Gross Deomestic Product Song of the Day-ish – The River Monks – Yellow Blue & Green

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, 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 may seem to some like a weird transition. Yesterday, I put up the blistering Father in the Sky by Mumford’s and today we move on The River Monks. The only way I would describe The River Monks as blistering is if you forget your sunblock when you lay in the sun and listen to this album. I would recommend doing that if you decide to listen to Jovials. It is so relaxing and smooth that I’d imagine a perfect day would be a chaise lounge, a good pair of sunglasses, about 74 degrees and slight breeze and nothing in the world to care about (wear sunblock, though).

Like I said about Bowerbirds a few days ago, this song is a perfect example of the type of background music you have when you’re doing something important. Even if it isn’t that important, it gives the feeling that you’re succeeding at a higher level, when in fact the music is just so suitably epic. I mean, I am currently listening to it while I lay on the couch with a laptop on my crotch while wearing pajama pants, so I ain’t exactly climbing Mt. Rainier. But somehow, it makes me feel like I am writing some sort of life changing document that the world will lap up and I will ge a Pulitzer and a job at Spin Magazine

I really like this song, and while I like the rest of the album, it was a big reason why this album gets such high marks for me. I am interested to see how they handle it live, since the above video isn’t the best representations of what the song can do feelings-wise.

The rest of the album can be listened to or purchased here

Toki Wright – Tonight at Vaudeville Mews

I still know people who don’t listen to hip-hop. It kind of drives me insane that someone would ignore a genre so full of amazingly talented and thought provoking artists just because it doesn’t feature loud guitars or a twangy accent. Or even worse they do listen to hip hop, but just the trash that is pushed down our throats by the corporate entities who want to tell us what we like. I feel like I am screaming to myself when I hear actual honest to God critics that I respect and like tell me how good Drake, Minaj and Lil Wayne are. With hip-hop, it is the one genre where I know specifically what I want to listen to and what I want to hear. I feel like, I’ve talked about this a lot whenever I speak of rap, but I dunno, I kind of feel like I should repeat it for some reason.

It isn’t just about flow or swagger (though that helps, obviously), it is about thoughts. Hip-hop unfortunately, can be a very selfish genre of music. Lots of people who want the fame and the attention and the money, and since that’s all they desire, that’s all they bother to talk about. Quite frankly, I don’t care how many cars you own or how many people you roll into a club with, and that kind of goes for everyone, not just emcees. But I sort of feel like the hip-hop I listen to almost has to be truly personal and social conscious because so much of it is materialistic and immature.

Huh, it’s funny. The more I analyze my statements, the more I realize that maybe hip-hop is an artistic genre just like any other. Be smart. Be conscience. Do things unlike everyone else. Makes sense to me.

That is why I love Rhymesayers Entertainment out of Minneapolis. It is probably the most identifiable record label when it comes to fairly underground, but also intelligent, caring and thought provoking artists in the world. Home to such luminaries as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, POS, Grieves and Budo, I Self Devine, MF DOOM and DJ Abilities, Rhymesayers seems to put out more talent of just about any record label, regardless of genre.

One more name to add to that list is Toki Wright. Maybe best known as Brother Ali’s hypeman, he is also a very accomplished emcee in his own right, and listening to his track “Next Big Thing”, you can tell he has the tools and desire to be so much more than just a hypeman. Beyond his talent, it is his story that I find most interesting. Raised in a Buddhist house, which seems very unique to me as far as emcees go, Wright has used his experiences to truly benefit others. He is one of Minneapolis’s most active community activists and recognized faces, not just for his music but for who he is as a person. His thoughts and knowledge truly go beyond the get money nature of a lot of hip-hop.

This show also features Des Moines’s most gifted hip hop outfit, Maxilla Blue. Their new album was just released a couple of weeks ago, so do yourselves a favor and grab a copy of that. Tonight at Vaudeville Mews. 530pm and all ages. More info here.

The Heligoats Are Tonight!

This is a friendly reminder that you need to go to Vaudeville Mews tonight. Scroll down for my preview, or click here.

More info.

Gross Domestic Product Song of the Day-ish – Mumford’s – “Father In The Sky”

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, 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

Want to know how awesome Iowa is? Mumford’s is one of my favorite live bands possibly ever. The passion and energy they posses is completely unique to almost anyone else. Watch that video, there is like four people in what appears to be a tiny attic. Yet somehow, they didn’t turn it off. They still performed like they were slaying a room of 10,000.

I also really like this song. From the album Triple Trinities, which I had pretty high on my list of albums of the year in 2011 (that’s here in case you missed it. I would make a couple of changes to it at this point, but eh, it’s close enough). But live, it brings a whole new level of excitement. Its a gret shouty singalong and one of the most crowd pleasing three minutes or so you’ll ever see.

What I also like about it is how punk rock the song feels. But it isn’t ska despite the dueling trumpets. They wrote a seemingly punk song, sang it in a bit of a punk style, added horns. And yet somehow it doesn’t devolve into ska. Its kind of awesome from a pure music standpoint. The guitar stays in what I assume is more of a deeper tone and the notes on the trumpet stay away from the reggae infusion, which is a nice surprise.

So back to Iowa. Mumford’s is awesome. Yet, somehow, they aren’t even my favorite live band at this year’s Gross Domestic Product. To probably quote Mumford’s lead singer Nate Logsdon, Iowa is pretty rad.

Road Trip Monday – Middle of the Map Festival – Kansas City

Each Monday I’m going to try and highlight something within driving distance that maybe you didn’t know about. While Iowa is awesome, sometimes being away from Iowa is awesome, too. Also, there has to be some sort of clever title I can use for this. Maybe “Matriculating Monday?” No, that’s stupid. Road Trip Monday it is, unless I think of something better next week.

This article is subtitled “An Excuse To Use Fucked Up Lyrics That Use My Given Name In An Article.”

Hello, my name is David. (Nailed it!)

On April 5 – 7 Kansas City hosts a multi-venue, multi-genre festival called Middle of the Map Fest. While Iowa is surely no stranger to festivals of this type, Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival is the weekend before this and the fall’s Maximum Ames Festival debuted last year to lots of success, this one is totally worth travelling to. For two very specific reasons:

1. It is only $35 for all three days, which is just an unfathomable steal for three days worth of music.

2. Fucked Up.


Now I guess that’s unfair to the rest of the lineup, as it is really strong. But, man do I just adore Fucked Up. Even if I feel like I’ve kind of outgrown the angry hardcore phase of my life, there is just something so endearing about Damon Abraham and his chubby, fuzzy, Canadian genius.

Seriously though, click on the link and check out the full lineup as it is just incredible. For those too lazy to hit the link, here are some of my highlights:

Mission of Burma

Fun. (Dig the now ubiquitous “We are Young”, but kind of didn’t care for the rest of the most recent album. Someone feel free to convince me otherwise, though. I’m easily swayed.)

Neon Indian

Murder By Death (Also coming to Des Moines next month, but don’t let that sway you. Go to both.)

Unicycle Loves You (Hey, remember that time I covered them?)

Cowboy Indian Bear


Keep Shelly In Athens

El Ten Eleven (Also playing Mission Creek)


Mr. Gnome


La Guerre

And just lots, lots more. Be sure to click the link at the top of the page and get tickets and go.

Unicycle Loves You – Tonight!

It’s a damned shame what the term “hipster” has come to mean. It used to mean, you know, someone who was hip. Now it has such an arrogant and hateful connotation that pretty much everyone denies that they are hipsters, even when they so very clearly are. But the thing about hipsters is that while they generally have ironic mustaches and sometimes wear silly clothes and unnecessary accessories, they’re usually pretty spot on when it comes to the artistic community.

Unicycle Loves You are hipsters. They are hipsters in mannerism and in dress. Their songs have that dream pop sound that a lot of recent bands have adopted. Lyrically, they are sarcastic. Their words drip with so much ironic detachment that I’d recommend bringing one of those giant tarps you’d see the people in the front row bring to Gallagher shows. But they are also awesome. So very, very awesome. They can sing and they can write and they can play. They are fun and are far from shoegazers.

Unicycle Loves You plays a 21+ show at Vaudeville Mews tonight with the doors at 8. Opening for them are four of Iowa’s best bands. The New Bodies, Wolves in the Attic, Love Songs For Lonely Monsters and The Wheelers all open, so for $5 you can see some of the best bands in the country. So slap on an ironic tee, slip on your hip waders and throw some fishing tackle in your hair and lets all go party. (I’m so very out of the loop, do hipsters still wear that stuff? I wouldn’t know I guess since I’m not a hipster.)

What’s Going On Tonight – Doomtree!

I am old and have a child and a real world job that requires me to wake up at 5 in the a.m. Plus, I got this new blog to take care of. You, very likely, don’t have all of those things. So, what’s stopping you from heading to the M-Shop tonight to see Doomtree? Nothing, probably. I’m sorry, that’s pretty combative for it being my first day. Just know that I’m grumpy that I’m going to miss this one, and I want to live vicariously through you.

Here’s the deal, you have these moments in life that you talk about for the rest of your life. A lot of those start with, “I wasn’t even going to go out last night, but…” So make tonight one of those nights and go see Doomtree.

More info Here

I’m not unrealistic. I know Ames can be a bit of a drive, even if the town is cool and the M Shop is awesome. So, go see somebody in Des Moines tonight. Cool shows at Gas Lamp and Vaudeville Mews, too. Or if you’re unlucky enough to read this somewhere other than Des Moines, go see somebody play music tonight.

The Heligoats At Vaudeville Mews – March 13

Chris Otepka (courtesy of The Heligoats Facebook Page)

The cool thing about being alive in 2012 is that we seemingly have access to pretty much anything we could want, right at our fingertips. So there really is very little excuse for people who bitch about not being able to find new music. Right now, I am listening to the new album Zoo by Ceremony. Who the fuck is Ceremony? I have no idea. But it was listed as a new album, so I am going to give it a shot. It is kind of loud and had some anger issues and so far I dig it, like, a whole bunch. And all it took was a mouse click.

Similar to that are the people who bitch about how a town the size of Des Moines doesn’t get cool acts. We get plenty of cool acts, you just have to be willing to put in a minor amount of effort. That minor amount of effort is what lead me to The Heligoats.

The Heligoats are the project of Chris Otepka, a DeKalb, IL native. They are a project much in the same way The Mountain Goats are John Darnielle’s project. Otepka plays shows with a band, and solo as The Heligoats, and they are both tremendous. Otepka has a kind of overt wit about him that just makes songs seem sillier than they ought to be, while at the same time writing and performing serious and intelligent melodies.

Back to my original point, bands like The Heligoats come to this town a lot (although, maybe not as good as The Heligoats, but you can see my point). What we seem to miss is that music at this point has gone way past the major record label business model and into an arena where someone with obscene talent can appear on a stage in front of 20 people and be just as good a show. Go to any of the venues’ websites or Facebook pages and they will usually list the bands who are playing, and a quick Google search can lead you to discover awesome new things. It was doing just that, that lead me to The Heligoats.

My point is this, you should go to The Heligoats and if you don’t you’re a lazy asshole.

More info is Here