Thursday was time for our weekly spot on Des Moines only local, live morning show, Great Day on KCWI. This week, Chad talks some festival news, breaks down your holiday show options for the weekend, and talks about a couple of local acts to check out.
Last Friday, The Maytags rocked Wooly's in celebration of the release of their debut EP with help from Tiny Deaths, Kris Adams and the Lefties, and Gloom Balloon. Photographer Brenna Norman was on the scene to capture Dustin Smith throw down with his new band. Check out the gallery below!
This week on 99.1 KFMG's Critical Mass, Chad and Joe let you know what's happening in Des Moines with Christmas slowly approaching. This week, the boys talk about Max Wellman, The Des Moines Gay Men's Chorus, Annalibera, and Chad has a special message to Steel Panther fans.
This week on KCWI's Great Day morning show, Chad Taylor talks about the change over at the old House of Bricks, the Neon Trees show at Vets Auditorium, and Slipknot's Grammy nomination.
When I was in grad school, someone told me that the best paper is a finished paper. So freaking true. Regardless of the verity of that statement, it did nothing for getting my damn fingers to just.type.the.first.word. Nevertheless, I learned the lesson. So each week–for the most part, because I am also known for soapboxing, tangents, politicizing music, and general feminist rabblerousing–I will introduce you to a woman in music you should know but probably don’t. And to make it easier on me, I’ll just start with a name.
To be quite honest, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about Jenny Kohls…and not just because I happen to have the honor of being in two bands with her. Gigging since she was a teenager, Kohls is one of the most prolific writers and talented artists I have ever heard of. She’s one of those people that you completely admire but with a grain of secret jealousy because she can literally do anything—she’s got an Instagram that you simply MUST follow if you like beautiful pictures of Iowa; she is an accomplished artist with talent that makes you check to see if she has both ears; and she can play any instrument she picks up. But her instrument of choice is the guitar. Almost completely self-taught, Kohls is, as my buddy Chad Taylor put it, a “really underrated” guitarist in the Des Moines music scene.
Most of her work has been as the member of a band, from Extant to Kiriko to the Honeybees. In the last couple of years, Kohls has undergone a metamorphosis from a utility player, supporting vocalist, and a killer lead guitarist to a solo artist with limitless potential. Her playing style can range from melodic arpeggiated chords to bluesy guitar licks to straight rock. In 2010, she released her first solo album, Whiskey Nights. The five song EP ranges from subdued and melancholy (“Evening Shadows” – my favorite) to an upbeat and infectious song that I’ve dubbed the Gay Pride Anthem (“Come on Out”). In fact, “Come on Out” was the soundtrack to the Iowa Pride Network’s public service announcement for National Gay Straight Alliance Day.Read More
Jordan Mayland is easy to hear around town. Whether it's with Wheelers, Volcano Boys or Jordan Mayland & Thermal Detonators, Mayland has his hand in some of the most notable sounds happening in the capital city. This week, Volcano Boys release their new self titled album. But before that, Mayland sat down and gave us his 8 Tracks.
Da Vinci // Weezer
My friends and those who might listen to my music have probably picked up on the fact I’m a huge Weezer fan. Weezer spoke to me when I first heard the “Blue Album.” I Remember I was in 6th grade band class and my friends were handing around this cd in the trumpet section. “You have to listen to this. It’s so fun and it rocks.” As a geeky kid who still loved rock music, it was just top notch.
Their latest album is truly great. It’s what a lot of Weezer fans have wanted from them for a long while. Though, don’t get me wrong. I have loved many of their albums and continued to at least give them all a chance since their earlier days. I just love the group so much that it’s hard to hate on them. I’m glad they’re a band who takes a chance and attempts to reinvent themselves, but this album sums up a lot of their career and still has that classic Weezer vibe.
Rent I Pay // Spoon
I love Spoon. I always forget I love Spoon. This is the first track off of their newest album. It reminds me, when hearing it, to listen to the full album. It’s got a great dirty rock and roll feel. The gravel in his voice correlates well with that vibe. They really push the mix to the red in this song and their guitars are always a perfected vintage sound. I would have loved to be in their practice when they started grooving on this song. Great vocal harmonies half way through the tune too. It reminds me of the experimental and perfected harmonies of The Beatles.
Nervous // Ozma
I saw Ozma open for Weezer about 12 years ago. They played a rocking synth and guitar heavy version of the Tetris video game theme song "Korobeiniki." I thought and may have said aloud, “Is this a rock cover of Mozart?” (Yeah, I didn’t have Tetris growing up). Nonetheless, I quickly discovered their discography and became a life-long fan and friend of some of the members of the band. Daniel Brummel has always been really cool to me in person. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with the band multiples times when they would tour through the Midwest. Spending a day in Minneapolis, or hanging out in a van next to a corn field in Iowa. I’ve grown to very much admire the intelligent songwriting of Daniel Brummel and Ryen Slegr. Slegr’s guitar solos are impressive and fun as well. Though, this track was actually written by the newest member of their group, drummer Kenn Shane, and sang by their keyboardist Star Wick. It’s a perfect pop song. It’s cute, clever, it has some heavy guitars and great arpeggiated synth lines. It is from their last album “Boomtown” that came out this last spring I believe, and Daniel Brummel and Ryen Slegr co-wrote a great song from Weezer’s new album, while Daniel tours as Weezer’s current 5th multi-instrumentalist member.
Daphne Descends // Smashing Pumpkins
This is not from a recent album. This is from “Adore,” an album I didn’t give a good chance to when it came out. It’s like rediscovering my favorite band all over again.
Regrets // Ben Folds Five
When I have to pull out an answer to the taboo question, “What’s your favorite album?” I cringe a little, because it’s almost impossible to answer. There are many albums that mean a bunch to me. I could talk for hours about even one of them. But, I do have a go to: “The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner” by Ben Folds Five. It was an album that had to grow on me. I had another of their albums, but this one seemed a bit more serious to me. It’s just gorgeous and fun. The breakdown of this song “Regrets” at around 3:05, with that reverbed out bass drum, the tempo change, is a highlight of the album.
Alone + Easy Target // Foo Fighters
I have been a fan of Foo Fighters since Dave Grohl recorded this first album in 1995. He plays all instruments and it was encouraging to hear that when you’re young and needing inspiration. The chorus and bridge have such great hooks. The drum fil around 3:00 or so going out of the breakdown will forever be one of my favorite fills.
If I Had A Tail // Queens of the Stone Age
This was certainly one of my favorite and most listened to albums of 2013. Josh Homme is the man of eternal badass blues licks. His production skills on all albums from QOTSA to Them Crooked Vultures are perfectly detailed. I’d let him produce one of my records. Josh?
Human Sadness // Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
I will mention “taking chances” a lot when talking about my music or other people’s art often. You can’t not do it. It’s easy to fall into a mold. You don’t want to just do an impersonation of yourself, or your own band. You also don’t want to bite the hand that feeds. Some people I know have dogged on this new Julian Casablancas + The Voidz album “Tyranny.” Yeah, it’s different. At times it’s catchy, and other times you’re thinking “why?” I think it’s great to ask that question. “Why?” Why put out the same style? Why not try something new? Why not freak people out? The answer is pushing yourself. Pushing the norm of melody, chord progressions, tone, etc. This was the first song Julian Casablancas released from his new band effort with The Voidz. It’s epic. It’s long. It’s different. The introduction starts with dissonant strings that quickly merge with the songs main bass line hook and fits completely differently in context to the original key. When I heard this song I immediately thought it’s what TiRES and Gloom Balloon might sound like if we were to collaborate. The rest of the album is darker and grittier, filled with synth heavy punk riffs that make you feel almost uncomfortable but, why?
Volcano Boys share their album release party at Vaudeville Mews with Easy Fruit on Saturday, December 13 at 5:30. In the meantime, check out their new single, "You're Favorite Song" here.
Written by William Erixon
When it was announced that Joni Ernst had won the race for U.S. Senate here in Iowa I was standing in a Greyhound bus station in Kansas City next to a mustachioed, half-latino truck driver named Glenn who was heading home to Corpus Christi. I was on my way to Austin, for the first time ever, to visit the best friend I’ve ever had and attend a three-day music festival. After the heartbreaking results on Tuesday it would have been incredibly easy to become disillusioned with Iowa, it would have been incredibly easy to fall in love with Austin and starting getting enough of my shit together so that I could be in a position to move down there as soon as my lease is up. After seeing Brooks Strause, We Are The Willows, and Ryan Stier of The River Monks perform at the Vaudeville Mews late on a snowy Saturday night I realized that “easy” is the only thing it would have been. Easy is the only thing that is inherent and fundamentally true about Austin, and that is why there will never come a day when I don’t call Des Moines home even if, god forbid, I do wind up moving away someday.
It started snowing sometime around midday on Saturday, November 15th and it didn’t stop until sometime in the morning on the 16th, by which time I was fast asleep on a green, floral print couch that is easily at least 20 years old. After a sometime precarious drive through the powdery streets I parked on the corner of 5th and Walnut and made my way towards The Mews, walking past a well dressed couple walking out of some kind of special event at Big City Burgers talking about the price of Keystone Light and around an amiable man in a puffy Kansas City Chiefs jacket shoveling snow outside The Lift. Less than ideal road conditions and a pair of wonderful new friends I ran into right outside the doors conspired to make me late for the show and the first thing I heard when I walked in was the sound of Brooks Strause wailing away on his harmonica and gently plucking away at his guitar.Read More
As you all know by now, Band Bombshell has a weekly spot on the only live local morning show, KCWI's Great Day. This week, the brilliant and talented Rae Fehring stepped in and let everyone know what's going on in Des Moines this week. Did you miss it? Here it is! Did you catch it? Watch it again!
Did you catch Critical Mass on 99.1 KFMG yesterday? If not, you missed some good stuff. But FEAR NOT, little bombshells, because we've got you covered. This week, the boys talk about Shaky Graves, Holy White Hounds is becoming the go-to local opener for touring acts, Joe talks about planning shows around kids, and Chad lays down some truth about the latest spate of venue closings.
Written by Chad Taylor
Welcome to your "day late" edition of 8 Tracks. This week's theme is all about motivation. Sometimes, life gets you down. Things can feel overwhelming, maybe you miss a deadline *cough*, and sometimes you just feel like you're always behind the 8 ball.
But it's never too late to pick yourself up and rally. It's only Tuesday, kids: let's grab the rest of this week by the short and curlies and give it a good tug! So, to help you show this world who's boss (spoiler alert: it's you), here's a rundown of some of the best movie montage themes to help get you pumped. Let's doooooo this!
Joe Esposito // You're the Best
Probably the greatest montage ever, Joe Esposito's 80's anthem helped young Daniel Larusso win his way to the top of the (surprisingly well-attended) All-Valley Karate Tournament.
Survivor // Eye of the Tiger
Actually NOT the training montage music from Rocky III (the montage was set to the franchises iconic "Gonna Fly Now") Eye of the Tiger is nevertheless the best song from the soundtrack, and the one that people most easily identify with the film. Also, it kicks more ass.
Paul Engemann // Push it to the Limit
Now, sure, Scarface isn't so much "training" in this montage as he is "getting obscenely wealthy off a whole bunch of cocaine", but the sentiment remains the same: carpe that diem! (But maybe don't become a drug kingpin. It rarely ends well.)
Karla DeVito // We Are Not Alone
An overlooked montage, mainly because it's so darn short, but this dance snippit towards the end of The Breakfast Club is one of the most fun parts of an entirely great movie, and the song is part of a wildly underrated soundtrack.
Vangelis // Chariots of Fire
The synth-tastic theme song from the greatest film ever made about British guys running, Chariots of Fire has also become synonymous with victory.
John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band // Hearts on Fire
The Rocky franchise strikes again, with this installment from Rocky IV. Watching Rocky run up that damn mountain in the snow is enough to get anyone moving. It's not Reagan who ended the Cold War; it was Rocky.
The Beach Boys // When I Grow Up (to be a Man)
This was Caroline's addition to the list and, frankly, I'm not 100% sold on it as a montage. But still, it's a clever little scene and the Beach Boys aren't ever really going to steer you wrong.
Trey Parker & Matt Stone // America, Fuck Yeah
could have gone extra meta and picked "Montage", but when you think of Team America, this is the song that gets it done. It's also, let's be honest, the most badass song in the movie. I couldn't find the actual Team America montage on YouTube, but this Team Fortress 2 video gets the point across just fine.
It's time once again for Critical Mass on 99.1 KFMG. Joe Lawler and our own Chad Taylor can be heard live every Wednesday at 1 p.m., or you can catch them anytime you like right here.
This week, the boys talk about Little BIG Fest, House of Bricks last show, and a very messy birthday party at Hull Ave Tavern. Music this week provided by Cirrus Minor and The High Crest!
Words // Caroline Taylor
Pictures // Chad Taylor
You know how, if you cant decide if you like someone, you do a pros and cons list? Pro: nice eyes, con: wears boot-cut jeans, pro: kisses good, con: doesn’t like chocolate.* Little Big Fest’s pop-up-show-DSM-East-Village-reality-tour left me feeling a little bit like I’d been dating someone for a week and then they told me my dog would have to sleep outside when they ‘stayed over’ wink wink. To get my thoughts in order and to try and decide if I really liked the concept and execution at all, I thought I’d do a pros and cons list (due to me being really grown up about everything and not at all needing to devalue everything down to the level of a boy scout disco)
Ok, so: Little Big Fest pop-up shows are five mini-gigs held at different locations around the East Village. You walk around to each venue (shop, restaurant, what have you) and catch a quickie 15-minute/three-song show from a local act who then goes on to perform later that night at the ‘Fest’ itself.
PRO: COOL, NICHE-EY IDEA
CON: POP-UPS AREN’T A DRAW CARD ANYMORE
Initially, I can see how, during a brainstorm, someone banged down on the table and went “By Lord! Lets do pop-up shows!” and everyone was like “Cool Darren, pop-ups, rad!” and maybe five years ago, Darren would have been heralded a genius. Unfortunately, everything has been ‘popped-up’ now- from fashion to markets. Pop-ups are the new flash-mob and conceptually, for an audience member, I think ‘eugh, tedious.' Call it anything else and you free the concept to evolve and change—street side performances, outside stage, longer sets, whatever. Drop the ‘pop-up’ moniker. It's helping no one.Read More
Written by William Erixon
It’s fitting that, as I sit to write about Folk Hop, the latest project from Iowa-based rapper Depths (aka Nu Depths, real name Cody Clarke), I am visiting my family at my boyhood home just south of Crescent, IA (population 617). I wound up having a lot of mixed feelings about this album that, not exactly coincidentally, mirror the mixed feelings I have towards my hometown and the peculiarities and peccadillos of rural Iowa in general.
I’m sitting on a wooden dining room chair that is being stored in my old bedroom next to a bunch of mislabeled Rubbermaid tubs and a couple of vacuum cleaners. To my left is the closet that contains, rather embarrassingly, the first seeds of my music collection (if you don’t already know what Alterbridge is, please spare me the shame and don’t google it). Downstairs in a large china hutch next to the chess table is a collection of the music my parents raised me on, mostly just Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Mannheim Steamroller, and traditional Irish folk music. In the corner of the room where the mattress I forced my parents to let me sleep on in lieu of a traditional bed used to be there is not, but should be, a plaque commemorating the moment my life changed, both generally and in terms of the music I listened to.
This is the room in which I first heard The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon.” The town of Crescent, Iowa is about 15 to 20 minutes north of Council Bluffs, a comparative metropolis of 60,000-ish residents where I attended school, first drank alcohol, and spent the majority of my formative years. My foundational years however, belong to Crescent, IA, and even earlier, Missouri Valley, IA, the county seat, and most populous incorporated entity, of Harrison County, another 30 minutes north of Council Bluffs.Read More
Little Big Fest went off this past weekend, with headliner William Elliott Whitmore holding down the biggest crowd of the night at Wooly's. Before his set though, we got to chat with him a bit about living in Iowa, his punk-show roots, and that Americana sound.
Written by Erika Owen
There is something so completely lame about eating so much the only thing you can stand to do is nap. I'm not judging—I do it, too—but it seems like when you've gathered friends, family, and any other of your life's VIPs, that should be the last thing you want to do. But on the other side of it, I can't stand those families who decide that running a Turkey Trot before (or heaven forbid, after) a Thanksgiving meal is a "bonding activity." Let's get to the happy medium, people: Enjoying some music and catching up on life. Sounds nice, right? So, how about this year, post-feast, you ditch the cellphones, grab a couple of chairs, press play, and get to talking. I pulled together all kinds of artists and styles for this Thanksgiving playlist, from Pennywise (yeah, I went there) and the completely feel-good track "Let 'Em Say" from Caroline Smith & Lizzo to Billie Holiday and Fleet Foxes.
Be sure to share your own holiday go-tos in the comments. I know there's some good Christmas music out there somewhere.
WRITTEN BY CHAD TAYLOR
If there's anything we've all learned from '90s era Disney films, it's that there's a circle to life. Something dies, something else lives on. Continuing that metaphor, if House of Bricks is Des Moines' Mufasa, then The Maw is that crazy monkey, lifting young Simba up for all to see.
This weekend, House of Bricks plays host to its last rock/metal show ever. The king is dead, long live the king, and all that. It's a shame to see something that's been such a huge part of the music scene in town pass along, but that's the nature of things.
“The place was my home when I first moved here,” said Maw piano man/Trumpet God Erik Brown. “I've worked three different jobs there, and I've had my hand in getting other bands that are outside the normal booking practices in there.”
“(But) it's like an athlete that won't retire,” he continued. “It's like 'it's time to move on', but it just won't. It's kind of painful to watch it as it is now. We were looking at the books from 2005, and there were 35 shows there a month, and they were killer bands. It just isn't that (now).”
When People's closed a couple years ago, owner Tom Zmolek mentioned in an interview with Juice that music promotion is a young man's game. He'd just gotten burned out on the dance, and didn't want to do it anymore (He's back doing it now, but we're all entitled to change our minds.).Read More
Written by Kensie Smith
Even the title of Caroline Smith’s 2013-released album is intimately intriguing, “Half About Being a Woman.” Approximately 127 thoughts rush through the mind between first glance at Smith’s Jekyll-and-Hyde black and white cover face and the end of the first track, “Bloodstyle.” What does being a woman mean? How do I see women? How am I a woman? Is this how all women feel? It is an album that makes you think while zoning out to the 30 minutes wide, nine tracks deep of beats meant to play on repeat. It is a danceable, cryable, soulful album of graying love shades.
Speaking with Smith, even over the phone, is like curling up on the couch with a friend. A bottle of wine, half about devouring dark chocolate and discussing the men who stayed and the ones we left. The conversation she brings to the table is one of a incessant echo of the album, one of self-empowerment, “We got everything here, how could you ever leave” and wishing about how our bohemian beaus would “buy me something, my love ain’t free.” The album is a testament to Smith’s assentation into her own womanhood.Read More
It's Thursday, which means that it's time for our weekly update on KCWI's Great Day!
This week, Chad covers Little Big Fest, some upcoming festival information, and new CD releases. Then, be sure to check us out live at 7:30 am every Thursday!
This week on 99.1 KFMG's Critical Mass, Joe Lawler and I talk about the health of local music venues, what constitutes a GOOD venue, and how it all fits together in Des Moines. Then, Chris Ford drops by to talk about Little Big Fest, which goes down this weekend. Music provided by Brother Trucker and William Elliot Whitmore!