A Couple of Links To Take You Into The Weekend

Click this to hear the new Seedlings album, and then go buy it on iTunes.

It has been just over a year since I started writing about music. I started at Des Moines Is Not Boring in July of last year with a review of Mumford’s Triple Trinities, which turned out to be one of my favorite albums and an okay review. I’m going to level with you. When I first started, I thought I was going to be some sort of universally beloved figure who had a hit count of millions and the respect to waltz into any show an just say “Hey, I’m Dave Murphy” and get whatever I want. I thought that I would just be able to sit down and pound out a few hundred words, hit send, and dust off my hands and be awesome. I’m not real sure why I thought that. That is dumb. Throughout this year, I have learned a few other things:

– I am much better at this when I really try, so I shouldn’t half ass things and just accept the outcome.

– You are never universally beloved.

– It takes a year, at least, to figure out your voice. I will let you know how long after that it takes to actually perfect it.

– Iowa is bad ass. When you devote your free time to one area, that area better be awesome.

Anyway, here’s some stuff:

Earlier this week, I mentioned Heartless Bastards. Well, it’s tonight and you should go. I’m gonna go, and you want to be like me, right? I made my return to DMMC’s website just for a preview. That’s how much I am looking forward to this one.

It’s right here.

I also wrote a couple of things for Des Moines is Not Boring in the last couple of weeks. I reviewed the EP from Alex Kintzle and The Davis Brothers (hey, remember what I said about half-assing stuff. Here is me half-assing something). I actually feel bad about how little I like this review, because the album is great. I also reviewed the new album from Seedlings. Incredible album.

So yeah, have a good weekend. Be well.


The Slow March to My Celebration of Being Elderly Is At Least Littered With Great Music

The Heartless Bastards play Wooly’s on July 27

On Monday, I turn 32. It isn’t an age that is easily celebrated or anything. In fact, I’m of the mindset that after, say 30, you really only need to celebrate the tens, 40, 50 60, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 (yes this is how old I plan on being when I die). I think the best use of your birthday as an adult is to analyze the year you just had and decide if you lived your life the way you want, and if maybe you should make changes. You know, figure out what works and what doesn’t.

So, at 31 I had a lot of ups and downs. Professionally, I was stuck in the mud. I am pretty much exactly where I was at 30 with little sign of breaking that. This has caused me great stress and monetary struggles. So, obviously at 32, I need to change that. That seems to be the biggest change I need to make. I need top figure out a way to not be in such a stagnant state and find a way to better support my family. So, 31 has been a little rough, but it’s cool, I think analyzing my failures is the first step towards correcting them, right?

However, it was 31 year old me who finally started writing publicly. By finally swallowing my fear and allowing you to read shit I’ve written instead of my usual start something and then bury it that I did pretty much from adolescence on, I have been able to broaden my horizons, learn more about my hometown and make lots of new friends and gain experience and confidence. So, that’s something, right?

Anyway, all confusion about the maturation process aside, it seems as if the promoters in this town are excited for the day of my birth, so they have decided to almost ridiculously pack this week with a bunch of cool national acts, so let’s dive in.

Jane Rose & The Dead End Boys – July 24 Gas Lamp

Some fun Nashville rockabilly with an awesome female lead. Should be a hoot and it should be quick and loud.

Todd Snider and Hayes Carll – July 25 Wooly’s

Todd Snider is a gifted wordsmith and awesome songwriter, but this show is all about Hayes Carll for me. He is a country star who brings a lot of the swagger lost in the pop-ification of the genre.

Nachtmystium – July 26 Vaudeville Mews (All Ages)

Those who tell me about metal shows say this one is pretty special. So, if you’re into metal, maybe check this one out.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – July 26 Simon Estes

80/35 Vets Grace Potter and the Nocturnals return to Des Moines in support of their new album, The Lion, The Beast, The Beat. I like them. I like this new album more than the last one, and some of their early stuff is breathtaking. Also, she’s very pretty, if that’s your thing.

Scott Lucas and The Married Men – Vaudeville Mews – July 26 (21+)

The lead and brains behind the great Local H, Scott Lucas has devoted a lot of time to this new project, which shares some of Local H’s tendencies, but not a lot of its sound. Still, a great show to check out.

Heartless Bastards w/ Love Songs For Lonely Monsters – Wooly’s July 27

Heartless Bastards are incredible. They are part folk, part country, part garage rock. Their new album The Arrow has been in rotation for a while now. They are incredible. Plus, the great LS4LM from Des Moines open. This one will be awesome and completely can’t miss.

JEFF The Brotherhood – Vaudeville Mews – July 29

Another one that I am super excited about. JEFF The Brotherhood are filthy garage rock that is just quick and loud. I am super pumped about that. And hey, it’s a late show, so maybe at midnight we can all celebrate me being old.

The Empty Spaces w/ No Good Deed and Ladysoal – July 30 Gas Lamp

Hey, it’s my birthday.

Album Review – Olsen Twinns – Found Things

This first time I listened to this album, I was making pancakes. I burned them.

I think a lot of us tend to have music as part of our lives, not as a focus in our lives. What I mean by that is so many of us love music and love what it does for us, but I think we tend to take it a little for granted. A lot of the time our musical experiences tend to be less of a just sit down and enjoy and more of an ambiance we tote around. Music is the soundtrack to our lives, but it isn’t our lives.

Sometimes when I review albums, I like to listen the first time while doing something else. I do this with the knowledge that this is how a lot of other people listen to music, so this is how they’ll hear it (and to be fair, I am as guilty of this as anyone). I also do it because sometimes there are moments in the album, songs or lyrics or beats and what have you, that stick out to me and kind of force me to pay attention, so I make note of them. Sometimes this strategy is an abject failure, I’ll admit, but most of the time it is sound.

Found Things forces you to pay attention. It controls your brain without you even knowing it. The sounds are made in a way to act as if you are no longer in control of your own body or thoughts. The beats and the sounds are done at such a precise and intellectually stimulating way that you’ll find yourself with a spatula drumming on your sink until your smoke alarms go off and your Hungry Jack pancakes with blueberries are essentially ruined.

The alarm clock-esque beat of “window and wall” were the first thing I noticed. We have conditioned ourselves to pay attention when our alarm clock goes off, so it immediately caught me, maybe even slightly unfavorably (We have also conditioned ourselves that our alarm clock is evil and can go straight to hell. Okay, I have conditioned myself to that). I recovered once the body of the song and the build to the final beats finally kicked in. It was an interesting opening salvo in an album full of them.

But the point to this album isn’t the openings necessarily. It is how they open and what they become. The build in each song is such that it always starts a little ambient and slight, and then finishes in a flurry. All the while that opening tends to stick in your head the most. I think “2+2” and “how am i supposed to follow that” are the best examples, but that is how each song on the album builds. Each song takes you on a journey through noise and beats, then lets you catch your breath before it starts over.

I will close by saying that an album like this very likely won’t be for everyone. I hope that people come in and experience the album at least once, or I guess, let the album experience you. Given the opportunity, there is a good chance it will take control of you very quickly.

Click the banner to stream the album free, then buy it from Forged Artifacts Website

Maximum Ames Fest 2012’s First Line Up Announcement Is Huge

So the other day I was driving in my car listening to “Two Headed Boy, Pt. 2” by Neutral Milk Hotel, as I am wont to do. I started thinking about the opportunities I have had to see Jeff Mangum perform and have missed due to a wide range of issues. I wondered if one day he would go back into his somewhat recluse lifestyle or if maybe he would be going out for a few more shows? Then I giggled to myself and said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if they got him for, I dunno, Max Ames or something? Boy, my head would just explode like a balloon if that happened!”



Yes, for this year’s edition of the Maximum Ames Fest, September 20 – 23, the fest has upped its status significantly and landed one of the most gifted and also rare live performers in the world. Jeff Mangum is the former lead of Neutral Milk Hotel, whose albums On Avery Island and the masterpiece In The Aeroplane Over the Sea have made best of the 90’s lists all over the world and is oft pointed to as an influence for the burgeoning indie rock scene. To land a man of his stature is a rare coup, especially considering how little he plays show at this point in his life (though to be fair, it is significantly more than it was five years ago). It would be incredible if this was the only act announced, but there are more. So many more.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson has also been announced as part of the fest. Now in her 70’s, Wanda Jackson is still one of the most recognizable voices in music. “The Queen of Rocakbilly” will be playing an intimate, show singing songs form her legendary career and off her new album, produced by Justin Townes Earle.

Also booked are fellow Elephant 6 artists The Music Tapes, New Orleans Jazz Ensemble The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, indie stalwart Mount Eerie as well as a bunch of Iowa’s best.

Here is the full list announced today:

Jeff Mangum
Wanda Jackson – “The Queen of Rockabilly” – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Mount Eerie
The Music Tapes
The Poison Control Center
The Daredevil Christopher Wright
Adam Faucett
Trouble Lights
Diamonds for Eyes
The Bootytronic Suite
Doctor Murdock
The River Monks
Peace, Love & Stuff
The Wheelers
Alex Kintzle and the Davis Brothers
Jaw Harp Potential

That’s some good stuff. All fest passes are $100 for four days of music. However, individual tickets will also be on sale soon. Head to Maximum Ames Website or click the pic to head to their Facebook page.

UPDATE: Tickets for just Saturday and Sunday are on sale for $60 as well as single show tickets for Jeff Mangum w/ Music Tapes and Poison Control Center and Wanda Jackson are on sale as well. RIGHT HERE

Iowa Opera House Project @ Blairsburg Opera House

Funny thing happened in the comments section of my 80/35 post (incidentally, thanks tons for all that read it and had good or bad to say). We had a little scuffle, nothing too awful, but it got a little, um contentious. Anyway, after the dust settled a bit, I was pointed in the direction of a really cool project called the Iowa Opera House Project. Essentially, it is a group of musicians who travel to small towns in Iowa and play in historic opera houses. These places are usually in the neighborhood of 100-150 years old, most still without a sound system or any sort of modern contrivances most musicians are used to at this point. The musicians who play these shows are all classic Americana, roots, folk country, etc. musicians who use their voices and instruments to their full advantage.

They have been touring these historic venues both as a cool spot to play, but also to bring awareness to these smaller towns and to help preserve these historic buildings. It is a great project, and even better some awesome musicians. But really, the selling point isn’t just the talented acts, it is also the opportunity to check them out in a unique setting in a likely unfamiliar town with the hope being maybe you go to a restaurant in that town, then maybe have a drink at a local bar afterwards. As a somewhat small town kid, let me just say that small town bars are the best.

The next event is Friday, July 13, at the Blairsburg Opera House in Blairsburg, Iowa (just east of Fort Dodge, conveniently located off I-35, so it isn’t that far). This promises to be a unique experience with some very talented artists. I am a particularly big fan of Thankful Dirt, a unique sounding, harmonious folk country act and Milk and Eggs, a sweet voiced and brilliant storyteller. While those are my personal favorites, all four acts are talented and unique. Come on, it’s not that far for a really cool gig.

Click the banner poster to get to their Facebook page or head here for more info.

Orchestrate Jazz Lunch Series at the Des Moines Social Club: Thursday, July 12 with Max Wellman

Got a little sidetracked this week and meant to put this up much sooner so, man, I hope you are reading this before noon on Thursday. The silky voiced Max Wellman as well as a talented backing band of Dave Rezek, Ron Roberts and Steve Charlson are playing a show Thursday July 12 at 12pm, yep, 12 noon. This is a hell of a show for those who love soulful crooners and smooth jazz. Oh, and it’s at noon, so spend your lunch hour escaping Nationwide or whatever and listen to some soothing music and enjoy a burrito. Oh, you get a Quatro Burrito, too. What an awesome show. Probably shouldn’t even go back to work after, or at the very least take a long lunch and maybe go for a walk or something. Treat yourself a little. You deserve it. $7 at Des Moines Social Club @ Kirkwood Hotel.

More info right here.

I Wanna Die With Sweat In My Eyes – 80/35 2012

Continue reading

80/35 Day 1 Recap

Damian Abraham of Fucked Up stands in the middle of the pit while sweaty kids smash into each other around him. This photo was taken safely behind the guardrail in the VIP section because I am old and scared.

– I got a press pass because I am a legitimate journalist. (heh)

– It was hot.

– Made it in time for Fucked Up.

– Damian Abraham sang in the crowd the majority of the time with a wired mic, just whipping and clotheslining people with it, mostly on accident.

– They played “Queen of Hearts” first because they wanted me to have a heart attack and die.

– He started a Yes! chant like Daniel F’ing Bryan.

– I stayed the fuck out of the circle pit because I am old and it was hot, but I really wanted him to hug me for some reason.

– Fucked Up was incredible.

– I sat in Proof to cool off and eat a chicken sandwich. It was awesome, but I missed Tajh.

– Made it back for Dinosaur Jr.

– They were loud.

– J. had some guitar issues, and he seemed grumpy, but Lou Barlow was awesome.

– They played for a long time and closed with a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”

– Dinosaur Jr. was incredible.

– I went on a wild goose chase to find my friend Moose serving beer, only to realize that he was pretty much right behind me the whole time.

– Missed most of Gibbs because of it, which sucked. Not the set, the fact that I missed most of it.

– Made it back for Avetts.

– The Avett Brothers were incredible.

– I cried during “I and Love and You”. Don’t judge me.

– Caught Little Ruckus at Mews afterwards, but left before Terror Pigeon because I am old and tired.

– Little Ruckus was incredible.

– I got medium to mostly drunk.

– Woke up with a headache.

Get Down Here Now

So, I feel as if I have done my part. Get downtown in time for Seedlings or Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos or Fucked Up. I wish I had more time to talk about this event. I still haven’t scratched the surface. I didn’t really talk about the jam bands, but if you like jam bands there are so many. I didn’t really talk about EDM, but all four are great, especially Solarz and Brad Goldman.

Also, I have been trying to write a review of the newest Maxilla Blue album, Volume 3, most of the day, and each review I have written has been shitty. So here is a shortened version, the album is awesome and you would be silly to miss them tomorrow at 4pm on the Kum & Go stage. So, yeah, shut off your computer, put your phone away and meet me at Fucked Up.

From The Vault – Bright Giant – King and Queens of Air

I’m still napping. Here is a review of Bright Giant’s album Kings and Queens of Air that I wrote a few months back. Bright Giant plays tonight at 7pm on the Kum & Go Stage.

Head here for the review. While you’re there maybe check the archives. I also wrote about Maxilla Blue and Mumford’s and Christopher the Conquered and a whole lot more.