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Letting the Chips Fall: David G. Smith, “First Love”; April 30 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 07:33

David G. Smith. Photo by Roger D. Feldhans.

When Blue Grass, Iowa’s David G. Smith recorded his last studio album, he actually cut enough material for two records. Given the consistently topical/political nature of 2014’s One House, a listener might expect the leftovers to taste a little like ... leftovers.

As the singer/songwriter/guitarist said in an interview last week – in advance of the local album-release show for First Love – “This one covers quite a bit of territory. ... This record is a little bit more on the softer side of things, maybe a little more introspective. It’s funny how a group of songs can seem to fit together.”

Indeed, it’s easy to hear that the record is bound in sorrow; half of the songs deal with lives and loves lost.

 
“Just Me Behind the Wheel”: Matthew Logan Vasquez, April 18 at Daytrotter PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 09:28

Matthew Logan Vasquez

Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez characterizes his song “Everything I Do Is Out” as “sweaty,” and the description is apt, with its howling, hoarse, Cobain-like vocals, meaty hard-rock guitar groove, and a generally pummeling manner suitable for any aggressive workout.

And then, just before the three-minute mark, the sound drops out for a split second. Ten seconds later, it abruptly cuts off at peak volume, giving way to the languid Americana of “Black East River.”

In a phone interview last week promoting his April 18 performance at Daytrotter, Vasquez shrugged off my question about those choices. “That’s just a producer trick I learned when I was 19, and I never get to do producer tricks, so I was having fun,” he said. “I recorded everything myself, so I get to use all the things that I wanted to do it. I felt like doing that, so I did it.”

That last sentence could be the motto for Solicitor Returns, the official debut of the singer/songwriter/guitarist as a solo artist. It’s Vasquez unbound and only slightly filtered.

 
The Best Kind of Schizophrenic: Sean Watkins, April 14 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 01 April 2016 05:03

Listening to Sean Watkins’ fifth solo album, What to Fear, you might get whiplash trying to follow the wild swings in lyrical tone in just its first half. The title track opens things with an acidic attack on the media told from the perspective of the media, and it’s followed by the earnest, bite-sized confessions of “Last Time for Everything.”

“I Am What You Want” has menace and attraction in equal measure, as the narrator gently threatens to bend its target to his will: “But I swear you’ll learn to love me. / Darling, would I lie?”

“Keep Your Promises II” returns to a clever lyrical refrain from his previous album: “Just keep your promises. / Don’t let them leave your lips.” And that admonition to a serially dishonest partner segues back into a heartfelt love song in “Everything.”

Watkins, one-third of the platinum-selling Nickel Creek (with his fiddler sister Sara and mandolinist Chris Thile), doesn’t apologize for those abrupt shifts. In an interview last week promoting his April 14 Redstone Room show, he said: “If they like the songs, they like the songs. ... It’s all very me. It’s sincerely coming from me, and something that I feel is part of my musicality, so that’s okay. ... I’m not worried too much about the schizophrenic aspect, because I’m being honest.”

 
Mahler and Brahms and Sebastian the Crab: Classical and Disney Repertoires with the Quad City Symphony, April 2 through 16 PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 28 March 2016 06:00

Adriana Zabala, performing at the April 2 and 3 Masterworks concertsFor many, the word “symphony” evokes the names of famed composers such as Brahms, Mahler, and Tchaikovsky, each of whose talents will be duly represented in the springtime repertoire for Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) musicians.

But if you have young children, it’s entirely possible that the word “symphony,” for them, will soon bring to mind a whole new set of names, among them Mary Poppins, Pocahontas, and Mulan.

 
Different Types of Dangerous: Yonatan Gat, April 1 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 18 March 2016 08:11

Photo by Bryan C. Parker

Yonatan Gat knows dangerous. As the guitarist for Monotonix – banned in many venues in its native Israel – the peril was physical.

“Monotonix ... was dangerous because you could always get hurt – wounded – at the show,” Gat said in a phone interview last week, promoting his eponymous trio’s return to Rozz-Tox on April 1. “This band is very dangerous, but because it’s musically dangerous.”

He later continued that thought: “This is a show that you can close your eyes and listen to the music. In Monotonix, if you close your eyes, a trash can would hit your head. It would be unsafe to close your eyes.”

That’s not to say that the current band – composed of Gat, bassist Sergio Sayeg, and drummer Gal Lazer – is in any way sedate. Your head might be safe from flying trash receptacles, but an ill-prepared brain might still be ducking for cover.

 
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