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Album Review: Society of Broken Souls — Midnight and the Pale

Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter are an Iowan roots/country duo who tour constantly around the middle of the United States. Their music is based in the folk tradition that wouldn’t seem novel 50 years ago. […]

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Album Review: Peanut Ricky — I Think I Am Not Okay

A self-described sententious high school student, Jordan Adams (Conetrauma, Jailbus) was frequently skipping class and finding herself in Saturday detention, where she would spend her time in the art room. One day, when sorting through stacks of art prints as she usually did, a particular picture caught her eye. The dark photograph was of a blank wall that read “Peanut Ricky as a thunderbolt.” Adams, now 20 years old, has since released all of her solo music under the namesake. […]

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Album Review: Middle Western — When Your Demons are Underground and You’ve Got to Dig Them Up

When long-time Iowa City scene staple Dave Zollo and Lee County troubadour William Elliott Whitmore started performing together a couple years ago as Middle Western with members of Zollo’s band The Body Electric and Chicago guitarist Stevie Doyle, it seemed a natural fit. […]

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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: Extravision — Waking Up

If you’re familiar with Ryan Stier’s work, it’s probably from regular plays of the theme music for the Iowa Public Radio shows River To River and Talk Of Iowa that his band the River Monks composed. That band enjoyed acclaim particularly for their 2014 album Home Is The House. […]

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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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