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Posted May 14, 2014in Sound Check

The White Elephant “Cocaine Love Letter” Independent After putting out two of the better roots-rock albums released in the state, The White Elephant is, in its own words, pumping the breaks a bit. Eschewing the crunchy, electrified, three-chord blues-infused rock riffs of its first two albums, “Cocaine Love Letter” is

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Posted May 07, 2014in Sound Check

Lily Allen “Sheezus” Regal/Parlophone This is a perfectly acceptable album. Really, that’s as close to the quick as you can cut. Nothing about “Sheezus” is particularly horrible — bland, maybe — but nothing here will re-invent your life, either. Lily Allen starts the album with the title track, which serves

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Posted April 30, 2014in Sound Check

Bonne Finken “Fairytales/Love Affairs” Independent I’m just going to say it: This is the best thing Bonne Finken has ever done. Originally planned as a double album (something teased in the split title), Finken condensed “Fairytails/Love Affairs” down to 14 tracks, and there’s not a song on the album that

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Posted April 23, 2014in Sound Check

The Pixies “Indie Cindy” Pixiesmusic There are two ways to look at “Indie Cindy.” You can compare it to the other alt-rock albums being released today, or you can compare it to The Pixies, an iconic American band that last released an album 23 years ago. If you choose to

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Posted April 16, 2014in Sound Check

Amps For Christ “Canyons Cars and Crows” 5 Rue Experimental folk/noise project Amps For Christ is back with its first full-length album since 2006’s “Every Eleven Seconds.” If you’re familiar with Henry Barnes’ Man is the Bastard work, you have a good idea what to expect from Amps For Christ,

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Posted April 09, 2014in Sound Check

The Faint “Doom Abuse” SQE The Omaha, Neb., indie-whatever-it-is returns with the band’s first album in six years, and in many ways, it’s classic Faint. A lot is going on all over the album, with the first few tracks (“Help in the Head,” “Mental Radio,” and “Evil Voices” and “Salt

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Posted April 02, 2014in Sound Check

Twins “Tomboys on Parade” Maximum Ames I am nakedly, unabashedly, undoubtedly a fan of Twins. The music has a happy-go-lucky, early ’60s throwback feel to it that is undeniable fun. But Twins is not simply a kitschy nostalgia act. These guys — Sires brothers Luke, Harper and Joel, along with

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Posted March 26, 2014in Sound Check

Various Artists “DSM@SXSW” Maximum Ames Three weeks ago, the city of Des Moines, in collaboration with the Des Moines Music Commission and Maximum Ames Records, gathered a dozen of the capital city’s most popular acts together and took them down to Austin, Texas, for the South By Southwest Festival. The

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Posted March 19, 2014in Sound Check

George Michael “Symphonica” Island “Symphonica” is not, in the strictest sense of the term, a new album. The vast majority of what’s covered here is from 1999’s “Songs From the Last Century” and 2004’s “Patience.” The vocals are great, of course — nobody’s ever doubted that Michael could sing —

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Posted March 12, 2014in Sound Check

Foxholes “Can’t Help Myself” Independent Foxholes has turned a decent little trick. The band is reminiscent of a lot of other acts without ever feeling wholly derivative. Kicking back and listening to “Can’t Help Myself,” you’ll find yourself conjuring up images of The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr., and front man

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