i want to live forever: A Review of Glitter Density’s “Make Ya Mother Proud”

Almost a century ago a woman named Edith Wharton became the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction when she published The Age of Innocence, a tragic love story set in New York City during the 1870’s about a doomed romance between a man with a bright future and a woman with a questionable past. Towards the end of the novel the protagonist, Archer Newland, is talking to himself about his son’s generation and recalling his own difficult decision to choose duty over love, and says:

“The difference is that these young people take it for granted that they’re going to get whatever they want, and that we almost always took it for granted that we shouldn’t. Only, I wonder— the thing one’s so certain of in advance: can it ever make one’s heart beat as wildly.”

The generation of young people right now taking their first tentative steps into the real world is the first generation in a long time that must exert a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish any kind of life that is either comfortable or fulfilling, to say nothing of both at the same time, and this burden seemingly has freed them to more seriously consider how best to apply that effort, forced them to consider what kind of life might actually be worth that effort.

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Waka Flocka Flame, Mike Floss at ISU Ag Center, Oct. 11

Whether he’s rapping overtop marching horns or making light of the time he got shot, it’s pretty certain Waka Flocka Flame goes hard in da mutha fucking paint.

Waka Flocka, born Juaquin James Malphurs, grew up in the music scene with his mom, Debra Antney, as the former manager of Gucci Mane. Mane gets to take credit for being the brains behind the creative name of “Flocka Flame” while “waka” came from the Muppets character Fozzie Bear’s catch phrase, “waka waka.”

Since Waka Flocka was surrounded by musicians, it was no surprise when the then 24-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, jumped into the music scene with his first album, Flockaveli, in 2010.

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Glitter Density at Vaudeville Mews, July 2

Glitter Density is a great name, isn’t it? I mean like, truly great. I try not to put too much stock in judging band names for the standard, obvious, book-by-a-cover reasons but Glitter Density really is just spot-on. I can’t think of any other name that could as accurately describe, like philosophically and aesthetically, what this band is all about. I feel like I could spend pages and pages trying to explain what Glitter Density’s music means but I don’t think I’d ever be able to explain it as well as their name does.

On the one hand it’s telling you all about your glitter, glitz, glamour, your summertime, your basic teeny-bopper bubblegum romance, on the other hand it’s warning you all about your dense, heavy, deep, your slime/ruckus, your basic gritty, stone-faced, fuck-this-shit punk. It really is just the perfect name for this promising young band.

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Interview with Leyla McCalla

When you first hear Leyla McCalla’s voice emerge on her new record it feels like it has come a very, very long distance to get there, miles and miles and decades and decades away. And you’d be right. Leyla McCalla was born in New York to Haitian immigrants and, after training in classical music at Smith College and New York University, she moved to New Orleans to more deeply embrace her roots as a Haitian, as an immigrant, as an American, and as an inheritor of African-American culture.

The result is an album that is steeped in 300 years of history and emotion. You hear the determination and resolve of rebels in Saint-Domingue and the German Coast in Louisiana. You hear the pain and loss felt by women who had their children ripped from their arms, never to be seen again. You hear the hopes and fears of migrants standing on a dock trying desperately to make a momentous and irreversible decision. You hear almost the whole sweep of post-colonial history in the Americas, in all it’s monstrosity and grace.

On top of all that, her songs are just stunningly arranged. She has combined classical and jazz influences with Haitian and Creole folk traditions in a way that feels both freshly original and prehistorically natural. I had the incredible luck to ask McCalla a few questions about her art before her June 14 show at the Des Moines Social Club. I’m pleased and proud to present her answers below.

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Radkey, SWMRS, The Frights at Lefty’s, March 19

This show caught my attention because of Radkey opening. About a year ago now, our website and Des Moines Bike Collective collaborated on an after-party show for the Des Moines Social Club’s over-attended Food Truck Throwdown.

As I recall, hungry swarms of people flooded into The Basement after waiting in food truck lines for hours only to have many of the vendors sell out of food entirely. As they converged on the relatively small underground venue, they were near rioting from starvation before Radkey took the stage and managed to calm the raging crowd with their snot-nose punk antics and three-piece sonic assault.

The sudden 180 created a kind of bubble of ecstacy for the rest of the night. I don’t recall ever seeing more smiling faces as the chairs and tables were cleared and one of the sassiest and sweatiest dance parties I have ever seen proceeded to explode into existence driven by waves of pure satiation.


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Interview with Land of Blood and Sunshine

Land of Blood and Sunshine is a central Iowa based rock band whose genre is hard to label. Sharing elements of punk and indie rock and some of the more tribal corners of world music, their sound can often range from layers of sonic aggression to psychedelic experimentation, much the same way the band name implies. The band has been featured on IPR’s Studio One and has played the stages of Des Moines’ 80/35 Music Festival and Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival.

The band will be releasing their new full-length album, “Lady and the Trance”, will be released February 12 at The Basement. The show begins at 9 PM.

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5cm Recordings Showcase at Vaudeville Mews, Jan. 24

It was a little over a year ago now that I interviewed Mathias Timmerman of the Des Moines based music label, 5cm Recordings for dsmshows. Twelve months and twelve releases later, the label has expanded outward from its ambient electronics leaning to releases of no-wave experimentation from bands like Culture Chester and Erases Eraser, the unadulterated distortion of locals Nostromo and Person Whale, and the post post-rock of projects like Basin and Underwater Escape from the Black Hole.

Labels have long served a curatorial role in the release of music. With the emergence of countless independently run music labels over the past seven or so years, I think that role is more important than ever.

After all, audiences have come to expect specific things from the labels they follow. We no longer rely on a few major labels to shape our musical taste, but rather we have the advantage of being able to dive down the rabbit hole on any microgenre by following any number of different labels all releasing music highly specific to our particular interests.

The impressive part is when a music label is able to so seamlessly release music from a variety of different genres, yet have all of those releases make sense under the label’s specific musical aesthetic.

This is how 5cm Recordings can release music ranging from ambient music to harsh noise and everything in between, and manage to make it all feel and sound cohesive. I imagine these kind of labels as a giant Venn diagram, resembling (for lack of a better comparison) a cluster of grapes wherein all of the releases are connected aesthetically to one another.

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Lucca Soria, John Pope at Vaudeville Mews, Sept. 12

I think the greatest testament to Lucca Soria’s skills as a songwriter and singer and performer occurred to me at the last show he performed in Des Moines, sometime in December of last year if I’m not mistaken. I was stunned almost to speechlessness while I was out smoking in between his solo performance and his full band set when I met his mom and we talked about boring domestic stuff like the city and finishing college.

It was mindblowing because during his solo set he had sound checked by singing a snippet of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” except he did it in his trademark grizzled slur and he changed the words up a little, essentially growling through the words, “If I ain’t have you, babe.”

After he did this, he had me convinced he was ancient. A wisp. A legend of the rails. Some heartbroken drifter who had shivered through three times as many winters as my own 67-year-old father. I had taken a class with him when we’d both been at Drake, but even with that concrete knowledge in my head I started to wonder how many decades he’d spent sleeping in the Catskill Mountains before waking up and coming directly to this show.

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Modern Life is War at the Vaudeville Mews, July 18

Modern Life is War’s 2005 masterpiece, Witness, is the greatest Iowa album of all time. Greater even than Iowa itself. The legendary status surrounding the band serves only to further support this claim.

The name Modern Life is War is met with nothing but adoration and respect across the entire planet Earth. I’ve seen the name appear in the thank yous of liner notes of numerous albums and I’ve heard people fall speechless in trying to describe the effect that Witness has had on their life.

For me, it was released in the height of the hardcore revival in the early 2000s. I was living in Cedar Falls at the time which has long served as a hub for all things heavy in music, still holding that status today. Although I don’t listen to an awful lot of hardcore music these days, I still consider some of the (boat)house shows in that city some of the best live musical experiences of my life.

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Upcoming Events

9:00 pm Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Sep 21 @ 9:00 pm
Open Mic Night @ The Gaslamp
Hosted by Josh, Jerry & Dylan! Do you play an instrument, sing, do spoken word, perform magic tricks, juggle etc. etc. Well then this is the night for you! Free and open to the public!
4:30 pm Work Release with Bob Pace and t... @ The Gaslamp
Work Release with Bob Pace and t... @ The Gaslamp
Sep 22 @ 4:30 pm
Work Release with Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band @ The Gaslamp
Work Release is when your weekend starts! Come get funky with Bob Pace and The Dangerous Band as they guide you into the weekend! They’ll have you movin, groovin, doin it…ya know! They’ll play thru[...]
5:30 pm Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Sep 22 @ 5:30 pm
Jazz Happy Hour @ The Basement
Join the Synergy Jazz Foundation and DMSC for our Friday Happy Hour series, a free jazz concert series featuring a diverse roster of local jazz musicians as well as occasional performances by touring musicians from[...]
7:00 pm Monthly Salsa Night w/ Los Parra... @ Noce
Monthly Salsa Night w/ Los Parra... @ Noce
Sep 22 @ 7:00 pm
Parranderos Latin Combo (PLC) is a Latin music group based in Des Moines, IA.  The group’s self-titled debut album includes 9 original songs written in Iowa and recorded in San Juan, Puerto Rico by Grammy award[...]
9:00 pm Jewel City Sounds Presents: Unde... @ The Basement
Jewel City Sounds Presents: Unde... @ The Basement
Sep 22 @ 9:00 pm
the new style…underground vinyl sound. music. libations. the world. 4th Friday of the month. the basement jewel city sound Free. All Ages. 9:00pm. Facebook Event
7:00 pm Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Sep 24 @ 7:00 pm
Sunday Night Blues Showcase @ The Gaslamp
Event Name : Sunday Night Blues Showcase Staring The Bad Boys of The Blues (EVERY SUNDAY). Start Date : 2016-04-03 Start Time : 7pm Event Details : 7pm to 11pm FREE EvenT Content : Sunday[...]
7:30 pm Open Mic @ Iowa Music Store
Open Mic @ Iowa Music Store
Sep 24 @ 7:30 pm
Come and play your songs, read your poetry and share your art. Sign up on the day of open mic.