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Album Reviews: Annalibera — OPIA

In her interview with the Pants-Off Podcast, Anna Gebhardt discussed the difficulty of coming up with a succinct genre for her band Annalibera. “I was going for a sound that would combine sort of where I came from with what I like to listen to: I like experimental music, I like electronic music, I like classical music and I like rock — you know, like just rock and roll. I came from Nebraska where I grew up listening to my mom’s country music station. So, I was trying to combine all of that into some loud music.” […]

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Album Review: Jim Swim — In It With You

Weighing in at five tracks and 18 minutes, In It With You, the newest EP from Iowa artist Jim Swim, is difficult to pigeonhole in terms of genre. If pressed, I would describe it as a blend of hip hop, Nick Drake bootlegs, a book of poems by Rumi and a cold Arnold Palmer spiked with a little bit of whiskey. […]

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Album Review: Thomas Comerford — Blood Moon

The songs that make up Thomas Comerford’s new album, Blood Moon, weren’t necessarily planned to be an album. His goal following his 2014 album, II, was just to keep writing and recording songs at every opportunity without the pressure of a formal album release. He took the chance to work with Chicago acts such as Tatsu Aoki of experimental jazz group Miyumi Project, Panoramic & True, vocalist Amalea Tshilds and singer/pianist Azita Youssefi among others. Last summer he realized that he had a collection of songs that made sense as an album release. […]

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Album Review: Mock Identity — Paradise

For many eastern Iowans, your foot in the door to Mock Identity, a new band formed just last winter, is bassist Joshua David Hoffman, formerly of Supersonic Piss, which bowed out of the Iowa City scene in 2013. The band’s farewell blog entry, posted just under five years ago, indicated that Hoffman was off to new endeavors in D.C. — there, he built the connections that led to this new act’s formation, and resulted in Paradise, a debut that is more than Iowa City fans could have hoped for. […]

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Album Review: Koplant No — Elker

The opening track “Before We Go” on the reunited Koplant No’s new album “Elker” is a compound of skittering synth decay and dripping percussion flitting around a lone trumpet carrying a mournful melody. It’s a track that would fit perfectly on a Jack Lion record — which seems obvious when you consider that fellow Iowa City group Jack Lion shares Brian Lewis Smith on trumpet and Drew Morton on bass.
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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: 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: 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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