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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: 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: 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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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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