Sunday, April 26, 2015


Posted April 22, 2015in Sound Check

Dwight Yoakam “Second Hand Heart” Reprise Dwight Yoakam has sold 21 million copies of his albums. Nine albums have gone platinum, and five of them have hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. So you know it is saying something when I say that “Second Hand Heart” is one of

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Posted April 15, 2015in Sound Check

Blues Traveler “Blow Up the Moon” Loud & Proud   Blues Traveler has always been, in essence, a talented group of guys fronted by a talented singer/mouth harp player who has been capable of churning out genuinely clever songs. But you get the nagging sense that it was never enough

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Posted April 08, 2015in Sound Check

Death Cab For Cutie “Kintsugi” Atlantic Death Cab For Cutie is perhaps the most transparent band ever. For much of its career, the band was content to wallow in the Elliot Smith, doom and gloom end of the sonic pool. Then singer Ben Gibbard found love, and out comes 2011’s

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Posted March 31, 2015in Sound Check

Various Artists “Hooray For Branstad” Maximum Ames As the past couple of state elections have clearly shown, Iowa loves Terry Branstad. We might all give him a hard time for the ever-present mustache, but at the end of the day, we think he is a swell guy who genuinely wants

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Posted March 25, 2015in Sound Check

Toto “Toto XIV” Frontiers Chances are very good that if you still think of Toto at all, the album you think of is “Toto IV,” and its two No. 1 singles, “Rosanna” and “Africa.” If that is what you are yearning for as you fire up “Toto XIV,” then prepare

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Posted March 18, 2015in Sound Check

Modest Mouse “Strangers to Ourselves” Epic   A bit of a footnote, but still worth mentioning: “Strangers to Ourselves” is Modest Mouse’s first album without bassist and founding member Eric Judy. Bands swap members all the time, and very few bands are truly known for what the bassist brings to

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Posted March 11, 2015in Sound Check

Madonna “Rebel Heart” Boy Toy   “You’re gonna love this,” Madonna claims in the first line of the song, “Bitch I’m Madonna.” But despite her seemingly confident proclamation, love never really blooms. The Diplo-produced track is almost completely uninspired and quickly devolves into a mish-mash of EDM ear-barf. The rest

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Posted March 04, 2015in Sound Check

Brandi Carlile “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” ATO   Brandi Carlile hasn’t gone anywhere. After breaking through with 2007′s “The Story,” Carlile has settled into what can comfortably be described as “her sound.” She has not shown the capacity to grow and evolve in quite the same fashion as, say, Ani DiFranco

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Posted February 25, 2015in Sound Check

Imagine Dragons “Smoke + Mirrors” Interscope Part of what made Imagine Dragons’ first album so much fun was its ability to be everybody and nobody all at once. You could hear smatterings of Killers, Arcade Fire, Dragonette, even Coldplay in their songs, but only the best bits of all those

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Posted February 18, 2015in Sound Check

Angle “Definitive Bedtime Stories” Independent   Des Moines does not have a great hip-hop scene. It is not for a lack of trying, it is just difficult to grow a scene organically with no major label backing and no breakthrough commercial talent, ala Slipknot or The Envy Corps. There is,

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