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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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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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