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Album Review: Pink Neighbor — ‘Time Beach Universe’

The brightly illustrated Peter Max-influenced pop-art cover of Time Beach Universe, the debut album from Grinnell band Pink Neighbor, gives us a pretty good idea of what lies within. But, it’s not all tangerine trees and marmalade skies — it’s a perfect pastiche of the full variety of 1960s party pop. The neighborly tone of the record is set at the […]

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Album Review: Al Naylor — ‘Friends’

It’s impossible to consider Al Naylor’s album Friends without addressing the underlying fact behind its creation. Naylor — nothing short of a legend in the region’s jazz community as both an educator and a player — has been diagnosed with a health condition that will soon force his early retirement from performing. In the face of the news, […]

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Album Review: Dan Padley — ‘Perfectly Whelmed’

Dan Padley, a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Music, has been a versatile asset to Iowa City’s music scene. From touring with singer/songwriter Elizabeth Moen to performing with his band Laranja, he’s a player’s player, meshing seamlessly with the music at hand. Perfectly Whelmed seems more personal and reflective than his […]

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Album Review: Halfloves — ‘Dazer’

When a band takes the time to create an album as a single work and does it well, as Iowa City band Halfloves has done with their second album Dazer, the investment of experiencing the whole work pays off. Overall, Dazer explores a theme of human connection or, in some cases, the lack thereof. […]

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Album Review: Pieta Brown — ‘Freeway’

The press material for Pieta Brown’s new album, Freeway, quotes guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker asking, “what kind of music IS this? Prairie gaze?!” The question, while humorous, touches on the sonic explorations of the sessions that make up her eighth album. For her first album on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label, Brown returned to Justin […]

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Album Review: Pollinators — ‘Return Home’

At first listen, Pollinators’ new album, Return Home (out Oct. 4) seems to be from an era that never existed, but should have. It’s a version of the 1990s where Jer Bear got healthy and the swing revival never happened. Energizing guitar riffs make you want to lace up your Docs and jam. It sounds like Weezer before and after their pop makeover […]

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Album Review: ZUUL — ‘ZUUL II’

Go to any ZUUL show, stand in the back then watch as the screaming aggression, pulsing rhythm section and melodic shift into doomed riffs enrapture the audience. It’s hard not to be swayed by their end-of-the-world, cathartic, danceable anthems. Capturing a sound like that in the studio is difficult. Capturing that feeling while […]

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Album Review: DICKIE — ‘Minus Thieves’

If various comic book universes have taught us anything, it’s that every hero needs an origin story. For DICKIE, that was their 2015 self-titled release—a concept album summarizing songwriter and vocalist Dick Prall’s life to that point. Returning like Superman from the Fortress of Solitude, Prall has reconvened DICKIE with a different lineup […]

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Album Review: John William Watkins — ‘The Oracle’ EP

John William Watkins, an Iowa native living in New York City, showcases his songwriting and singing in minimal acoustic arrangements on The Oracle EP, released June 21. His lyrics deal with evergreen topics of love and loneliness, from his point of view as a gay man. Watkins sings blunt, personal lyrics in a gentle, quavering voice

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Album Review: Jarrett Purdy — ‘Motion & Stillness’

Motion and Stillness by Jarrett Purdy Garrett Purdy is a pianist, a composer and a recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s School of Music (and through the end of July, he’s an intern at Hancher Auditorium, where I am on staff). His debut album, Motion & Stillness, is entirely made up of his jazz […]

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