Archive for the 'Albums' Category

New Music: Tilly and the Wall announce new album

Cause for legit rejoicing looking forward to the summer: Mission Creek 07 vets Tilly and the Wall have announced the impending release of their third full-length, bound for retail shelves all over the world on June 17th. O is the band’s first record since 2006 and once again will be released on Team Love. Kinda unrelated, but it’s worth mentioning that Tilly was the first band to sign to the Conor Oberst-conceived label back in 2003. They’ve toured their collective arses off since then, and have to at least assume that this helps explain the lengthy break from recording. Last year alone they visited Iowa City twice, not to mention their three (3!) trips to Europe.

The band recently put out a 7″ of the non-album track “Beat Control,” but today marked the first official word on the release of the album. You can download the first song made available, “Cacophony,” right here. The band just wrapped up a brief tour alongside recent Mission Creek performers Capgun Coup, and have no dates presently scheduled, but you can bet that with a new album they’ll be blowing up your town in the near future.

Download: Tilly and the Wall - Cacophony [from the forthcoming O, out June 17 on Team Love]

Justify My Love: El Guincho

I can’t lie: since living in Spain some years ago, I’ve had a tremendous affinity for all aspects of its culture. So on this wintry mix of a night in Iowa City, I feel obligated to bring you the exuberant pop of El Guincho, a single dude named Pablo Diaz-Reixa out of Barcelona (for the love of all things holy, please just go there if you ever have the chance) who gets his Panda Bear on, among other things, in the most festive and outgoing way possible. It’s only fitting that Pau Gasol dropped 24 and 12 on the Nets in his Lakers debut tonight. Maybe he was listening to El Guincho antes del juego.

You can stream the whole thing from El Guincho’s Myspace, but why not hit up some downloadable tracks below? Apparently it was released sometime during ‘07 via a label called Discoteca Océano, which is also a Spanish-language blog. I, for one, am beyond obsessed with this though I don’t really get it. The total mish-mash of Tropicalia, 60s sunshine pop, world music, and sampling is getting me through this winter mess.

Download: El Guincho - Palmitos Park

Download: El Guincho - Cuando Maravilla Fui

Release Calendar: February

This February is an exceptionally strong month, despite two of its four release Tuesdays bearing almost nothing. Either way, there are a bevy of excellent releases to look forward to, including Lightspeed Champion’s Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, which we erroneously included on our January release calendar. It’s the debut solo work of the former Test Icicle Devonte Hynes, and though he hails from the UK, he spent his time cutting the record in Omaha with Saddle Creek wizard Mike Mogis and other members of the SC posse. Other highlights include Grand Archives‘ self-titled debut for Sub Pop. The band features former Band of Horses members, and they’ll be appearing at our own Picador on March 6. And of course, we are beyond giddy about the Headlights darling new record of indie-pop gems: Some Racing, Some Stopping out Feb. 19th on Polyvinyl. Keep checking back, as more releases may see the light of day in the coming weeks and I’ll be continuing to update. At the very least, there’s a certain controversially titled Nas album that’s rumored to be out this month. Click on the link below to see the calendar.

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Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #1

Here we are at the end of our celebration of the best 2007 had to offer in music. Thanks for reading. We’ve come a long way in the 2 months since we started, and have big plans for the coming year. Hopefully you’ll all stay with us in 2008. We’ve got some really awesome things on the way, including the 2008 Mission Creek Music Fest. More details on that are forthcoming. You won’t hear from us again until December 29, so until then, please have a safe and happy holidays. Now, without further ado:

Continue reading ‘Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #1′

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #2

#2 :: Menomena - Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
When Menomena burst out of Portland and into popular consciousness with 2004’s illuminating I Am the Fun Blame Monster, two things became immediately clear: this band has a great sense of humor (the title is an anagram for “Menomena’s first album”), and this band makes music that doesn’t sound like anything else. What became clear much later was that this band is comprised entirely of nice guys. I had a chance to meet Brent Knopf at SXSW, and Danny Seim seemingly goes out of his way to hook up cokemachineglow, whether it be for interviews or cover songs. When I found out that Friend and Foe was nominated for a Grammy for best packaging you bet I was excited. As the crowds get bigger (I saw them in 2004 with about 20 people in Pittsburgh art gallery and in 2007 at a sold-out showcase in Austin) they seem to stay the same. But the music, that music, it too keeps growing.

What is it about the Menomena sound? It’s the saxophones, or it’s the drums, or it’s the keys, or the sheer impossibility that only three guys are making so much sound. The thing about “the Menomena sound” is that it shifts around on you, dancing like Ali in the ring: a beautiful and violent performance. Take second track, “The Pelican,” which starts with an end-of-the-world piano line and vocals. It’s a deliberately stark arrangement that highlights the menace of the song: “take it from the hook / while it’s still kicking.” Then, at 56 seconds in, all hell breaks loose. A mean, bent guitar note, and furious drumming kick into the next section, but don’t get comfortable. Just a minute later the song strips all the way down to just guitar, a heavenly chorus of sorts kicks in, and the whole mess just repeats itself. This is a three and half minute song.

Like any album that deserves “best of year” accolades, there are no weak tracks here, though some shine brighter than others. “Wet and Rusting” was the single released way back in 2006, and still kicks ass; “Weird” relies on a seriously fuzzed out bass synth line that tenuously holds the album’s first half to it’s equally stellar second. “Rotten Hell” contains the album’s most sublime moment, a vocal breakdown that escalates into an anthem about street fighting and perseverance. Album opener “Muscle ‘N Flo,” addresses some of the band’s newfound fame, and is available for your listening pleasure below. But here is all you need to know: “I’m not young / but I’m not through.” I sure hope not, dudes. (Craig)

Download: Menomena - Muscle ‘n Flo

Buy it here.
Barsuk Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #3

#3 :: David Karsten Daniels - Sharp Teeth (Fat Cat)
Much earlier in 2007, when the fields were fallow and the most bitter cold engulfed the plains, Sharp Teeth unraveled itself as a brief masterwork of human emotion. Not on the first, nor the second listen, but gradually, in the same way that intricate relationships are formed this record took hold of me and has yet to release me from its arresting glow. Combining minimal folk with expansive post-rock stylings, David Karsten Daniels has created a work at times barren and at others bathing in warmth that runs the gamut of human emotion. From the jubilant drone of “The Dream Before the Ring Awoke Me” to the ominous build of “Minnows,” Daniels has made a record as affecting as any I’ve ever heard.

“The Dream…” begins the album with the refrain of “There is a joy that you can’t contain/There is a feeling you just can’t explain,” accompanied by the lush instrumentation provided by his myriad friends that accompanied him in the recording. However, following this opening high point, Daniels takes us through a treatise on the inevitability of human nature. To be concise: they’re going to let you down. On “American Pastime,” there’s a quality oddly reminiscent of Malkmus as he compares his relationship to wartime: an utter lack of honesty and misunderstanding leads to his gruesome and yet seemingly inescapable fate: “In my fear and in my haste/Your willingness I would mistake as you quickly reaching for your knife/Oh I’d pepper bullets across your spine.”

Much of the album contains similarly gory themes of mistrust and betrayal, which represent an uglier side of ourselves than we may always want to admit. But this isn’t Daniels’ effort to get on a soapbox of self-pity. It’s intensely personal but viewed through a prism of wider scope. I had a girlfriend once who couldn’t understand why I was attracted to sad music, but as I’ve aged, I see now that it isn’t the sadness that draws me but rather the presentation. And on Sharp Teeth, I find Daniels’ reflecting on some human condition. As he sings on the standout track “Beast,” “You’re gonna have to look the beast in the face.” (todd)

Download: David Karsten Daniels - Beast
Buy it here
David Karsten Daniels
Fat Cat Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #4

#4 :: The Field
From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt, 2007)

The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime does for minimal (or micro) house what St. Germain’s Tourist (2000) did for jazzy house: it positions itself as an indisputable classic within its genre, appealing to both electronica heads and fringe listeners. Why would you want anything more when the Field’s got everything covered? This record is a celebration of nuance and patience, its tracks unfolding like expanding puzzles. Each successive sample or synth line reveals unforeseen aural depths and tells us just a bit more about the ever-progressive structures of these songs: each piece is a linear journey beginning with restraint and ending with the kitchen sink. At moments the ascent is logical, like the steady build of “Good Things End” and other times it’s fascinating to witness tracks — “Sun & Ice” — quite literally devour themselves. The irony of this record is how it turns the name of its own genre — minimal house — on its head. While casual listens allow you to slip into mellow personal nooks, close attention proves that the Field is anything but minimal; these tracks are loaded with precision, the sonic detail is astonishing. I can already feel this review, in its efforts to do its subject justice, sounding like head-talk or the prose of music critics and academics. Fuck that. At its essence From Here We Go Sublime is subtle and enjoyable house music, less interested in the club-rocking ecstasy peaks of populist brand name DJs than in the magic of personal interaction with sound. This is the retreat from Ibiza or the descent from Fabric. It’s taking the party home to its intimate roots: back to your apartment with your closest friends. (Andre)

Download: The Field - Mobilia

Buy it here.
The Field
Kompakt Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #5

Now that we exhausted ourselves thinking about the blissful nights of music that made Iowa City hot this year, it’s time to take a step back and look at our favorite albums of the year. These are truly the 5 albums that made us continue our faith that there’s no shortage of great music in this world, and probably never will be. Sometimes you just need to know where to look, but sometimes - be it fate or coincidence - that music finds you. Either way, taste can be extremely subjective, but these were the albums that made our year, and we hope to share them with you. We’re kicking off with our fifth favorite album today and will be counting them down, one a day all week to ease you through your finals. Procrastinating? We’ll be here.

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Freak Focus: DRI

(Introducing ‘Freak Focus’. This is where we take a moment to highlight some of our favorite Midwest artists through album reviews, interviews, or full-on adoration.)


Nimble skittering beats, lush dub-atmospherics, and a lovely drone of a voice. This and more to be found on DRI’s debut album, Smoke Rings (Range Life, 2007). While this chanteuse cut her indie teeth playing with Freak favorites, Fourth of July and Art in Manila (Orenda Fink), this record is her own trip. From the head-bobbing, acid-reggae flavor of “Don’t Wait”to the eerie cathedral reverb of “Two Are One”, it’s clearly a head trip. This is the music of lazy-afternoons, summer top-down cruising, and those nether-hour moments at the post-post-party when some cute hanger-on is dancing on your lap blowing rings of pot smoke around your early morning desires. How such sounds reveal themselves in the live setting remains to be seen. So until Wednesday (when she opens for the Headlights at the Picador), we suggest you slip some of DRI’s tracks onto your mp3 player. Let them softly slide you around this ice-storm of a city that we live in.

DRI on Myspace

Download: Dri - Don’t Wait

Download: Dri - You Know I Tried

The Poison Control Center - A Collage of Impressions

Back in September, Ames quartet and Mission Creek vets the Poison Control Center dropped their new record A Collage of Impressions via Minneapolis indie label Afternoon Records. However, according to their recent Myspace blog, the album hasn’t been in stores because they haven’t had the proper nationwide distribution for it. All that’s about to change today, when A Collage ought to be in finer record retailers across the country. Consider December 4th the release date then, even though the record has technically been out for a good two months.

The new album was recorded in Rock Island, IL at the Daytrotter studio with Patrick Stolley, and as such it is totally awesome (it is impossible to imagine otherwise given the circumstances).

The PCC will be on tour this January beginning on New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis. Dates below.

Grab the songs from their recent Daytrotter session here.

And if that’s not enough, check out the slightly Okkervil River sounding “Don’t Go” and the vaguely Bright Eyes tinged “Park Slope.”

Download: The Poison Control Center - Don’t Go

Download: The Poison Control Center - Park Slope

12/31 - Minneapolis, MN Nomad World Pub 9PM
01/03 - Chicago, IL Silent Rehearsal Studio 2PM
01/03 - Chicago, IL Schubas 9PM
01/04 - Dayton, OH Nite Owl 9PM
01/05 - Cincinatti, OH Northside Tavern 10PM
01/06 - Lexington, KY The Dame 9PM
01/08 - Knoxville, TN World Grotto 9PM
01/09 - Athens, GA Caledonia Lounge 9PM
01/11 - Shreveport, LA Jack Rabbitt Lounge 8PM
01/12 - Denton, TX Rubber Gloves 9PM
01/15 - Lincoln, NE Box Awesome 8PM
01/16 - Omaha, NE O’leavers 8PM
01/17 - Iowa City, IA The Mill 9PM
01/18 - Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews 8PM
01/18 - Iowa City, IA The Java House - Radio 8PM
02/16 - Minneapolis, MN The Beat Coffee House 8PM