Thursday, June 24, 2021

Join our email blast

Sound Check

Sound Check


NPWO“Whiteout Conditions”

The New Pornographers


The New Pornographers seems like a band that should have imploded a decade ago. It’s made up of enough successful individuals (A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar) that the band gets called a supergroup, making a Fleetwood Mac-style breakup all but inevitable. The band’s seventh album is missing Dan Bejar due to commitments to Destroyer, but “Whiteout Conditions” continues in the sweet spot established by 2014’s “Brill Bruisers.” “Whiteout Conditions” is heavy on harmony, with Newman, Case and Kathryn Calder trading off on the lead of each song, while still melding together into a somewhat ethereal style. The album is full of dark material about depression and living in a post-Trump world, but damn if it doesn’t sound poppy and exciting. Now entering its third decade, “Whiteout Conditions” shows The New Pornographers still has the talent to make each new album an event. Even with a key member missing, the band is at the top of its game. ♦

mbntssb2“The Solar String Band”

Prep Iowa - Pride Month

Mr. Baber’s Neighbors

Baberhood Records

Last month Des Moines lost iconic bluegrass musician Jeff Blanchard, the bearded frontman for Mr. Baber’s Neighbors. The band was omnipresent at local events like 80/35, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, Camp Euforia and many other events. Mr. Baber’s Neighbors released its first album 10 years ago, and in Jeff’s honor, let’s revisit and reminisce about the band’s first album. The album is a perfect primer for the Baber experience: lots of picking, intimate singing with all the members gathered around the mic, and the feel that each song was made to be sung next to a campfire on a summer night. There’s nothing groundbreaking about these songs, but then there hasn’t been anything groundbreaking about bluegrass for decades. Blanchard and his bandmates stick to the basics, creating a sound that would have been just as relevant in 1957 as 2007. “Goodbye, angel, don’t cry, angel,” the band sang on the album’s last track, “Deep River Waltz.” It’s an old-timey song of regret and lost love disappearing before the end of a night. It’s sad and touching, but a reminder that a story continues on even after a loss. Everyone will miss Jeff, but we’ll ramble on without him. He would have wanted it that way. ♦





Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Summer Stir