloc Germany. When he relocated to Iowa City three years ago he founded the vinyl-only techno label Wage Slave. For his fourth release on the label — and his first physical release under this alias — Attentat cuts three throbbing, cavernous tracks on Reflective Surface that explore bounded spaces and how we interact with those. The album features two originals, plus a remix of the title track by L.A.-based artist Israel Vines. […]

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Album Review: Cubits — Cubits

The debut self-titled album from the Fairfield synth-pop trio Cubits is an entrancing, haunting listen that you’ll want to hide inside of for a few days — like the blanket fort where your imagination ran wild as a kid. If you like feeling a little alone and separate in a public place, this is your headphone companion for sure. […]

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Album Review: Elizabeth Moen — That’s All I Wanted

On her sophomore output, That’s All I Wanted, Elizabeth Moen ditches the acoustic guitar for a full ensemble of electric guitars, bass and percussion (and one piano ballad). Her record embraces the hollows of Luke Tweedy’s refurbished barn-turned-recording-studio at Flat Black Studios — she transfigures folk into an experience in the totality of instruments. But her vocals never shy away from the driver’s seat. […]

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