Review – Goldblums – Heels


Goldblums were the first band I wanted to write about when I came back.

Their songs are grimy and gross garage punk.

They last about 90 seconds.

They’re rad as hell.

The album really captures them in their element: a chaotic, fuzzed-out alternate universe where time and space mean nothing.

Your feelings shift from the simple joy of the slight head bang to maybe even fear thanks to the paranoia inducing riff of “Juicer”.

I often find myself completely unclear on what is happening in the songs.

I think that sort of delirium and confusion is intended.

Also, they have a song about professional wrestler Art Barr. He was called The Juicer in WCW.

Art Barr is an interesting subject. You see Art Barr was one hell of a professional wrestler, but he was also convicted of sexual abuse prior to him really developing into a great wrestler. So, I guess the question is can you separate the art of the artist? Like Roman Polanski or R. Kelly or Chris Benoit. Can you forget the horrible things they’ve done and just appreciate the beautiful things they can do? Like, can you forget about what Polanski did and just enjoy Chinatown? I understand the concept of not wanting to support the person, but can you ignore great art just to punish a bad person? Or, is the badness of the person overriding their art? Is there a scale of level of bad thing to how good they have to be? Like, we can easily forgive Winona Ryder for her little shoplifting incident because Heathers was boss. But like do you have to have something as great as, I dunno, The Pianist to forget about Polanski raping a teenager? Is it easier to watch a Chris Benoit match knowing that his brain was legit broken when he committed those terrible atrocities or does it make it worse knowing that his art is what broke his brain? If Chris Brown were better at music, or even more apologetic about his actions, would we more be eager to ignore the fact that he’s a shitball? Also, does it matter that Barr has been dead for nearly a quarter century? Can we look back on his work with fondness as a respect for the dead or does his transgression haunt him even in the afterlife?

I have a hard time with it in that I wish I were more bothered by how much I enjoy “Ignition Remix” or Los Gringos Locos vs Ocatgon and El Hijo Del Santo, but I forget about the transgressions, no matter how little I want to support the person who did it. Hell, I even bought a Love Machine (Barr’s name in Mexico and yes there is something a little icky about a convicted sexual abuser being named Love Machine…) mask. It was a knockoff I bought from a different Mexican wrestler, so Barr didn’t actually receive any money from it. Turns out it was actually a Mil Mascaras mask, which sucks because I hate Mil Mascaras. He’s probably the worst legendary wrestler of all time. Although, he looks rad, all barrel-chested and colorful in his high-waist pants. Anyway, I’m digressing.

My point is, I think art can exist in a vacuum where you don’t really have to say “I like this person and their art is great.” I mean, there are a ton of people who hate Kanye’s music because he’s a weird dickhead, and he hasn’t even done anything near as horrifying as R. Kelly. I think to enjoy art, you just have to enjoy art. But also, maybe pirate their work or something so they don’t see any money from it.

Also, Barr’s dad was a famous promoter and wrestler, as was his older brother, so there is also the subject of nepotism and should someone who had access to he finest training and was easily able to network be held to a higher standard vis a vis the art they create. For instance, should the first thing we note about, say, Allison Williams is that she got her career because of who her dad is, or should we treat her work on the same level as someone who worked their ass off to be mediocre? But that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, the album is like 7 minutes long and it fucking rules.



Review: Lesbian Poetry – Self-Titled


My time as a shut-in has not been going well. I lost my job two months ago and I sort of assumed with all of my new free time I would be able to really dive headfirst into this whole writing thing. Maybe I could improve my editing skills a bit and really put some effort into what I was doing. What has happened is I dove headfirst into hitting refresh on my Facebook page for new posts to appear, 1980’s professional wrestling and trying to figure out why my one year old is crying.

All of of this laziness and lack of adult interaction has driven me a bit mad. I find myself increasingly angry towards things of little consequence. My most recent anger has been towards internet commenters being rude towards things I care about, and even things I don’t necessarily. Here is an example: Lazerfest recently announced that they are changing venues from the outdoor space in Boone to Wells Fargo Arena. With just 12 days to go, this has put some people in a bind. I understand that changing travel plans can be a nightmare, and people have the right to be upset. I just don’t understand what the point of going to the comments section of an article about their move and complaining accomplishes.

What angers me the most, however, is the people who comment with something along the lines of “I wasn’t going to this crap festival because the lineup sucks and if your (because they seemingly always use the wrong “you’re/your”) going your stupid and deserve to be screwed. lol (because they always put “lol” at the end).” I just don’t get what sense of pleasure people get by going onto a public forum and stating that you don’t like what other people like. That you’re somehow a better human because you don’t like Queens of the Stone Age. I mean, I don’t like Theory of a Deadman but other than a poor joke on my Facebook, I don’t go around blasting those who do, especially in an open, public forum where you’re obviously just looking to pick an internet fight.

The normal thing to do is make a wanking motion and move on with your day. For whatever reason, I can’t let this shit go. I often type up long-winded screeds in response to jerks, but I almost always delete them because I know they won’t change anyone’s mind. Then that bugs me because I feel helpless towards these people. Then the helplessness seeps deeper into me and it’s just, ugh.

What does any of this have to do with Lesbian Poetry? Nothing, I guess, except that it might be the perfect album to chase away the pain of petty foibles. There is just something about Lesbian Poetry that just makes insignificant things just that.

Some bands and artists are presented in a way that they overcome pettiness and bring sheer beauty to the proceedings with their arrangements and their presentation. The pure scope, much like the electric feeling of a thunderstorm or the rushing waves of the ocean, makes that which doesn’t matter slide.

That isn’t Lesbian Poetry. They attack the overwhelming feeling of everyday life in a different, maybe more substantial way. Gone are the trappings of production and in it’s place is honesty, simplicity and a different sort of ability. An ability to tell a story. An ability to let you get lost for a moment in the words of someone else and a clear understanding about what songwriting can be when stripped down to its most simple form.

Lesbian Poetry is a simple band with a simple sound, but they aren’t simple people. What I like most about them is that the overall vibe and confidence they exude. It isn’t about being the greatest performer or the greatest musician, it is about telling their stories in their way with little regards towards what the outside world might think.

What separates this album from others is that it isn’t just a simple DIY album made on very little money because that was the only resources. It is an album presented in a DIY, low budget way because that is the best way to present it. So, it is that confidence that rings through whether it is the wonderful “Trolleys and Limousines” or the spoken word/acapella coming out tale “Joe and I”. I think “Joe and I” might be the best track to show my theory. It is obviously the simplest track, being that it is presented with no musical accompaniment, but is told with such confidence that I was spellbound.

That’s what makes Lesbian Poetry, both the band and album, so intriguing. It is the confidence to be yourself, to present your art and to be one with your life. Comfortable in their own life, their own skin and their own art. So comfortable that it makes you wonder why you cared so much about petty things to begin with.

Review: Twins – Tomboys on Parade

Want to know a random thing that sucks about getting old? The oldies stations stop being oldies stations and start being “play shit from when I was a child”. Soon, it’s going to get into “play stuff from albums that I bought the day they came out”. It will be sad when it hits “play stuff from albums I actively avoided when I was in my twenties”.

But it isn’t just the constant reminder of the ever depressing march of time. I really liked when the oldies station was hits from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s because a lot of that is just perfect music. Quick songs, simple chords, and a ton to say, or at minimum something enjoyable to say. Nowadays, it is harder to find a station that’ll play Everly Brothers or Ricky Nelson or British Invasion bands except for The Who, Beatles and Stones (and even with those, you get a choice of about seven total songs, and one of them is “Who Are You”). A station where maybe Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” was the most recent song in their catalogue. I mean, I get that we live in an age where pretty much anything is available at our fingertips, but sometimes it’s nice to flip on the dial and let the radio do it’s business.

I talked a lot about this in my review of their previous album Funny Faces, but Twins really fills that niche perfectly. This album is a fine follow up to Faces. They manage to take that same aesthetic, and almost crank it up a notch. I don’t know if it’s because this is their first time on vinyl (at least I think it is) but they really channel their inner KIOA. Its a quick and sweet album. They’re romantics and they’re occasional jokesters, but in more of a finger-wagging, boys-will-be-boys way.

That may sound a bit like a dis, but believe me it isn’t. Being a throwback doesn’t mean you don’t have something new to say. There are tracks that use older production and presentation, but still manage to sound like a modern indie song. I guess it speaks to how much modern power pop really just pulls from the legends. Twins wears their influences like a badge of honor.

In keeping with the tradition of three minute pop-rock songs, I will just get to the point. This is just about as easy to listen to an album that I’ve ever heard. It is simple and beautiful and powerful and is perfect for everyone, both young and old.

Gloom Balloon, Mumford’s and Why Change Matters


I don’t like change. It makes me feel weird. It is part of why 2013 has been such a rough year for me. It is not just the bad things that have happened (and bad things have happened), it is that even the really good things have resulted in my life being completely different than what it was and that throws me in a tailspin, too. Its like I can’t handle change and I can’t accept the way things are. My brain is awesome.

Laziness is a big reason why I have kept much of my life stagnant for so long, but it is also just a desire for normalcy. It is that normalcy that let’s me know, even if things aren’t good, at least to know what to expect. That fear of the unknown, of somehow things getting worse, forced me to keep things into a gross and unacceptable normalcy; one that sucked the life completely out of me and made my life worse for my family. After much procrastination, I left the career I had simply accepted yet loathed and finally moved on to something different. It has been hard. I didn’t expect the learning curve to be so sharp. I think I have been more stressed with learning something new than I ever was by being in a miserable job that I knew I could do well, but, you know, hated.

Fear of change might also be why I fought having kids. Being responsible for two lives, making sure they’re fed and they’re clothed and bathed and kept warm, is instinctual and primal. It is also really fucking hard. Not just the physical and emotional drain loving these two beautiful idiots puts on you. I have to make big changes in my ways to make sure their lives are as easy as I can possibly make it. I have to put away all of the selfish stuff about myself aside and, dammit, I thrived on selfish stuff. I lived for it. I have a hard time turning that off. It is that acceptance that life is a different from what it in April, what it was in January, what it was in 2008, and what it was in 2003 that seems to elude me sometimes. These little people needing me more than I need myself is a lesson that I have to remember.

Also, we got a puppy and I hate her, I think. She won’t poop outside and is constantly trying to make out with my baby. She is currently scratching at my arm with her sharp claws and dropping her slobbery toy on my keyboard. She is super annoying.

It seems fitting with my year of change, of new lives, of new tasks and of untimely passings, that the last two albums I will likely review in 2013 are both steeped in introspection and a startling change in tone and in presentation from what we expect. Two Iowa artists either not afraid of change, or at minimum accepting that change and doing something with it.

Mumford’s and Patrick Tape Fleming of Gloom Balloon have a long history together. They share Ames roots, and they share a record label. What they also share is an understanding that doing the same thing over and over again can be rewarding, but eventually things change. You can do two things with that change: you can ignore it and try to keep doing the same things even if you want to do something else, or you don’t love those things, or that those things aren’t available to you anymore or you can make things better.

For Mumford’s that change is in presentation, in perception and in tone. Their most well-known songs have always had something to say hidden under the rapid fire lyrics and the quick guitar and horns. But their new album almost ditches the Mumford’s we all know and love. Instead of the quick beats and manic vocals, Mumford’s is a more reflective, mature and, well, not more interesting, but a different sort of interesting. Lead singer Nate Logsdon’s time as a solo artist, both under his own name and as the androgynous Beef Cake, has helped Mumford’s become this unflinching, sentient pop machine full of reflective prose and hum-able melodies.

Stylistically divided with soulful singalongs, outlaw-country tinged ballads and introspective, slightly rambling acapella stories, Immediate Family takes on many of this generations problems and how past generations can shape the solutions to the problems, and be the cause of them. “Caster” bravely and melodically shows an acceptance and celebration of transgender people in maybe one of the most endearing and just plain wonderful singles of the year. It could’ve turned into a song where they try to show just how progressive they are, but they don’t. It’s not pandering; it’s poetry. Another track, “Family Circle”, takes a close look at how your family can shape you and each generation of your family, fractured or no, bedded by a beautiful piano riff and a sneaky violin.

This is Mumford’s most incredible work to date. Mumford’s built its name on its sweaty live shows, so to make an album this deep and poignant had better work well, and luckily for them, it works in spades.


For Gloom Balloon, it took a near-complete breakdown to make something this deep. Patrick Tape Fleming is best known as singer, guitarist and complete ball of energy in the Poison Control Center. Exuding that much energy and emotion for the better part of decade can lead a man to continually seek that endorphin high that only performing can give. When PCC decided to take a break, Tape Fleming lost that outlet and slipped into a depression. His suicidal thoughts, unhealthy malaise and loss of his hero (Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss) caused him to re-examine his artistic output. This lead to Gloom Balloon, a very different project than PCC, and yet still rooted in what makes that band work.

Raw and emotional, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster/Fix The Sunshine Pts. 1-7 (An Ode To Bill Doss) doesn’t entirely leave the PCC aesthetic behind. Most of the tracks fit into that less-than-or-equal-to 3 minute pop ditty. The presentation is so much different than the four piece, guitar-heavy PCC we all know and love. Gone are the pop rock guitars and sometimes shouty vocals. In its place are electronics and samples and saxophones and violins and a severe downturn in tempo. “Fix The Sunshine” has that same sort of PCC vibe, but the vocals and presentation changes the vibe entirely.

Take, for example, PCC’s well known oft-concert ender “Magic Circle Symphony”. The chorus is “Love. Love is the answer. Until you get cancer. Then you’re lying, dying, dead.” Somehow the music makes that repeated affirmation somewhat joyous and acceptable. Similarly, “Fix The Sunshine” has a chorus that goes “All the children in the world are one day gonna die and so will you and I” and it still feels okay, and yet I was much more reminded of mortality rather than joy. Where “Magic Circle” gives you optimism “Sunshine” seems to slap you with reality.

This has to do with the presentation of the album as a whole. Each track is deliberate and somewhat manipulative. If you pay close attention to the lyrics, you could feel one thing. If you pay attention to the instrumentals, you could feel another. Yet,you somehow understand both the instrumentals and the lyrics better because of their intricacies and occasional dichotomies. You get the joy and sadness of both mixed beautifully.

What both of these albums succeed with is an understanding that life is change. Life is maturing, growing up, letting friends move away, letting family pass on. And if you can accept that change, your life will be better for it. You will likely not be the same person you were, but you will, surely, be so much more.

I can see that change paying off. I can see it for Mumford’s, I can see it for Patrick Tape Fleming and I can see it for myself. Now rounding out of the steep learning curve, I question why I waited so long to make a change. I am still learning, improving, getting better, but I enjoy waking up in the morning more. I enjoy going to work and doing what I do. Gone, for the most part, is that anxiety of where my life is heading and how it will end. Parenting will always be a challenge, but I understand, now, that I can no longer just give a shit only about my hobbies, my activities and my social desires. Those two come first and I come after.

Hell, even the puppy is now resting comfortably at my feet instead of tongue kissing a baby or jumping on my head. Change is hard, change is scary but change is sometimes what is needed to truly succeed.

Dave Cleans Out His Inbox Vol. 1 feat: Annalibera, The Wheelers, Little Ruckus, and New Member Charles

I started this blog a year and change ago with the idea that I would talk about the world of music, and some Iowa stuff. I kind of segued that into Iowa stuff, mainly because very few people gave a damn what I thought about things outside of Iowa. It has since segued further into a music themed blog where I vent my own neuroses. I kind of like what I have written here lately, but I have seemingly left behind a lot of what I set out to do with this blog originally. I guess this is a long winded way of saying I have been a little up my own ass for this last year and less up Iowa music’s ass.

I have been trying to keep up with my Des Moines Is Not Boring stuff, but I try not to cover the same band twice with that column. Since I have fallen behind on some stuff I wanted to review, and it would break a rule that I have done fairly well of keeping (Parlours and Maxilla are the only two featured bands I have done twice and Maxilla was as BumRap, so I think that counts as two different bands. So, just Parlours). Here, in one big blast, I will attempt to clean up some stuff I have missed. Plus, I have been slightly under the weather today, so this seems like a perfect lay on the couch activity.

Annalibera – EP

Annalibera has been a bit of a startling revelation on the Iowa scene in 2013. Beautiful voices, heavenly instrumentals and a ghostly vibe, Annalibera has gotten a lot of push from a lot of people for an important reason: they’re very good.

On their three song EP, Annalibera gives us a taste of what the band has to offer, and a glimpse of what could be in the future. From the live shows I have attended, they seem to have picked the three songs that stuck with me the most. “Clouds” is a beautiful duet with Ryan Stier of River Monks fame and lead singer Anna Gebhart that has hints of post-punk and new wave. I, however, think the next two tracks are going to have a serious fistfight for my favorite track of the year.

I am a crier. I cry. It happens. I am not ashamed of my visceral reactions to things. I was engrossed in “Vermillion” the first time I heard it live, and recorded, it loses nothing. I could actually feel myself choke up a bit from the beauty. Gebhart’s voice is perfect, the instrumentals are perfect. Its beautiful.

Somehow, despite “Vermillion” just wrecking me, “Battle World” might be a better song. It is slightly less subtle but the guitar work is stronger. It feels like “Battle World” is the single, and “Vermillion” is the song the deeper fans like. Like when you go to an, I dunno, Green Day concert and people pop for “Longview” but a small group of people lose their heads for “Going to Pasalacqua”. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but you’ll have to excuse me, I don’t feel well and I’ve been crying.

The Wheelers – The Wheelers

The first time I reviewed The Wheelers, I said that they were a lot more contemporary band than the 90’s bands they pointed towards as their influences. On their first full-length album, The Wheelers decided to prove me wrong by doing their best Nirvana impression. I should put best in bold…hang on… their BEST Nirvana impression. This album is truly an incredible throwback to those who listened to Nevermind and decided their favorite tracks were “Lounge Act” and “Territorial Pissings”. It is dirty and filthy and grimy and beautiful all at once. There is no wasted notes or vocal chords left unstrained. Just an incredible amount of passion and noise that I couldn’t help but listen to it three or four times in a row.

Little Ruckus – American Confetti

I have been a rather vocal supporter of Little Ruckus, and with good reason. He is chaos and control all at once. He is charming and optimistic and hard to hate, and uses his powers for good, I think. His first two albums are amongst my favorites. What I like best about those two is they seem like part one and part two of a story. Part one, We Love Evil, seems to introduce you to a guy you think is a little bit of a troublemaker, but who also wears his heart on his sleeve. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks you find yourself becoming enamored with. Part two, Tank Girl vs. Cape Girl, makes you realize you’re dealing with a someone special and someone who believes in himself and in you. So while his heart is on his sleeve, he does so because he really wants to be your friend.

American Confetti is part three. It is the celebration Little Ruckus throws you now that you’re friends. It is loud and quick and sample heavy (Dire Straits, X-Files, Britney Spears and so many more). It sneaks in the Star-Spangled Banner in the middle. It is a lot more instrumental than the prior two. Standalone, I didn’t like this album as much as the other two, but as part of an ever evolving story with Little Ruckus, it is an important and necessary step. If all he talks about is sweating and dancing, then when it comes time to sweat and dance it better be a chaotic mess of dance and sweat and this is that dance party. The usual Little Rucks stuff is in there, as is his ever present Sandwich Eating Crew, but this is certainly another step in the narrative. It makes me wonder what’s next and if maybe I am writing this story myself, or if that’s what is intended.

New Member Charles – Spooky Batches

So, I know I haven’t really spoke of New Member Charles before, but I figured four seems like a good number for Volume 1 of what may be a multiple volume series (or may just be a one volume series; I’m tricky like that). New Member Charles is fun alt-pop-rock. But it is a different type of fun than say Poison Control Center. While PCC and NMC share some similar sounds, NMC seems to be a little more mischievous. Like, where PCC sings songs about love, NMC might sing songs about blowing up mailboxes (I don’t know if they have a song about blowing up mailboxes, but it seems like they could). For instance, “Boner Party” sounds a lot like PCC, however I don’t feel like they would have a running lyric of “Fuck! Shit!”, or would they call a song “Boner Party”. They might have a song like “Rubens Paul”, but even with that one NMC brings their own panache. Like a refrain of just shouting “Cat murder!” (at least I think that’s what they’re yelling. Man, I hope that’s what they’re yelling) So yeah, it’s pretty stupid and adolescent.

But you know what? Spooky Batches holds its own. It isn’t a gimmick, it’s just silly and fun and a good way to remind yourself that art doesn’t always have to be super-serious. Like, I don’t think a NMC song is ever going to make me cry, but I’m sure it will make me laugh. Hell, “Boner Party’s” line of “Fuck! Shit! Let’s get a pizza!” get’s me every time. And that’s great that an album can make you feel okay with juvenile thoughts while also bringing excellent instrumentals and fun.

Gross Domestic Product 2013 Announced, A Review of Now That’s What I Call Music 45, and More


The normal Muzak at my work is one of the most surprisingly progressive radio stations in town. You’d think that a big box retail store wouldn’t play songs by the likes of Cut Copy, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, Handsome Furs, Billy Bragg and Wilco, XX, Miike Snow or Ra Ra Riot, but everyday I hear that and more. Unfortunately, our Muzak crashed and we had to go with a back up plan. We bought Now That’s What I Call Music 45 (full disclosure, we also bought the 2013 Grammy Winners CD and Now 44. We also had an unfortunate stint with Now 11. Oh and I made a couple of mixes (with some Iowa artists even!), but they were nixed because my co-workers are haters. Well, one co-worker. Well, he thought Black Lips’ “Family Tree” was too loud. He was probably right.)

Here comes a shocking revelation. I am a music blogger who doesn’t listen to Top 40 much anymore. Or like, at all. I know that there is a thing called One Direction that exists, and one of them is named Harry and he got hit in the groin at a concert recently, but I had never listened to a single song. It isn’t personal; I just have precious little free time, so I don’t go out of my way to seek out stuff I probably won’t like. However, being exposed to Now 45 for four to five hours a day for roughly six days exposed me to some stuff I wouldn’t know otherwise. On that note here is one sentence about each song. Scroll down to the next bullet point if you don’t care and just want to read some stuff about Iowa.

One Direction – “Live While We’re Young” – I have a soft spot for boy bands ever since Donnie Wahlberg told me I had cool hair back in the late 80’s, so I kind of liked this song more than I imagine most non-12 year old girls would.

Flo Rida – “Cry” – The hook annoyed me, but this wasn’t terrible.

Ke$ha – “Die Young” – Ke$ha has this trait where I can’t stand her verses, but I always really like the choruses and this was no exception.

Ne-Yo – “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself) – There are so many songs that sound exactly like this song.

Pitbull – “Don’t Stop the Party” – Still wish Daddy Yankee was the breakout Reggaeton superstar, but Pitbull is kind of an endearing dude who got shipped to Alaska and went with a smile and holds concerts where he just pumps his fist with a Bud Light in his hand…


and I couldn’t help but like this one.

Calvin Harris and Florence Welch – “Sweet Nothing” – Love.

The Script feat. Will.I.Am- “Hall of Fame” – Didn’t love.

Maroon 5 – “Daylight” – This wasn’t as good as “Harder to Breathe” or “She Will Be Loved” but better than “Moves Like Jagger”.

Phillip Phillips – “Home” – This is in a bunch of commercials.

Ed Sheeran – “The A Team” – I think it was about a hooker and I could see why someone would like this, but I didn’t really.

Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Getting Back Together” – So catchy I eventually got Stockholm Syndrome and threatened anyone who tried to speak ill of it.

Kelly Clarkson – “Catch My Breath” – I still like Kelly, but this one was a bit forgettable.

P!nk (Does she still spell her name with an exclamation point? Did she ever? Did I dream that? Ke$ha spells her name with a dollar sign, still, right? Can I spell my name D@ve? No? Okay.) – “Try” – Hey, she’s coming to town on Nov. 8 and this song was a pretty okay little pop ballad.

OneRepublic – “Feel Again” – This is in a bunch of commercials, too, I think.

Imagine Dragons – “It’s Time” – I was familiar with this one because they played Gas Lamp just before they blew up, and I was pretty meh about it then and still am.

Florida Georgia Line – “Cruise” – Every time this guy goes “and sing from the heart”, the Earth moved a little closer to the sun and I could feel our imminent demise as a species.

There were a few bonus tracks, but I think this pretty well covered my experience with the Now records. Wasn’t a horrifying experience, but I do hope the regular Muzak works when I go back on Thursday.

2013 Gross Domestic Product was announced and it is a doozy. Spread across four 4th street venues on April 13, this year’s event features 19 acts and is headlined by the highly influential House of Large Sizes. This is a very rare opportunity to see one of Iowa’s legendary acts and so many others. Click the link for full info.

– I wrote a couple of pieces for Des Moines is Not Boring one about Cedar Falls post punk/pop band Twins and one about Iowa City singer/songwriter Brooks Strause

Lazerfest 2013 added Killswitch Engage and Bush to a lineup with Alice in Chains and more on May 10 in Boone. That may get me to go.

-Speaking of summer festivals, a new one called Rocket Suzie will be held in Spencer on June 8. It features a lot of really cool folk, acoustic, rock and alt country acts headlined by another influential and legendary Iowan Greg Brown and Texas band The Trishas. That is neat.

-Earlier this year I had a post mentioning a new album from Gadema and Aeon Grey. Well Aeon Grey’s album Lead Breakfast is out today and is available on Uncommon Records. Oh, and Gadema decided to drop ANOTHER album, this time with Purify called Hard to Hate and you can check that out here.

-I am going to check out Darwin Deez tonight at Vaudeville Mews, I think. But there are a ton of other cool shows in the next day or two. A favorite of mine, Fetal Pig, is playing the late show at Mews with Universe Contest and more. Also, one of my favorite country acts Ryan Bingham is playing a show at Wooly’s.

-Tomorrow Vaudeville Mews has an early show of Fol Chen, a late show with Jaill, Wooly’s has G Love and Special Sauce, and House of Bricks has Red Lamb, Dark Mirror and more. So, there is a lot going on. Try to hit at least one.

Review: Rosefield Rivals – Rosefield Rivals


The other day I got bored and started perusing Bandcamp, and I noticed they had tags for specific locations, cities, states, etc. So you can just click on Des Moines, and everything tagged Des Moines pops up ( See, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Also, this should keep you busy for a while). For some reason, it never occurred to me that the site had that option even though it is really easy to do that. I guess I don’t fuck around with tags, so why would anyone else, right? Well, as I was thumbing through the pages, I saw this album and figured I’d better give it a listen.

Rosefield Rivals is a name that I have heard for a long time. Yet, I had never really gotten a chance to listen to them because by the mid 2000’s they had all moved on to other things. So, with a digital chance to rectify a mistake, I’d better give it a chance.

It certainly feels like an album that came out in the early/mid 2000’s. It is power/punk/pop with a nod to a lot of bands that were popular at that time. While it reminds me of that particular time in our lives where Sum-41, My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 were dominating TRL, it doesn’t feel like a relic. Some of the genre’s peers tend to feel dated and eye-rolling, Rivals never really hit that point with me.

I think the key is the guitar work. Rivals hits hard very, very often. The guitar riffs are more akin to a pop metal act than a pop punk especially in “The Romance”. Musically, they are probably closer to Bad Religion than Simple Plan or Yellowcard. There is some real talent mixed up in the six songs and it shines quite often.

I think a lot of people (myself included) are willing to overlook stuff we feel is more indicative of the times. While going back to re-listen to things we once liked, often we get sucked up in the whole “ironic nostalgia” portion where no one wants to admit that they actually liked something. Instead, joking like an I Love The 90’s panelist and then making a dismissive wanking motion. Or some simply just won’t admit they liked something because it used to be popular, and now it isn’t as much. Call it the Hootie and the Blowfish problem, where they sold like ten million records, but no one will admit to buying one or ever liking them, which is silly. We all liked Hootie and the Blowfish, we should just admit it.

Now that we are far enough removed from the pop-punk mainstream scene, there is starting to be that same backlash. Poor Fall Out Boy and Sum 41 are almost more a punchline than they are a best-selling pop band at this point. The amount of albums they sold would suggest that at some point, somebody liked them. But if you really go back and look at the pop-punk genre, there are still some gems mixed in. Blink-182 had two albums I thought were legitimately great (Dude Ranch and Enema of the State). So did My Chemical Romance (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and Black Parade). AFI’s Sing the Sorrow is still incredible. I will defend it to the death. And of course, Say Anything’s In Defense of the Genre still holds up really well. With clear eyes, a lot of this stuff gets overlooked and lumped into a time capsule and not revered as just really good albums.

While it is an album that is reflective of the times, it doesn’t ever feel dated, and I think that is a testament to the musicians and the talent involved. This one will probably be lumped into that time capsule for a lot of people, but I liked it. I’m not sure if this particular outfit would’ve had an audience as large in 2012, so it is probably good that they are all trying new things. But they should all be proud of what they accomplished. If you want to give it a listen,

Review: Emma Wilson – As We Go

I got in trouble at work today and for a good reason. It’s not like I was framed or something. I was an ass, and needed someone to tell me I was an ass. The reality of the situation is much smoother than how I reacted mentally. A normal person would’ve probably just nodded and moved on with their life. I, however, got super sad and sulked over at Zombie Burger and made my server very uncomfortable. That was not the appropriate response. I should not make service industry workers feel awkward because I am sulking over beer. The appropriate response would’ve been to accept what I had been told and then change my behavior, which I probably totally will.

Here’s what happened. I have been late pretty much every day for the last month. I was asked very politely by my boss to not do that anymore. He at no point made me feel bad about my malfeasance, and provided context as to why my actions were harming the company and other employees. It was a mature and honest statement made towards an employee who was behaving poorly. For some reason, it really upset me. I have always behaved a little like a dog who peed on the carpet whenever I do wrong and get caught. I remember a specific incident in fifth grade where we all stole Skittles from our teacher’s jar, and I got detention and I cried in class. I totally stole the Skittles, and I deserved to be punished, but I still cried. That outburst followed me for a while as I was relentlessly picked on, (but not cleverly as most people just called me crybaby, which isn’t witty at all. You’d think that those jerk fifth graders would’ve been smarter. That’s the thing about bullies, they’re never witty. Just dicks. That’s the biggest issue I have with bullying is it is never a really biting, except when they actually bite, I guess. But I digress). So yeah, when I screw up and get a talking to, I kind of turtle. Even though I knew I had been doing something stupid, and was calmly and maturely spoken to about it, I still felt upset by it.

There are lots of reasons why I behave this way, I’m sure. A weird desire to be known as a “good boy” so I will be loved? Eh, who knows? I’m sure there is a deep seeded and underlying reason, but I don’t have time for that. Let’s instead just focus on the issue at hand and maybe I can stay out of trouble.

So, I’m not sure why I am late everyday, I guess. But, I have a few theories:

1) Winter has fucked up my routine.

I work very early most of the time and I don’t sleep very well, so I try to get as much sleep as possible. I usually wake up about thirty minutes before I am supposed to be at work, even though it takes me thirteen minutes to drive there. I have my morning routine down to a science: a hurricane blitz of a shower where I somehow manage to shave, shampoo, condition and soap in roughly eight minutes, it would be four minutes if I didn’t sit down on the floor of the tub in a daze with water pelting me in the face (again, I wake up very early). Next come contacts, tooth brushing and deodorant, sometimes all done at once if it takes me longer than eight minutes in the shower. Then I get dressed and I race out the door. However, it has been cold lately so I have to factor in the extra five or so minutes of letting my car warm up and thaw. Thus, my tardiness. This is a simple problem with a simple solution. I should just wake up earlier. I know this. Yet, I choose to ignore it. And thus, here we are. Being late and getting scolded.

2) I am acting out in a very childish attempt to get attention.

A few months back I had a chance at a promotion and was passed up. This sucked. I’m not really angry for my personal glory so much as I am looking for more money because at this point in my life money is the only reason I still do this job. I used to have a bunch of friends and pride. Now, I have one friend and no pride. I have accepted now that I am destined for a slight cost of living increase each year and nothing more. No matter what I do, I will receive a very modest raise. I work my ass off? Modest raise. I do an acceptable and perhaps, boring job? Modest raise. I go into a closet and take a nap for an hour or so each day? Modest raise. This is dumb. Maybe I am just testing my limits and seeing how far I can get. Or maybe, I am saying, “Oh yeah? You think I suck at this? You haven’t seen anything yet.” This is a dumb way to behave, so I hope this isn’t it.

3) Much like my toddler, I am just seeing how much I can get away with.

It is always good to know your boundaries. I just went past mine and got called out because of it.

4) I am lazy and sleep too late and am kind of an asshole, but I don’t want people to know I’m an asshole, so I get upset when people catch on that I’m an asshole.

This is a probable cause, but much less abstract than I like. I want to get into the whys. Why do I sleep so late? Why am I lazy? Why do I not like stuff? Why am I an asshole? Boredom>? Yeah, it’s boredom.

So, to get my mind off my weird sadness, I decided to go through my backlog and randomly take a stab at an album. I actually like writing and don’t really do it to please anyone but myself, so this is an easy cure, most of the time. It may not seem like it due to my sporadic nature, but it brightens my day just scribbling down my thoughts or whatever about whatever. I also had really good luck because the album I randomly picked is just adorable.

Emma Wilson is a singer and songwriter. This is about all I know about her. Some slight internet stalking tells me she lives in Des Moines and knows some people I know. She plays the ukulele and sings in an adorable accent that seems slightly British at times and simply childlike at others. Her voice is whimsical and sweet. So sweet that I may have type-2 diabetes just from listening to this a few times. I’m not sure if she’s from Des Moines, or if I am just mis-hearing the accent, but the way she sings is unique and pretty.

This album is really cute. That makes it sound derogatory, but cute things are awesome. This is sort of the recorded version of that sneezing panda video. Even when she says “fuck”, it is enunciated in a way that kind of makes me giggle, even though in this context it is used as a verb and that usually makes me a little uncomfortable. But this isn’t just fluff for the sake of fluff. There are some very personal, yet relatable, stories told over a singular and somewhat unique instrument.

What I also like about this album is that most of the songs aren’t done in a traditional pop song verse-chorus-verse style. They kind of just tell their story and then move on. There are verses and chorus, but the structures are generally a little more loose. Tracks like “Little Loves” and “This Town” are somewhat universally understood odes, while “Stuck Right There” comes across much more specific and personal. Oh, and there is a track about tofu and the five-second rule. I think most people would have some familiarity with that.

I think there is going to be a certain portion of the population that will hate this. They will think it is just too damned cuddly. Pessimists and people who hate Zooey Deschanel probably wouldn’t like As We Go but I liked it. It is a pleasant diversion and easy to listen to. It is a hot fudge sundae in an upside down baseball helmet. Cute, sweet and easily digestible.

Album Review: Diamonds For Eyes – Catacomb Fires

Click the pic to purchase the album, please.

Last year, Des Moines band Diamonds For Eyes released a little under the radar album called The Era of Our Ways that I really liked (I reviewed it here). What I liked best about that album is the way it would seamlessly introduce a different genre almost on a track by track basis. The musical schizophrenia was almost a plus that made the album more interesting than what a normal dirty pop-rock album would normally sound like.

On their newest album, Catacomb Fires, Diamonds For Eyes loses a bit of the schizophrenia, but what they lack in genre jumping, they make up for in a focused, well made and oddly fun album to listen to. And while I don’t like it in the same way I liked Era, I do like it very much. It is a little more of a early classic rock album, on occasion even classic country. The focused sound helps with the whiplash effect and kind of soothes the listen a bit more than their previous. However, the vocals, which I think make for the most interesting part of both albums, haven’t changed much.

Lead Singer Josh Putney has a very Tom Morello is The Nightwatchman voice; baritone, deep and gruff. Sometimes, it can seem mean and unwelcoming. Almost with a sense of doom. Even when the track doesn’t need to be foreboding or threatening. Sometimes, it comes across a bit somber, almost like an 80’s goth crooner. A good kind of depressing. What his voice never is, though is boring. Even on a track like “Honesty”, which sounds a little bit like an 80’s rock anthem like Toto or The Cars, his voice is haunting where it could be jaunty. It is an interesting choice and adds for a cool uniqueness.

The big addition to this album is the guitar work of Conrad Bascom. Formerly of The Chatty Cathys, Bascom adds a lead guitar that really shows the new focus of the band and what they can do and helps punctuate their sound.

I liked this album, but I also really like their last one. I may have to listen to both a few more times to really decide which one I liked more, but a more focused Diamonds For Eyes definitely created a gem.

Album Review: Trouble Lights – The Endless Prom

I want to show y’all something, if I may:

Lollapalooza 2007

Click that. Then click the lineup. Then scroll down to the bottom. See way down there, past Iggy and The Stooges and Pearl Jam and Cold War Kids. Even past Chin Up Chin Up and past Ludo (Whoa, I liked Ludo! I wonder what they’re up to). On one of the bottom rows way past all the name bands and the popular DJs and such, there is an awfully familiar name. No, not Cage the Elephant. Before them.

Lady Gaga.

In 2007, Lady Gaga was just a talented woman performing clubs in New York and not an international pop sensation with a somewhat unique persona and insane live performances. She performed on the BMI stage, which, for those unfamiliar with the Grant Park festival’s setup, is a tiny ass stage stuck in some trees with Lake Shore Drive as a backdrop. It is usually where they stick lesser known acts and up and comers. Three years later, she came back to Lollapalooza and headlined the damned thing.

It seems weird to think that someone like Lady Gaga wasn’t always filling up stadiums and arenas and such. There are times when she seems like a pre-fab pop star that just happened to catch the right break, when the reality is she worked her way up the circuit like a lot of performers and is actually really damn good. She just had (and has) something about her that caught people’s eye and has propelled past being the weird lady who sings “Poker Face”. And now, she’s Mother Monster and a global phenomenon. Big enough to fill arenas and stadiums and headline festivals and even be protested against wherever she goes.

Listening to The Endless Prom, it isn’t just an astonishing pop album (though it is an astonishing pop album), it feels like being on the ground floor to greatness. It feels like the beginning of some sort of cultural phenomenon. It feels like a case where in three years, a lot of us are going to look back and go, I saw them perform at Mews or The Space for Ames or in an old classroom re-commissioned into an art show or whatever venue that seems entirely too small for a group this talented. In a world overrun by the pre-fab irony of Rebecca Black or the one hit wonder catchiness of “Call Me, Maybe” and “Gangnam Style” (and c’mon that shit is catchy as fuck), this album has catchy and danceable beats galore. The tracks “Hunting”, “Safe With Me” and “Ready” (see the video above) all have an undeniable beat that seems to burrow into your head and get stuck there. Even a guy like me, who isn’t all that far removed from the John Lithgow character in Footloose, can’t help but tap my foot and, if I’ve had a couple of drinks, actually maybe even sway side to side and do a little shoegaze head bop. Sometimes, I even do little uppercuts. It is exhilarating. But it is a testament to what the music makes me do more than it is an overriding need to dance.

What this album doesn’t suffer from is pre-fabrication or phoniness. It isn’t gimmicky or studio butchered. It feels real and it feels important. For as much as I actually like Carly Rae Jepsen (I do! Seriously!), she seems less a burgeoning pop goddess and more an answer to a trivia question in fifteen years. This album feels real and feels different. I know it is tough to actually quantify that, but the difference between friendly, single serving, throw away pop sensations and Trouble Lights is startling. Even with all of its amazing beats and danceable mixes and hypnotic vocals, sometimes all I can see is dollar signs. While this is one of my favorite albums this year to listen to, it is truly a rare breed where I somehow stare beyond the artistic merit of the album and just say, “Yeah, this is going to be huge,” and start to wonder about the impact on the industry as a whole. I thought it from the first time I heard them back in the spring, I’ve thought it with each live show I’ve seen and I thought it as I listened to the finished product. Each step they take, they seem to re-affirm that thought. Sometimes you just know when something is special. It is a feeling rather than a precise breakdown of the notes and beats and lyrics. And this, this is special.