sound check

February 3rd, 2011 |
By Michael Swanger

J Trey


Minor League Music/Throne Muzik

Just when I thought Des Moines’ J Trey had done their best work on their last album, “Jaze Reign,” they prove themselves more than capable of raising the bar with their third and most impressive studio album, “Blue/Soul.” The Hip-Hop act led by MC Jeremy Trudeau, a.k.a. JT, not only incorporates R&B, pop and soul music into its versatile sound, but a touch of jam band rock. To help give it some added punch, it has expanded its roster to include a four-piece backing band, helping to set itself apart from other groups and its previous recordings. The album’s first half features remixed and remastered versions of previously recorded songs (“Drift Away,” “Lover Lover”) while the second half includes new hits like “Hold A Candle” and “No Kids.” CV

(J Trey hosts a CD release show on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 10 p.m. at the Vaudeville Mews. $5.)


Strange Arrangement


Independent release

I didn’t receive this album in time to preview Strange Arrangement’s show last week at The Underground in Des Moines, but thought it was noteworthy enough to include in this week’s “Sound Check” after the fact. For starters, this Chicago-based jam band’s roots have an Iowa connection as its members Joe Hettinga, Jim Conry, Kevin Barry and Bob Parlier attended the School for Music Vocation in Creston from 1998 to 2000, which was created by Grammy Award nominated arranger Phil Mattson. Since then, Strange Arrangement has developed a loyal grassroots following, and its progressive sound patterned after its heroes like Phish, Herbie Hancock, Umphrey’s McGee and Wilco. Its new album, “Polygraph,” is a musical melting pot of jazz, funk, rockabilly, soul and progressive and psychedelic rock that reaches its peak on tunes like “Steamroller,” “The Route” and “Creston.” Fans of Umphrey’s McGee, particularly, might like this album. CV