Willliam Locker and Nella Thomas “1871” Music Video

Willliam Locker and Nella Thomas “1871” Music Video

It’s funny how nationalism and the Western genre have become intermingled. I blame John Wayne. After all, most of the best characters in the classic Westerns are outlaws, taking our American notions of justice and liberty into their own hands, following a civil war which had divided the the United States’ national identity down the middle. Sure, at some point we started rooting for the sheriffs and their deputies, but in this day-and-age, I think those times have passed. We’re once again rooting for the outlaw. Take the 2016 contemporary western, Hell or High Water, for example. The protagonists are two brothers, who’ve been forced to rob banks in order to secure a future for their families. The police officers charged with stopping them aren’t even presented as the antagonists, but rather the film points the moral finger at the banks which have been “legally” robbing people for years. That’s kind of the cultural shift we’re seeing right now. It’s a time of re-examining the laws that put civil rights and environmental activists under arrest, while “rulemakers” like police, banks, and big business continue to mold those laws to whatever form best fits their interests. Considering the state of things in this country, the figure of the outlaw probably holds more relevance today than it did when westerns first began to glow from the silver screen. So, it’s good to see some love for the ol’ western from some of our own here in Des Moines. The video for William Locker and Nella Thomas‘ “1871” (from Stefan Egeberg Hansen) does it right, starting with a death, and ending with a shootout, all while weaving a fiery tale...
Tony Bonton and the Mimzees “Sheltallica”

Tony Bonton and the Mimzees “Sheltallica”

Song cycles were once a prominent form of presenting music. A song cycle (or “Liederyklus” in German) is a group of songs with some type of coherence bringing them together. For Tony Bonton and The Mimzees‘ “Sheltallica” it is the words of Shel Silverstein. Those words have long resonated with Tommy Boynton, who composed 9 out of 10 songs in the cycle. Boynton’s musical prowess is evident and expanded upon by an incredible performance from Brendan O’Donnell on viola, but it isn’t really the music that strikes me as much as how they play it. I’ve never seen Tommy more at home than when he plays these songs. They are a part of him, and with a master like Brendan next to him, the confidence of the duo soars. The two weave their way through the mystical yet natural world of Silverstein, playfully changing pace and mood throughout the cycle, but always moving forward through the ebbs and flows. And that’s it. The playfulness. The youthfulness. The lack of a filter. That is what is important.  The ability to play is often forgotten once adulthood visits us, but Boynton and O’Donnell haven’t lost it.  This video, these songs, they are two people doing what they love to do most, while expressing their condition and the condition of others through the words of a true master. But even childhood is not without hard lessons. Silverstein’s words have never been empty, they are rich and full of knowledge and of heartache. Songs like “The Little Boy and The Old Man” are the perfect example of the cycles of life. We start much...
Cubits “Oh Well That Ends Well”

Cubits “Oh Well That Ends Well”

Lately, language has been failing me. I have been facing experiences and profundities whose lessons seem too complex to ever be described through something as reductive as words. After all, human emotional response certainly came before language, and while literature can help us shape our understanding, the basic determination of whether or not a particular experience fits into our worldview occurs before the words we use to explain why. Music history is rooted in this preverbal understanding. Rhythm has always had an energizing effect on listeners, while classical techniques elicited emotions from audiences for thousands of years before lyrics were added to direct them. Considering my own recent experiences into the nonverbal realms buried deep by evolution in the crevices of the brain, I’ve found myself really disconnected from lyric-based music. Hearing the attempts of contemporary musicians to frame otherwise naturally occurring emotions using the same worn-out metaphors of nature’s operation has seemingly run its course on these old, tired ears. So, when the first single, “Oh Well That Ends Well”, from the new Fairfield-based electronic-tinged shoegaze trio, Cubits, started kicking its way around the ol’ WWW, I was reminded of instrumental-based music’s ability to explore and rediscover these old musical concepts. The subtle electronic production that starts and builds underneath the track lifts the whole song into transitory realms where the distant guitar melodies collect and swirl like low-hanging fog. In fact, the song’s only lyrics, “I’m okay / In a way / I’m okay / Far away”, just further the song’s wandering, searching qualities, without oversimplifying the emotions involved in its capacity for self-discovery. “Oh Well That Ends Well”...
Quick Piss “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IMPOTENCE” OR Goodbye To All That: A Eulogy For Shit That Ain’t Punk (1776-2016)

Quick Piss “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IMPOTENCE” OR Goodbye To All That: A Eulogy For Shit That Ain’t Punk (1776-2016)

Like any other cold-blooded, lizard-brained American Hero, when I first got an email about reviewing the new album from Des Moines most decorated children’s choir, Quick Piss, I said yes immediately without giving it a second thought. At the time I was chilling down by the library on a breezy afternoon on my first day off of work since 80/35 but, again because I’m a fucking patriot, I dropped what I was doing and drove home immediately and cranked that shit loud and proud for all my esteemed Waveland Park neighbors as if it was just second nature. But as soon as the speakers started blaring I found myself totally disoriented, and not in the way that I usually get disoriented when I’m jammin’ out to these kiddos. I couldn’t figure it out and I was starting to worry that it meant that the album wasn’t “good” but then, by the awful and miraculous grace of God, “666 UPSIDE DOWN CRUCIFIX” came on and it all sort of clicked. I figured it out. The reason I was so disoriented was that the album I was listening to actually sounded like music. One of the maddeningly difficult aspects about writing about music, for me at least, is that I don’t know anything about music. I don’t know shit about bass lines and key changes and time signatures and I sure as fuck can’t keep a beat. I know the difference between a drum and a guitar, but aside from that I am clueless. Trying to fake my way across that vast chasm of knowledge has been easier that I thought...
The Savage Young Taterbug “Shadow of Marlboro Man”

The Savage Young Taterbug “Shadow of Marlboro Man”

“I’ll never break your heart if you never break mine.” – The Savage Young Taterbug I first encountered the eternal highway drifter and perennial grinning ghost Charles Free (a.k.a. The Savage Young Taterbug) on 4th Street before I ever knew who he was or heard any of his music. Whenever I’d see him, he was usually sitting behind the Vaudeville Mews with a group of two or more crusty boys, constantly smoking cigarettes and frequently smiling as he searched the pavement for answers. I never interacted with him. He seemed to be something that was placed downtown, like a potted plant or lightpole, more forged into the scenery of brick and spackle than separate from it. I did, however, remember his face. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the underground tape scene was growing to be a larger part of my life, that I stumbled across his musical output. Immediately, his gnarled and hissy Americana collages and dusty songs struck me as something truly unique. I had never heard anything quite like it, and to this day I can’t say I’ve heard anything similar since. His live shows are the type of thing traveling bands still emphatically talk about when they come back through Iowa. His tapes, too, are something of legend, often fetching triple or more than their initial price on sites like Discogs whenever they infrequently appear. There’s a mystery to Taterbug that is all but lost in the information-saturated world of modern music. His presence is hardly felt first-hand. Instead, it’s through stories told of dumpster diving or getting kicked out of bars with the man; from faded photos which seem like they’re thirty years old. It...
Karen Meat “On The Couch” Video

Karen Meat “On The Couch” Video

After pulling some love from both Stereogum and The Grey Estates, Karen Meat & The Computer have now premiered the music video for their upcoming 7″ single, “On The Couch”. The video (by our own Bruce James Bales of DEFT) features the Karen Meat crew doing, well, pretty much exactly what they do: shooting hoops, hanging out, and killing time. It’s one of those straight-forward videos which doesn’t take itself too seriously and really just gets straight to the childlike simplicity of things before “What are you doing with your life?” was ever a question on anyone’s mind. Also, I don’t think they sink a basket at any point during the video which is a perfect detail considering the band’s slacker vibes and penchant for sitting around on the couch. Watch the video below, and read details on Karen Meat & The Computer’s 7″ (courtesy of Des Moines-based Sump Pump Records) release party below below.     June 3 7:30 PM Vaudeville Mews 21+ $7 Karen Meat & The Computer (7″ Release) PURE GUT Land of Blood and Sunshine Dana Telsrow Odd Pets More information available...