sound check

August 26, 2010
By Michael Swanger


“Stand Together”

Blind Pig Records

Like other musicians from abroad who borrow from them, Australian singer-harmonica-player Harper is clearly influenced by American blues and rock music. That much is clear on songs like “Looking At You” and “What Are You Gonna Do,” from his new album, “Stand Together.” But what separates Harper from other artists is his ability to integrate the indigenous sounds of American music with native Australian music thanks to his increasing, effective use of a didgeridoo. Where in the past the instrument gathered more attention perhaps for its novelty than its musicality, on “Stand Together,” Harper begins to truly utilize the didgeridoo as a vehicle of musical expression. Though it sometimes acts as an instrument with which Harper solos, it is most effective as a rhythm instrument and for setting the dark tone on songs like “I Never Want” and “Weaker Man.” CV

(Harper plays Blues on Grand Saturday, Aug. 28 at 9:30 p.m. $10.)


Brent Houzenga

“My Whole Life”

Independent release

As is the case with some artists, they also have a knack for playing music. Case in point, Clinton native and Des Moines resident Brent Houzenga, who is best known for his mixed media art that draws inspiration from modern art, comic books, punk rock posters, album covers and street art. Like his art, his music draws from a wealth of influences, but most noticeably is steeped in the singer-songwriter tradition with a healthy dose of indie- and punk-rock added for flavor. His new solo album, “My Whole Life,” is a heady, honest, acoustic album that finds Houzenga singing about the autobiographical (“My Whole Life”), lost love (“Heartbreaking Contest”) and loneliness (“Apt Song.”). He even borrows some Nirvana-like sounds on “Destroy You” and “Sentiment,” which is followed by minutes of silence, then a hidden cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” CV

(Visit for details about upcoming shows.)

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