Didya Get Your 80/35 Tickets?

If you’re one of those people who want to wait to get your tickets once you know the lineup, here is you chance to still get presale tix, and know some bands. Watch the video, figure out the clues. Know the lineup. Buy tickets.

In all seriousness, there is something special about 80/35. There is the opportunity to learn about bands and be outside and drink and all that. But my civic pride also wants Des Moines to be a location that music fans look forward to every year. If we can build our rep into, say, a Midwestern Austin, we will get 80/35 caliber bands year round. We need this. I need this.


Concert Review: The Mynabirds with Big Harp – 3-21-12 at Vaudeville Mews

The Mynabirds. Shot with my cell phone from one of the unique vantage points at Vaudeville Mews.

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So, What the Hell Is Good Music Anyway?

I’m out of town, so in light of doing actual work, I thought I would throw this up and maybe start a discussion.

In my Des Moines Is Not Boring column, I talk a little bit about not being a huge fan of The Nadas. I would never go so far as to call them sub-par musicians or anything, they’re just not for me. But they seem to be super popular around town, so maybe I’m just wrong.

A week or so ago, I went to the Gas Lamp for a friend’s birthday party. The Gas Lamp is a cool joint if you haven’t been. The new varnished wood and the bright lights allow the bar to sparkle in a way that some of the other venues in town don’t. I suppose that can be a good or bad thing as sometimes it feels a little too much like hanging out at a bar and listening to music as opposed to being at a concert.

I set out that night to prepare a review of the venue, but my mood and the mood of the crowd kind of impaired me from being truly objective. On this particular night, there were two bands and (I won’t name them because I don’t want it to seem like bad press and that isn’t my goal) I wasn’t a fan. It just seemed a little too immature for my tastes, but man the (very inebriated) masses were having a good time.

So, for those of us in the audience, and heck maybe even some of the artists, how do we acuratly quantify what is “good” and what sucks? To those of us who think we have good taste, what are we looking for in our music? And can someone truly then have a “guilty pleasure”? Also, if we are turning our nose to other audience members for their tastes, why are they wrong? Is it a matter of not being exposed properly?

Anyway, give it some thought and have a good weekend.

80/35 Tickets Go On Sale Today…

…if you’re a member of the Des Moines Music Coalition. It seems silly if you’re not already a member, but if you’re not, head here to do that. Then go here for more info. April 3, bands will be revealed and well, you should get tickets.

This Week @ Des Moines Is Not Boring

Hi. I am talking to you from the past. I am very likely on my way to Minnesota (ANDREW WK!!!!!), so I don’t have a direct link to my column at Des Moines Is Not Boring because I am typing this in the past. So go to the site, it should be up by now I would imagine. Also, read some of the other pieces that are there. It’s a cool site.

Sonic Harvest Brings the Iowa Thunder

As great as I think I am at giving focus to Iowa artists, there is no better way to discover new music than to actually listen to them. well the good folks at Sonic Harvest has given you all a chance to do that in one nice neat little package. Featuring 1 track from 30 different bands, all recorded at the now world famous Sound Farm in Jamaica, IA.

The album features lots of my favorites like Christopher the Conquered, Poison Control Center, Why Make Clocks and Mumford’s to name a few. But luckily for me it features acts I’m not as familiar with like Sean Huston and Pocket Aristotle. So there really is something for everyone.

In addition, the CD release show actually features 14 of these artists all on one show. Starting at 3pm and going until 1am. Bombay Bicycle Club in West Des Moines hosts this event this saturday, and I would highly recommend heading there. Check out the poster above for the schedule (as you can see, yes you do need to be there right at 3). Click here for details.

Christopher the Conquered’s New Video!!!!!

I’m on my way out of town, but I would be a terrible ambassador for Iowa if I didn’t post the new Christopher the Conquered video. Directed by Ashley and Patrick Tape Fleming, this song is available on their new album Christopher the Conquered and His Black & Gold Brass Band Decide…The Fate Of A Good Man which you can pre-order through Maximum Ames Records.

Review: The Men – Open Your Heart

It’s funny how this all works out. In an effort to listen to as many of the best albums of 2011, I pretty much spent the entire month of November scouring reviews and early best of lists so I would have an informed opinion. While searching, I came upon The Men and their album Leave Home . It was an amazing blur of guitars and dirt. I didn’t realize they had a follow up planned so soon, but here we are.

Here is what I find interesting about The Men. They could settle for being a punk band, or a hard rock band, or a metal band, but they don’t. There are quick tracks which highlight the fuzzy guitars like “Turn It Around” and “Animal”, but they follow those with a near six minute grainy guitar instrumental opus “Country Song”, then a seven minute near prog rock follow up.

They alternate between black rock sounds and poppier sounds, but the crushing guitars seem to be the glue that holds each track. If you’re into rock instrumentals, this album has plenty. And the songs that have lyrics all as gruff and grimy as the music they bed. There is a growl and a whine, but never what you would call a classic singing voice.

I was surprised the first time I heard The Men, and surprised to find a new album from them. I was also surprised to see they were playing in Iowa City…this past Tuesday. So, I missed it, but I hope all who went had fun. If you did miss them, get a copy of both of their newest albums and enjoy.

Gross Domestic Product Song of the Day-ish – Hath No Fury – Bruised

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, April 14 to be exact, and I thought to help promote it a little, I would feature a song from one of the bands each day-ish. I probably won’t do it everyday, thus the -ish. For more info on GDP visit the Facebook Event Page or Des Moines Music Coalition’s website

This is a rock band. I mean, lots of bands are rock bands, but GDP usually seems to have the indie prefix attached to whatever they happen to bring in, indie-rap, indie-rock, indie-folk. And while indie just means unsigned, that little prefix usually adds a hauty or experimental air to the proceedings. So while Hath No Fury is by definition an Indie Rock Band, well, they ain’t.

This is guitar rock and roll. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes a six string and a story to tell is all you need to really make an impact. I’ve heard a little bit from this band, and from what I’ve heard, they tend to have a little more of a sweet voice on top of the guitars. For this song, the voice turns a little gruffer, which seems appropriate. (I am aware that there are two different singers. I don’t mean the voice literally, I mean the voice of the band).

I like this and think especially at GDP it will be a nice change of pace to the proceedings. It would be like a breath of fresh air, but instead it would be a breath of menthol smoke and spilled beer. Don’t act like that’s a bad thing.

Incidentally, they are playing with Black Storm Alice and Lady Jules at House of Bricks on Friday. So maybe check them out then, too.

The Mynabirds – Tonight at Vaudeville Mews!

The Mynabirds' Laura Burhenn (from their Facebook)

I have a thing for female musicians, especially ones that lean a little more indie. Not like a sexual thing (although, to be fair, I am very likely to develop a pathetic school boy crush on pretty much any female in a band), I just like the sensitivity and strength female front women bring to their projects. Recent standouts like Lykke Li and Grace Potter and historically strong women like Debbie Harry (as well as Iowa standouts like Elizabeth Arynn and Skye Carrasco) all seem to have an entirely different level of amazing from their male counterparts. Maybe it’s that just by being women they have to work that much harder to be appreciated, which seems like a damn shame, but an unfortunate fact of life.

The Mynabirds are an Omaha alt-indie band featuring the talented Laura Burnhenn. Burnhenn spends her time with this project, but also as an occasional member of Bright Eyes. She is a mutli-instrumental dynamo who bounces musically from Indie folk and pop to an occasional, near-experimental sound. The Mynabirds most recent single, “Generals”, actually seems a little more rock than some of their earlier works. Hell there are times, like “Numbers Don’t Lie”, where there seems to be some 60’s soul influence and the guitar in “Give It Time” has a bit of a Dick Dale or surf rock quality.

There are just a lot of neat things the Mynabirds do musically. They are unafraid to try things differently and it never seems to backfire on them. The piano is heavy and prominent in a lot of songs, absent in others. The vocals go from jaunty to morose, playful to sultry without missing a beat. I am interested in how they perform live because a lot of the sounds come from backing vocals and layers. It will likely differ from the recording, but the pure talent should overcome any issues.

The show also features Saddle Creek label-mates Big Harp and Des Moines’ Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos. It is a 21+ with the first band at 8pm. Go here for more info.