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Album Review: Thuh Chocolate Hogboys — The Penaissance

Iowa City’s rotating ensemble of veiled space cadets, Thuh Chocolate Hogboys, have given to the world their 30-track, eight-hour freak-of-nature The Penaissance (phallic, indeed), due to drop as a 12-sided cassette on a mysterious day in June. Bad Hogboy and Fluffy Kitten Chubby Hogboy were the primary engines behind the record, with contributions from the likes of Spirit Cakes Hogboy, It’s Hogboy, Wee Wee Pee Pee Hogboy, Bleauhardt Hogboy, Ded Claun Hogboy, Normal Hogboy, Vuhnilia Hoggirl and Awe Mane Hogboy. […]

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Album Review: Brian Johannesen — Northern Town

“Let’s go back to Maggie Valley,” lopes Brian Johannesen’s precision drawl at the outset of the opening track to his just-released Northern Town. Track two, “Cascade Mountain Nights,” embraces the chorus, “If I ever get out of Oregon …” Track three, “Two Hot Dogs and a Coke,” turns Johannesen’s adept storytelling skills to recounting childhood memory. […]

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Album Review: Attentat — Reflective Surface

Thomas Kamholz, a.k.a. Attentat, has been a part of the underground electronic scene for two decades; he’s DJed and performed at raves from the New Mexico desert to the Colorado backcountry to former Eastern Bloc Germany. When he relocated to Iowa City three years ago he founded the vinyl-only techno label Wage Slave. For his fourth release on the label — and his first physical release under this alias — Attentat cuts three throbbing, cavernous tracks on Reflective Surface that explore bounded spaces and how we interact with those. The album features two originals, plus a remix of the title track by L.A.-based artist Israel Vines. […]

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Album Review: Cubits — Cubits

The debut self-titled album from the Fairfield synth-pop trio Cubits is an entrancing, haunting listen that you’ll want to hide inside of for a few days — like the blanket fort where your imagination ran wild as a kid. If you like feeling a little alone and separate in a public place, this is your headphone companion for sure. […]

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Album Review: Elizabeth Moen — That’s All I Wanted

On her sophomore output, That’s All I Wanted, Elizabeth Moen ditches the acoustic guitar for a full ensemble of electric guitars, bass and percussion (and one piano ballad). Her record embraces the hollows of Luke Tweedy’s refurbished barn-turned-recording-studio at Flat Black Studios — she transfigures folk into an experience in the totality of instruments. But her vocals never shy away from the driver’s seat. […]

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Album Review: NAOMI — Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

In Cedar Rapids we appear to have a new trend of band names that are, um, a name: DICKIE, Colleen and the latest of these: NAOMI, which is named after its radically asymmetrically-coiffed frontwoman.

NAOMI aptly calls their high-energy music “snarky pop/rock.” On their debut record, Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish, I hear bits of Garbage, No Doubt, P!nk and Avril Lavigne peppered through the songs. Songs like “Hell To Pay,” “A Common Story (I Know)” and “Sex Appeal” all adhere closely to the compressed and distorted guitars, stomping drums and fun synth lines. The layers of Naomi’s edgy vocals in harmony and unison carry the melodic hooks into earworm territory. […]

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Album Review: Jordan Mayland & the Thermal Detonators — This Mess

Come for the harmony; stay for the melancholy. The soul-stirring Ames/Des Moines pop unit Jordan Mayland & the Thermal Detonators delivers a tantalizingly dark treat with its generous new record This Mess, their first LP from the hand-made Nova Labs label.

Mayland is a veteran of some of Iowa’s best bands of the past two decades, starting with the beloved early 2000s (local) hitmakers Keepers of the Carpet and continuing through today with acts like Volcano Boys and TIRES. The Thermal Detonators are Dave Atchison, Paul Hertz, Sean Huston, Claire Kruesel and Frank McBroom — a seasoned outfit that blends voices and diverse instrumentation into a rich sound that feels gracious, even compassionate. You can hear the band listening. […]

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Album Review: Bridget Kearney — Won’t Let You Down

Bridget Kearney Won’t Let You Down bridgetkearney.bandcamp.com MCF: Bridget Kearney with Elizabeth Moen, Paul Cary The Mill — Wednesday, April 5 at 10 p.m., $12-15 Won't Let You Down by Bridget Kearney The title song that starts the album, the obvious “single” (if that even means anything), is a sunny, upbeat number layered with unsettling […]

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Album Review: MacMillan & Spengler — Demonstration

Iowa City experimental electronic musicians Ian MacMillan and Brendan Spengler joined forces in 2012 to create the sound of bees for an Iowa City installation. The duo has collaborated on a number of projects since, most recently this recently released cassette, Demonstration.

Spengler, who plays a combo organ and analog synthesizers in the duo, is a transplant from Memphis, Tennessee and was trained as a classical pianist before moving on to play in the Memphis rock and punk scene that revolved around the label Goner Records. […]

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Album Review: Anthony Worden — Ideal Conceptions of the Beautiful and Good

Once labeled freaks, David Bowie and Lou Reed broke down the confines of masculinity found in the prototypical rock star persona of their time, while reimagining the vivacity and delicacy of rock and roll when others were preoccupied with LSD-laden fantasias (though that didn’t keep them away from their respective addled phases). Their legacies are undoubted; they carved a path of self-indulgence, spanning influences between Americana, krautrock, electronic and more. […]

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Album Review: Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable

Occasionally, a recording reaches out of the speakers and grabs you — shakes you — doesn’t invite but demands that you trip with it along whatever imagined pathways it produces. Abominable, the first full-length release from Dubuque’s Telekinetic Yeti (out on Sump Pump Records March 17) may just be the first such album of 2017. […]

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Album Review: Beyond Peace — Beyond Peace

Beyond Peace Beyond Peace beyondpeacehc.bandcamp.com Beyond Peace by Beyond PeaceIt’s not original to compare metal and punk music. Both use loudness as their primary gesture, both use distortion pedals, both employ screamy vocals. However, Beyond Peace’s sound draws on both genres, which heightens the intensity of the music. Rather than the verse/chorus/verse of punk rock, […]

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