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Mission Creek 2018: A look back

It is impossible for any one person to offer a complete perspective on the Mission Creek Festival (MCF), as even the avid attendee is still limited to one body and one set of guiding preferences. More than most years I became aware of my limitations as a reviewer and the radically different possibilities for what MCF means, is and becomes. […]

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Elite 8: The top albums of 2017

Here is another year of albums to consider. It’s silly to rank music at all and also fun in that it ignites passionate conversations about the art that has moved us (for better or worse) in the last year. Please accept this list as an invitation to hear something new, and introduce us to something new by sending your own list of wonderful musical moments — albums, songs, shows, etc. — from 2017. […]

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Review: MONO constructs a sonic canvass at Gabe’s

MONO returned to Iowa City after just over a year touring on 2016’s Requiem for Hell. The crowd was oddly thin, but appropriate: it was perhaps the quietest that I had heard Gabe’s during a show. The band was illuminated with a quiet red light, and throughout their set the band seemed to play around its steadfast glow. The light was warm, and evoked a sense of patience that let each band member’s instrument enter into, and exit from, each song. The distinct contribution of each performer could be acknowledged and recognized. Both the band and the audience were equally engaged at the occurrence of sound as it sprang forth from the stage: All present were enraptured at its production, in its occurrence. […]

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Review: Orchestra Iowa brings gusto and grace to John Williams’ beloved film scores

When I spoke with Maestro Timothy Hankewich a few days ahead of Orchestra Iowa’s presentation “John Williams: A Night at the Movies,” he was insistent about one thing. The audience should come to the Paramount Theatre in costume. So Saturday night, I donned a Superman t-shirt and grabbed my reviewing notebook and a pen. With […]

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A hushed full house at The Mill for the Pines, Dead Man Winter

The Mill was the perfect venue on April 19 for a Wednesday night of atmospheric delicacy, performed for a hushed full house. The Pines, local legends transplanted to Minnesota, framed the night with a sense of intimate delicacy. Their first songs, without percussion, allowed the audience to focus on the twining of harmonies and whispered vocals that generated a sense of intimacy. […]

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Aesop Rock’s flawless delivery enthralled fans at the Blue Moose

I walked into the Blue Moose on Monday toward the end of Sandman’s set, listening to him close with what sounded like a prayer before prefacing the onset of Aesop Rock, whom he compared to Mozart as the pinnacle of creativity in the twenty-first century. Although I had never attended a rap performance before, I […]

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Album Review: JCϟjp — Self-titled

JCϟjp JCϟjp jcjp.bandcamp.com/releases JCϟjp by JCϟjp The name JCϟjp is an unpronounceable acronym of the group members’ names, Justin Comer and Jason Palamara. Palamara is a violinist and electronic musician currently working as a lecturer at Iowa State University. Comer is a saxophonist and electronic musician who is one of the people behind the eclectic […]

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Album Review: Josh Fina — Feel Me EP

Josh Fina Feel Me EP www.kindgesturerecords.com Electronic dance music’s natural habitat is a dark room with the sound system turned up until the bass hits you in the solar plexus and your fillings vibrate. The Feel Me EP attacks that milieu with a subtlety and gentleness that seems out of place on the dance floor. […]

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Black Mountain builds an unhurried tension in their June 15 show at The Mill

Black Mountain at the Mill

The opener for the solid summer Wednesday evening crowd at The Mill this week was Majure, who preceded his reputation (signifying mostly a certain laziness on my part, as a Google search took me instantly to his profile). It was my second solo drum show, and while Majure lacked the explosive charisma of Glenn Kotche […]

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Album Review: Blake Shaw — Listen Hear

Blake Shaw Listen Hear www.blakeshawbass.com Listen Hear is the latest release from Iowa City composer/musician Blake Shaw. Recorded at Flat Black Studios, Listen Hear is an incredibly accessible jazz album featuring a strong quintet of players with Shaw on the upright bass, Dan Padley on guitar, Nolan Schroeder and Ryan Smith on respective woodwinds and […]

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Review: The Milk Carton Kids become adorable as they adore each other

Milk Carton Kids Englert Theatre

I was first introduced to the Milk Carton Kids when they opened for Over The Rhine at the Englert on Sep. 24, 2013. It was a Tuesday. I had spent the weekend watching my grandfather, whom I loved deeply, die and become deposited in earth next to his wife. Given that context, the Milk Carton […]

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