SPIN cover boys Das Racist returned to Iowa City. @heems
Been a second but I wanted to make sure I got at least one post in while it was still technically October. Posting could be even lighter in the weeks and months ahead, but for those few of you who check this page regularly, you can always see links to new reviews and other long-form writing in the right-hand column there. And yes, I realize those have been coming more slowly recently, too, but there's plenty of my stuff at SPIN.com every morning these days if you're interested.

I stood very far back for Neon Indian in Ames.
It's probably too late already but there's a really strong local show tonight at Vaudeville Mews. Ames bands Mumford's and Wheelers are holding their 7" release party, with Ames' own Volcano Boys and former Ames man and now downtown Des Moines resident Patrick Tape Fleming (of the Poison Control Center) opening.

Kreayshawn #Ames #feltold #didnthateGucciGucci
Other upcoming stuff I'm looking forward to below the jump: Wilco! Lydia Loveless! Kinky Friedman! Bob Seger! Reel Big Fish! The Lemonheads! Meat Puppets! Big Sean! Patrick Stump! The triumphant return of the Autumn Project! Plus, I'm still working on my third-quarter report (more like third trimester at this point, I realize!) but I posted my latest round of eMusic radio station tracks at the very bottom of this page, too -- lots of music I really like on there, although it's limited to stuff that's (a) available on eMusic and (b) somehow in my mind justifiable within a loose definition of my eMusic station's "indie rock" mandate.

Pretty Lights, Val Air #mademefeelevenolderthankreayshawn
Hey, Chet Boom, if I'm forgetting some shows this time, just tell me!

No seriously #prettylights #somehowgirltalksurelyistoblame



Grandma, drill little holes into my eyelids...
On Friday night, Canadian electronic pop act Purity Ring played the late show at Vaudeville Mews. It was only the second tour date for the duo of 23-year-old singer Megan James and 20-year-old 21-year-old (that night was his birthday) beatmaker Corin Roddick, after a stop in Champaign, Ill., the night before, but they were already having a big day. That morning, Pitchfork (full disclosure: one of the publications I write for) ran an interview with the band under the website's buzz-generating "Rising" tag. It was the first time I'd been able to find key information on James and Roddick, such as their names, or the fact that they're originally from Edmonton but now live in Halifax and Montreal, respectively. Along with the article, Pitchfork also shared "Belispeak," which is only the third publicly available song from the group. But those first two songs, "Ungirthed" and "Lofticries"-- the two sides of a 7" that has long since sold out-- were already almost ridiculously impressive, combining the woozy, bass-heavy wobble of Southern hip-hop with the eerie lyrics and pitch-warped vocals of futuristic Swedish duo the Knife to create a new kind of head-nodding, captivating dream-pop. And Purity Ring will be joining another band that evolved from nebulous blogger praise into a pair of legitimately satisfying (and, in the case of 2009's Psychic Chasms, somewhat zeitgeist-capturing) albums, Alan Palomo's Neon Indian, on tour this fall. So getting an early glimpse of them at a small venue here in Des Moines, away from any annoying blogger's crappy phone camera but my own, was a real treat.

Purity Ring didn't disappoint. Sure, there were the expected hiccups, such as the fact that the volume was way too low, so that during quiet moments you could sometimes hear outdoor DJ Alex Brown's reggae wafting in through the door. And I definitely can't tell you the lyrics or much else of interest about any of the new songs we heard; they all sound pretty much like the three we've already heard, and for now, that's wonderful-- we could definitely use a whole album like this. But what I can tell you is that Purity Ring's live show, in keeping with its releases so far, feels like the product of far more forethought than we'd typically expect from such a young band. It turned out that my crappy phone camera was almost useless, because the band performed mostly in the dark, with intermittent stuttering flashes of onstage lights. They played in front of their own big, multi-colored backdrop-- which I don't remember much about, sorry-- with James on one side, roaming the stage and threatening to bang on a giant gong, while Roddick was on the other side of the stage hunched over a variety of electronics. The turnout was light, but passionate, all assembled up in front, even bartender Clint Curtis, who usually hates everything but that night was front row center waving his hand in the air. Purity Ring played the three songs we know, James' sweet lilt transmogrifying into a goblin groan over Roddick's shuddering rhythms. They played a few songs we didn't know. And when it was over, we cried out for an encore. As with Tennis when that band played here well in advance of its own album, James was forced to admit the group just didn't have any more songs. Basemint Design was on hand selling a Purity Ring poster, and the band itself had brought tank tops, but no records yet (a split 7" with Braids is due next month on Fat Possum). I bought a poster, and a tank top, and then the nice folks from Basemint Design were kind enough to call me back over so I could exchange my tank top for Purity Ring's one remaining T-shirt. #wearitwithpride

The headliner of the early show, metal band Nachtmystium, unfortunately canceled.

Purity Ring, slightly more visible here.
Eagle-eyed reader and Des Moines' own king of the mustache Shane O'Brien reminds me of another glaring omission from my recent list of upcoming shows: Rap trio Das Racist plays the Blue Moose in Iowa City on October 21. I still need to get tickets, but I definitely plan to be there, and maybe even head up to Chicago the next day for a Northwestern football game if I'm lucky.

Christopher the Conquered
I also had the great pleasure and privilege of getting to play records a couple of nights in the past week. The first was outdoors at Vaudeville Mews' PBR Bar on Saturday night-- huge thanks to Ladd Askland for booking me and to T.J. Wood, who (good for him, terrible for us) will be moving to New Orleans shortly, for putting up with me and for keeping me supplied with Sazerac. (Another upcoming date: T.J.'s Last Stand takes place Saturday, September 10, at the Vaud, with the Powerplant, Wolves in the Attic, Dustin Smith & the Sunday Silos, Gadema, and DJ Richie Daggers.) And then, on Tuesday night, the Poison Control Center's Patrick Tape Fleming held his birthday party at the Vaudeville Mews, with really fun sets from out-of-town indie-poppers Fishboy and their Sam Cooke-quoting, accordion-toting member Googleplexia, plus locals Christopher the Conquered, Wolves in the Attic, Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires, and, in a rare appearance, January Rabbit. Between sets, I got to go upstairs and spin records. Thanks so much to Patrick for asking me to participate, to Logan Christian on sound for all his help, and to Brody for working the bar downstairs.

After the jump, full track lists of my sets, with links to streams:



Bratty punk duo Slutever played the Mews last week, were fun.
There have been some noteworthy shows around here recently that I wasn't able to give enough attention on the blog, such as Mantis Pincers' tape release party and Bright Eyes' weirdly belated Des Moines debut. And there should be some interesting stuff coming up before it gets too cold-- off the top of my head, my potential highlights: New York indie-poppers the Drums, mysterious electronic poppers Purity Ring (who are also touring with Neon Indian, and whose "Ungirthed" 7" I really wish I had bought before it sold out), the Seed of Something's tape release party, Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance (just because), Yelawolf, Explosions in the Sky, maybe Pretty Lights or Bassnectar (dubsteppy dudes), Gillian Welch.

Oh yeah, and I'm DJing outside at the PBR bar a second time on Aug. 27, which is free; I'll also be DJing inside between sets Aug. 30 for Patrick Tape Fleming's birthday party, headlined by Fishboy, a night that will be a highlight for sure, my record selections notwithstanding...

As always, please don't hesitate to tell me what I'm missing!

UPDATE: The indefatigable Chet Boom has reminded me I forgot about Ames and Grinnell. Which is a pretty big omission, considering the M Shop in Ames is getting Cymbals Eat Guitars (with Hooray for Earth, who I recently reviewed for eMusic) and Braids, and Grinnell College is bringing Dan Deacon, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bass Drum of Death, and Dam-Funk, among others.



Slanted and enchanted.
It's been an eventful several weeks, not that you'd know it by my recent posting around here. Since Des Moines' own 80/35 Music Festival on July 4 weekend, I've been to Chicago twice, first for the Pitchfork Music Festival and then this past weekend for Lollapalooza (which I'd actually never been to before).

What direction should we choose?
At Pitchfork, I wrote a quick little thing about tUnE-YarDs, but the real highlight for me was Deerhunter, who, OK, I'm definitely a huge fanboy for,  but the way they'd just string maybe three of their songs together and then stretch them out into space-rock jams, confident the crowd would go along with them but not totally oblivious to audience reaction like the ultra-boring Animal Collective a night earlier, well, it was just fantastic, and singer/guitarist Bradford Cox didn't really say much, but at one point I remember him complaining about those "fucking crypto-fascists," which was already hilarious and the kind of thing you want your noise-rock icons to say, but then he followed it by adding, "I don't know what that means; I was just trying to sound smart." Fleet Foxes, who headlined the second night, were also awesome, every bit as amazing as on record-- such gorgeous harmonies, and it felt like every song they picked was one I liked more than the last. "Oh, man, I don't think it's going to get better than that. Oh, wait, THIS song? I love this song!"

La cocaina no es buena para su salud.
At Lollapalooza, I was there as a member of the press, covering the event with the hard-working, very cool team from SPIN magazine. They'd all done this together before at Bonnaroo, but were kind enough to welcome me into the fold. Skin-reddening sun, wallet-destroying rain, Pete Wentz: I saw it all. For SPIN.com, I wrote about Kid Cudi, Arctic Monkeys, the Cars, Lia Ices, Titus Andronicus, Lykke Li, Beirut, Local Natives, Mayer Hawthorne, Friendly Fires, Disappears, Ratatat, A Perfect Circle, White Lies, Foster the People, Naked and Famous, Ryan Leslie, and Crystal Castles. (I guess I'd especially recommend the posts on BeirutLocal Natives, Crystal CastlesTitus Andronicus, Foster the People, and Lykke Li, in that order.)

Sweat drips from your pores like the falls of Niagara. 
As of today, I can also share an online radio station that eMusic has allowed me to put together. The genre is nominally "indie rock," but they've kindly let me take a pretty expansive view of that genre, encompassing electronic music, hip-hop, and some local favorites along with archetypal indie bands. There was other stuff I might've included, because not every label is in eMusic's catalogue these days, but I think there's still a lot here to enjoy. The songs are on shuffle, but you can see the full selection after the jump:



This happened.

So I DJed-- believe it or not, for the first time ever-- on Saturday night at the bar in the alley outside my favorite downtown Des Moines music venue, Vaudeville Mews. The space is actually called the PBR bar, because Pabst Blue Ribbon sponsored its renovation (and my DJing gig, too!). Apparently, the Mews sells the most PBR in all of Iowa, which I guess is a distinction of some sort. Anyway, thank you so much to T.J. Wood, Ladd Askland, and Vaudeville Mews for making this happen, to Bob N. for sharing his turntable (it turned out I only used mine), to the Poison Control Center for not one but two typically amazing sets (something like the 265th and 266th of their "never-ending tour"), and to all my wonderful friends who came out and danced.

Here's the setlist (though please note, a few of these I didn't play in their entirety):



Huge, huge thanks to friend (and professional graphic designer) Emily Phipps for the new Des Noise banner.

She also provides all the graphics for another local site, the great Nothing Gets Crossed Out.



Let's have bizarre celebrations.
So the fourth annual 80/35 Music Festival looks to have been a resounding success. You can read Joe Lawler's reports on Saturday and Sunday's activities over at the Des Moines Register. Looks like the fest handily passed its break-even point, helped this year by gorgeous weather on Saturday, and organizer Amedeo Rossi is already planning a sequel next July. My friends Andy and Ryan over at We Hate Music also have photos from days one and two, and I imagine Josh or Jessie will probably post something over at Nothing Gets Crossed Out.

A little-known highlight was probably the after-shows at the back bar outside the Vaudeville Mews; if you didn't go this year, definitely try to check them out in 2012. Set up against weathered-brick downtown buildings, the space looked great, and it sounded surprisingly good, too, giving the music some more room to breathe than in the Mews itself. Plus, on Saturday, the place was basically packed. Wolves in the Attic, who'd had equipment problems earlier in the day, got their chance at anthemic noise-rock redemption, while Mantis Pincers were able to whip up some of their cosmic cooking for an audience that somehow still had energy to keep on dancing. On Sunday night, festival headliners Of Montreal's own Kevin Barnes was out there DJing.

Happy Independence Day! I don't have much else to write at the moment, but some of my trademark fan's-view blurry phone pics are below. As Titus Andronicus's Patrick Stickles remarked from the main stage, "It's hard to be humble when you're on the Jumbotron." As Des Noise pal Travis said to a bearded guy who wasn't Patrick Stickles at the after-show (because Titus totally had to drive 20 hours to New Jersey immediately after playing), "Nice set!"



Hey, look! Prompt for once.

A ridiculously incomplete, highly subjective selection of stuff I've been enjoying this year that didn't already appear on my previous quarterly report.



I got life pretty much the way I want it.
It's been a longer while than usual since I saw a show around here. But I did see one in NYC last weekend, when my wife and I made a quick trip back to visit some of our favorite people and places; I wrote about that gig here. It was this teenage band from Copenhagen called Iceage, who churn up a wiry, abrasive squall that works just about perfectly on their short 'n' sweet debut. I was possibly going to see them play in Denmark but my passport had expired. Then I was talking about seeing them in Brooklyn but realized it was sold out and I didn't want to over-schedule our trip. When I got the chance to review the show professionally, I figured I must be fated to see this band somehow, right? Anyway, expect to hear their name again.

I did miss a really promising show back in Des Moines, though. Locals Wolves in the Attic were playing the release party for the cassette reissue of Electronic Hearts, their 2009 debut album. The original release (on Iowa City label Mission Freak) came in cut-out copies of old books; the new tape, from Vaudeville Mews booker Ladd Askland's new Red Nude Tapes label, not only nicely suits the band's mixtape-friendly noise pop, it's also lighter to carry around. (I also missed Waxeater, with Police Teeth, the Seed of Something, and Pocket Aristotle.)

But there are still a lot of upcoming live shows worth noting here, including the Des Moines Arts Festival (the Smitheereens, the Envy Corps), the 80/35 Music Festival (among my personal faves are Titus Andronicus, Okkervil River, and Jessica Lea Mayfield), Bright Eyes (who never plays Des Moines), the Strange Boys, Orgone, Colourmusic, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, Explosions in the Sky, Nashville Pussy, Blink-182 with My Chemical Romance, Ames "gypsy punk" band Mumford's album release party (also the debut of vinyl-only label Maximum Ames), and the return doubleheader of local indie kids the Poison Control Center.

What am I missing? Any shows worth driving to in other towns?



Shane thinks Love Songs for Lonely Monsters are sweet.
Jonathan Richman was punctual. We arrived at the Orpheum Stage Door in Madison, Wisconsin, just a few minutes after the show's 8 p.m. start time, and the former Modern Lovers frontman-- the guy lots of people seem most likely to recognize if I say, "He was the singing guitar player in There's Something About Mary"-- and his longtime drummer Tommy Larkins were already well into a song about a painter, or the joy of music, or how the very ways we seek to criticize art/music/life and put it into words and lists and numbers tend to miss what makes art/music/life most wonderful in the first place.



So you hope that one person can solve everything.
A pair of highly complementary singer-songwriters came to Vaudeville Mews on Saturday night. Damien Jurado, from Seattle, has this high, lonesome voice that perfectly suits his mournful, meditative folk songs. San Francisco-based John Vanderslice has a more conversational type of voice, keeping the focus on his vivid, finely wrought storytelling, as you might expect from a guy who has worked with word-smart veterans like the Mountain Goats and Death Cab for Cutie. Both Jurado, the opener, and Vanderslice, the headliner, put on riveting performances in front of a mostly rapt and hushed crowd that paid $15 a ticket, in comparison with the $5 to $10 most of the shows I go to cost.



Ciroc and Sprite on a private flight.
A bunch of shows have been added-- Bangladesh! E-40! The Blow! The triumphant debut of massively hyped local supergroup Mantis Pincers! Wheels on Fire! The Poison Control Center's record release party! Lovers! Wiz Khalifa! All Tiny Creatures! Bright Eyes, people!-- and I've been to a few shows I haven't covered here yet. Let's recap and look forward all at once.

As Bill Murray says in a movie I thought I'd never seen but once we got halfway through watching it last night I realized I'd totally seen it before: The past is done, the future isn't here yet, so I guess all we have is the present.



He's human, I'm human, you human.
So usually I try to limit my quarterly reports to albums and tracks that technically came out in the previous three months. But I always post these things waaay late. And release dates matter less than ever. So please consider this a provisional "best of 2011 list"-- with huge omissions, I'm sure-- dated as of... now?



They're just photos, after all. 
Earlier this month Nick Southall, who wrote for sadly defunct webzine Stylus, unveiled The Music Diary Project. The project's worthy goal is "to document, over the course of one week, how we listen to music: when we listen, where we listen, who we’re with when we listen, and how we choose what we listen to." This week a whole bunch of smart people I follow on Tumblr have been participating, dutifully posting listening logs and sharing their experiences. It's a great idea, and while I'm far too neurotic to take part, it's been a lot of fun seeing not only what people are listening to, but how they listen.

On Day Two of the project, Australian writer Jonathan Bradley posted some observations I found myself copying and pasting into my own media-consumption diary of sorts-- this weird little blog. Most of Bradley's music listening is solitary, he says. He writes that "I just don't give a fuck if I can't share music with other people, because usually I don't. I listen to a ton of stuff, and most of it I know of no other person who shares my liking for the music, just because I have my taste and other people have theirs and the two don’t need to meet for us to be friends... The music I listen to is for me, and it doesn’t worry me if I’m not sharing it."

These comments started me thinking. How much of my listening is solitary in the same way? How much is driven by this mad urge to share, share, share?



A hustler is a female version of a hustler.
Last night at a sold-out Yacht Club in Iowa City, Das Racist hype man Ashok Kondabolu, aka Dap, surfed the crowd with his face just inches beneath a sweaty ceiling you could reach with your hand. When the audience coordinated an "encore!" chant, San Francisco native Victor Vazquez, aka Kool A.D., hopped back up on stage. Did Queens-born Himanshu Suri, aka Heems, join him to do "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," the hilariously on-point Yum Brands farce that first had mp3-downloaders chuckling their pescado breath, shaking their pizza butts ("No, that's where I'm at-- where you at?")? Heck no. Somebody put on M.I.A.'s New Year's Eve mixtape, Vicki Leekx, and one last dance party broke out, with Vazquez in the middle. There was a huge cheer. I went to a place called Pizza on Dubuque and bought more slices than I could eat.



Ford trucks, apple pies, bald eagles!
The winter chill for shows around here is over. Highlights for me in the next few months include Iron & Wine, John Vanderslice with Damien Jurado, the sixth annual Gross Domestic Product local music festival, the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City (I'll definitely be making it out there for at least Das Racist), Queens of the Stone Age, Taylor Swift, the Poison Control Center, Christopher the Conquered, Wolves in the Attic, Mark Mallman with Portland Seattle indie dudes BOAT, Rural Albert Advantage (in Ames), Woodsman, Giant Cloud, I Was Totally Destroying It with locals Cashes Rivers and Parlours, Birds & Batteries, and a lot more (Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, the Seed of Something, Rhonda Is a Dead Bitch, and on and on). What am I missing?



I was up all night with squares and pentagrams.
"Don't get too close to the artists" is probably the number one rule of being an occasionally professional music-criticky type person. That's always been a huge priority for me, too. In the early days, like 2003 and 2004, before lots of people had my e-mail address or would want to use it for anything even if they did, PopMatters would send me a batch of CDs I knew next to nothing about, or I would get ahold of albums for Pitchfork reviews based on them being assigned to me (not me asking for them). So it was easy to disconnect yourself from the people making the records. I was your stereotypical blogger in his bedroom, typing by night for an audience I didn't know, about bands I definitely didn't know, often not even via the weird proxy of e-mail conversations with publicists. Sure, there'd be the occasional hiccup, like when my lifelong buddy Matt Wright was an awesome music publicist or eventual manager for Blitzen Trapper (linked article predates Matt's manager-ship, thank goodness); I always feel like it's unfair for me to write about bands if I know there's no way I would feel comfortable saying anything really mean about them, when there are so many other bands who don't have any personal connection with me and wouldn't have that advantage (sometimes getting really mean things written about them). Even if I thought I would like the band's record no matter what, that I was totally uninfluenced by anything personal, man-- how can you be sure? What if bias is built in subconsciously, so you can be totally off-base and not even realize it, just as in so many other areas of life? Exactly what level of detachment is acceptable to ensure you're really giving readers as objective an evaluation as possible, and does it really make sense to demand objectivity when it comes to something as personal and subjective as pop music, underground music, whatever? Do I like How to Dress Well because I like How to Dress Well, or do I like How to Dress Well because we both like Shai?  I struggle with this still.

The more you get involved in writing about music, the more involved you get in the quote-unquote music industry-- which was the last thing I ever wanted (if there are two types of music writers-- those who get into music writing so they can be a part of the music industry, and those who get into music writing so they can be a part of writing-- I've always liked to think of myself as the latter). You wind up exchanging e-mails with small-scale artists who you really like and who really could benefit from your kind words. You talk with publicists, do-it-yourself record label owners. You see your reviews having real-life negative effects on people who don't seem like jerks. You don't want to be a jerk, either. You especially don't want to punish someone for the absolutely heinous artistic crime of being really, really nice and not annoying. But you still gotta try to stay detached, objective, because the people listening out there in internet land don't share even that modicum of industry baggage, and because you're a critic. Somehow, living in Brooklyn, I didn't really know many people in bands, at least not people that I didn't know first from work or school-- even though I did accidentally make Sufjan Stevens wait once to use the men's room, and I'm pretty sure that one guy on Avenue A in 2004 or 2005 was really Ryan Adams because isn't "no, but I get that all the time" just the sort of thing Ryan Adams would tell the stranger in front of you who also thought he looked like Ryan Adams, and I guess the National and members of the Hold Steady and Elephant 6 mainstay/Lil Wayne touring bassist Heather McIntosh from the Instruments (who I met because I heard her talking American-accented English in the crowd during Radiohead's main stage set in Roskilde, Denmark, where she was playing bass the next day in Gnarls Barkley's band) all also lived in my old neighborhood. Sorry if that  comes off name-droppy, because the point is just the opposite: I know I'm not potentially too close to the artists.

This is a great year for feeling potentially too close to the artists.



Could you deliver a message to my mom and dad?
There's something weirdly revealing about seeing a band play an under-attended weeknight show in Des Moines. The great ones, like Sweden's Love Is All, thrive on the energy what little audience is in attendance throws their way, making for an intimate, unforgettable experience. Others, like L.A.'s Dum Dum Girls, strut around like they're too big to be here, as Christopher Owens from tourmates Girls-- who really did think his band was too big to be here and decided to skip that stop on the tour, but showed up in the audience anyway-- wanders around in a hunched pose with a weasel-ish expression. There's probably a famous quote out there I'm not remembering about how when bands play New York, they know they're playing for an audience that sees a ton of bands come through, so they have to put on their best show; seeing bands in Des Moines gives you an idea how they might play when they think hardly anyone is looking.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Fergus & Geronimo, a Denton, Texas-based duo who have since resettled in Brooklyn. When I interviewed them for eMusic, at first I was afraid our conversation was going to look pretty boring in Q&A form-- that is, until I played back the tape and realized they were actually sort of hilarious, just mostly at my expense (I'm the guy who, as they touted how much they supposedly love sports and claimed they moved to New York City because the New York Jets had won the Super Bowl-- think about that for a second-- said something like, "Oh man, there's not enough indie-rock bands or whatever you want to call them that are into sports-- I mean, I love sports!"). But their debut album, Unlearn, on Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art, is a smart, sardonic update on plenty of classic 1960s garage rock and pop, the kind of record that might throw you off at first with its heavy irony and primitive feel but really grows on you as you find yourself noticing more and more details. So I was curious how they'd respond to a Monday evening crowd in Des Moines.

The crowd last night was even thinner than I might have expected, with not a lot of guys and only one woman in the audience. Ames-based openers Nuclear Rodeo put on another solid set of sort of Weezer-ish power-pop, maybe a little louder and more raucous this time, and joined by a keyboard player, but-- well, Mondays are Mondays, and I guess most people's friends were like my wife, or Chet Boom's girlfriend, or Ben and Travis and Moffitt, who had to work early in the next morning or were out of town or whatever. But I was happy to find that Fergus & Geronimo still put on a really fun set for the modest sausage party that was there. Jason Kelly, aka Geronimo, has big glasses and slightly mussed brown hair, looking a bit like the indie-film director Andrew Bujalski, and splits his time between guitar and keyboard. Andy Savage, aka Fergus, has more of a blonde Kurt Cobain mop, and spends the evening behind the drum kit. They each trade off lead vocals, and are joined live by a bass player and another guitarist.

Jason admitted to being slightly stoned, and Ladd bought the band a round of shots, so it might not have been Fergus & Geronimo's tightest performance ever or anything. But I was impressed by a lot of things, including: Jason's voice in-real-life sounding all raw and soulful and gritty like Otis Redding or Jagger or something on standout "Powerful Lovin'"; the new song they had just written in the van that day (something about "strange wool"?) they played before segueing into "Powerful Lovin'" and then cutting things off when the shots came onstage and then going back into it again because they saw that's what the people wanted; the other new song they had written in that van today (this time something about Roman numerals); "Baby Don't You Cry"; the way Jason really sticks his tongue out exaggeratedly when doing "la-la-las"; "World Never Stops"; the high praise Jason gave the Iowa sunset; Andy or somebody else saying how they were all sleep-deprived and wanted to get laid and me just thinking man they're in the wrong place tonight because the only girl here has a boyfriend; and how I wished after the last song they had still played "Wanna Know What I Would Do?" because that one hits sort of close to home. I hope someone offered them a place to stay-- another danger of playing Des Moines. I bought a 7".

So all right, I've seen a bunch of other shows since I last posted about one, including the Poison Control Center (below) playing a bunch of new stuff at Des Moines' new Club 504 venue, and there's a bunch more great stuff coming up (I already bought a ticket for Das Racist in Iowa City). I owe you a spring concert preview. I owe you a lot of things. Unfortunately, I also owe my editors, and they're the ones who pay the bills. Every day I'm hustling like Lykke Li. Until soon.

So I've been writing this ballet...



Live Transmission

Sorry to everybody who follows this blog's Twitter and Tumblr accounts, where I've been spamming you repeatedly on this subject, but I was fortunate enough to have an in-depth story on Pitchfork this week that I'm really excited to share: "Live Transmission." It's about the Local Community Radio Act, which after more than a decade-long battle paves the way for the creation of hundreds, potentially thousands, of new local community radio stations.

They're low-power FM stations, which means 100 watts or less, but they can still have an impact on a community. And they're noncommercial, so they can be concerned with more than just the bottom line.

Des Moines actually already has at least one LPFM station: KFMG 99.1, which operates out of the Hotel Fort Des Moines here downtown. Kyle Munson of The Des Moines Register wrote a nice story about the station's escape from near-death last year.



So some more shows (Wild Nothing with Abe Vigoda! Poison Control Center! Das Racist!) have been added since my original winter concert preview. I think there may be some other good ones just about ready to be announced, too. In the meantime, just thought I'd do a quick update to point out a bunch that may be of interest:


The Nadas. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 2 All Ages $10

Building Your Band's Online Presence Panel. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 3 All Ages & Free

Resident Artists: It Might Get Loud: Johnny Scum, Golden Veins, Deep Sleep Waltzing and Brutus. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 4 21+ $5

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Club 504 (new Des Moines venue). Feb. 5 21+ $32 in advance, $36 at the door. 

Javelin with Foody Pyramid. Grinnell College. Feb. 5 All Ages & Free

The Poison Control Center. Ames Progressive. Feb. 5 All Ages

La Strange CD release party with Bangups, Nuclear Rodeo. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 5 All Ages $5

The Poison Control Center. Club 504. Feb. 10 21+ 

Cleo's Apartment with Wrestling With Wolves, Diamonds for Eyes, Mother Culture, New Bodies. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 11 21+ $7

Seryn with Seedlings, Myself for You, Pocket Aristotle. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 13 All Ages $5

The Love Language. Vaudeville Mews with Dustin Smith, Canyons. Feb. 14

Loretta Lynn. Hoyt Sherman Place Feb. 15 All Ages $52.50-$72.50

Nadas. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 16 All Ages $10

Canby with Parlours, Crystal City. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 18 21+ $5

Wild Nothing with Abe Vigoda. Grinnell College. Feb. 19 All Ages & Free

Sleeping in the Aviary with Mumfords, Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires, the Chatty Cathys. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 21 All Ages $5

Daymoths with Golden Veins. Vaudeville Mews. Feb. 27 21+ $5


Dropkick Murphys with Against Me!. Val Air Ballroom. March 4 All Ages $25

Hunter Valentine with Vanity Theft, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, New Member Charles. Vaudeville Mews. March 4 21+ $7

Menomena. M Shop (Ames). March 5. $8 students $12 public + $2 day-of-show increase

The River Monks CD Release Party. with the Wandering Bears and Elizabeth Arynn. Vaudeville Mews. March 5 All Ages $5

Rural Alberta Advantage. M Shop (Ames). March 22  $6 students $10 public + $2 day-of-show increase

The Poison Control Center with Brass Bed.  Drake University. March 25.

Mission Creek Festival: Guided by Voices, Jeff Tweedy, John Waters, Das Racist, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore, The Poison Control Center, Skull Defekts with Daniel Higgs, more. March 28-April 4 (Iowa City)


Gross Domestic Product. Hotel Fort Des Moines. April 2 All Ages

My Chemical Romance. Val Air Ballroom. April 10 All Ages $30

I Was Totally Destroying It with Cashes Rivers, Parlours. Vaudeville Mews. April 14 21+ $7

Christopher the Conquered with Mumfords, Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires, Pennyhawk. Vaudeville Mews. April 22 21+ $5



photo by Mrs. Des Noise
Asklandaganza IV can only be described as a huge success. It would be hard for me to say much more about the fourth annual birthday party of Vaudeville Mews booker Ladd Askland-- particularly anything analytical or rock critic-like-- because I was just having too much fun. Nick Lambert was named Man of the Year, a move that surprised him because he had thought he was helping Ladd choose the Poison Control Center's Patrick Tape Fleming (a mere ruse!). Wolves in the Attic and the Land of Blood & Sunshine and the Seed of Something and Canyons and Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires (in their debut performance!) and of course PCC played awesome sets. John Huffman distributed Ladd's traditional everybody-in-the-place Black Velvet shots. Bob Nastanovich, back in Des Moines after touring the world with beloved group Pavement, was upstairs spinning records-- I asked him the name of one particularly danceable song three times, hoping to write it down, before he sort of jollily ("jollily"?) told me he had even better ones coming up so I should get back downstairs and keep dancing. It was Mrs. Des Noise's birthday, too, so we were back and forth from a little gathering with some friends at our place-- thanks a ton to everybody who came, glad our cat didn't kill anyone and our dog only peed on one person (at the same time the cat was vomiting) (sorry, Andrew). PCC played some new songs that I remember being a blast but couldn't tell you much more about. I don't think they played new plastic plate 7" "Porcelain Brain." (Wait, now I'm suddenly remembering singing along with it...) When we left I was pretty sure we had lost both Ladd and Chet Boom. But they were both found. Like I said, a huge success. You shoulda been there.

They once was lost but now am found.



Winter, as we know, is already here. It's usually a quieter time for live music in central Iowa, or so I found out last year-- my first Des Moines winter (this one has been much better so far, knock on wood, fingers crossed, etc.). But anyway, there's still a fair amount of fun show-going to look forward to in the next couple of months. A few likely highlights are below-- any mistakes or anything I'm forgetting, just shout.


Patton Oswalt. Hoyt Sherman Place. Jan. 13 All Ages $25.50-$50

Parlours CD Release Party. Up-and-coming Des Moines folk-poppers who "Dream of Chicago" unveil their new EP for Aqui Estamos. They're joined by labelmate Cashes Rivers and fellow locals the River Monks. That's the late show; locals Hanwell, La Strange and So Much Fun play the early show. Jan. 14 21+ (late show) All Ages (early show) $5

ASKLANDAGANZA 4. High-energy Ames indie-rockers the Poison Control Center, fresh off a quick stint in Chicago recording the follow-up to last year's triumphant double-LP Sad Sour Future, show off what they've learned in their past year on the road next Saturday at Vaudeville Mews. They're joined at this annual birthday extravaganza for Mews booker Ladd Askland by Land of Blood and Sunshine and Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires, with Bob Nastanovich (of Pavement fame) spinning records. Look for Bob this Jan. 20 on the Food Network. Lineup above is for the late show; talented locals Wolves in the Attic, Canyons, and the Seed of Something play the early show. Jan. 15 21+ (late show) All Ages (early show) $5

Maxilla Blue. It's a night of local hip-hop and it's for a good cause. Maxilla Blue plays Vaudeville Mews with Richie Daggers and Young Tripp along with PrettyGirlHateMachine and Neon Current, in a benefit for Hoodies for Humanity. That follows an early-show bill of local rock, with Why Make Clocks joined by the Chatty Cathys, Pocket Aristotle, the Seed of Something and Longshadowmen. Jan. 22 21+ $5 or free with donation of a clean, wearable hoodie (late show) and All Ages $5 (early show)

Lyrics Born. Bay Area rapper behind good times jams like "Callin' Out" comes to Vaudeville Mews in support of latest album As U Were, joined by Keys N Krates.  Jan. 27 21+ $15

Oberhofer with Night Moves. Grinnell College. Jan. 27 All Ages & Free

Guster with Good Old War. Hoyt Sherman Place. Jan. 27 All Ages $25-$28


Resident Artists: It Might Get Loud. Not totally sure what this Vaudeville Mews show is, but the bill features locals Johnny Scum, Golden Veins, Deep Sleep Waltzing and Brutus. Feb. 4 21+ $5

Javelin with Foody Pyramid. Grinnell College. Feb. 5 All Ages & Free

Cleo's Apartment. Local self-described "hip-hop/acid jazz" group plays Vaudeville Mews with Wrestling With Wolves, Diamonds for Eyes, Mother Culture and New Bodies. Feb. 11 21+ $7

Loretta Lynn. Hoyt Sherman Place Feb. 15 All Ages $52.50-$72.50

Canby. The local indie-folk band led by the Envy Corps' Scott Yoshimura plays Vaudeville Mews with Aqui Estamos labelmates Parlours plus Crystal City. Feb. 18 21+ $5

Sleeping in the Aviary. A Madison band that has moved from pop-punk to indie-folk plays Vaudeville Mews with locals Mumfords, Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires and the Chatty Cathys. All Ages $5

Daymoths. Twin Cities indie two-piece makes the drive to Vaudeville Mews. Golden Veins opens. Feb. 27 21+ $5


Dropkick Murphys with Against Me!. Val Air Ballroom. March 4 All Ages $25

Hunter Valentine. with Vanity Theft, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, New Member Charles March 4 21+ $7

The River Monks CD Release Party. with the Wandering Bears and Elizabeth Arynn March 5 All Ages $5


My Chemical Romance. Val Air Ballroom. April 10 All Ages $30