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Des Moines Cityview


Sound Check

Sept 1 , 2011
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By Michael Swanger

Dave Beck

"Stranger Homes"

Independent release

Iowa native Dave Beck found his way into the heart of the Brooklyn, N.Y., songwriting scene after dropping out of guitar school in Hollywood and having spent some time at the University of Iowa where he also worked at an Irish pub and started writing songs. He has spent the last three years in New York honing his craft, and the result is his new album, "Stranger Homes," a folk-alt-rock project packed with 10 original songs that revolve mostly around Beck's love life anxieties. The music or subject matter isn't groundbreaking, but the musicians here perform well together, especially on songs like "Based on Before," "If You Build It" and "Mississippi." Beck's quirky, dialogue-like vocals add intrigue to the project. CV

(Dave Beck performs an all-ages show on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vaudeville Mews. Dustin Smith and Eric Kennedy open. $5.)

Ryan Sheeler

"Polk County Line"

Independent release

On his website (, Ryan Sheeler of Ames claims to be many things, including a singer, songwriter, poet, composer, guitarist, educator, computer programmer and Christian. So one can only assume that the collective life experiences that he has gathered over the years from so many endeavors are the source for the personal, detailed narratives he performs throughout his new, self-released album, "Polk County Line." The acoustic, singer-songwriter affair was recorded at his home studio and features a mix of folk, rock, country and blues on songs like the title track, "6 AM to Nowhere," "Johnny Fire" and "Highway 141." Sheeler might not count being a great singer among his many aforementioned talents, but his insights as a songwriter sustain this album. CV

(Ryan Sheeler performs Friday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at Snus Hill Winery in Madrid. Admission is free.)

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