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A Patchwork from the Past: Foxholes, February 1 at Rozz-Tox; In Rooms, January 25 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 13:16

The Des Moines band Foxholes formed in late August 2012, and its first album is set to be released March 1. Can’t Help Myself is a surprisingly mature work, in the sense that a band this new has a clear sonic identity – rooted in late-’80s/early-’90s alternative rock – yet it doesn’t use its touchstones as crutches; the songs in no way suggest a group trying to find its feet over its first year-plus, or an ensemble beholden to its influences.

But the quartet – which will be performing its first show outside of the Des Moines and Ames areas at Rozz-Tox on February 1 – has indeed been a work in progress. And with a second full-length album planned for later this year, it’s evident that Foxholes moves quickly.

 
Multi-Sport Stars: The Communion Tour with The Weeks and The Dough Rollers, January 23 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 10 January 2014 09:36

The Weeks. Photo by Emily B. Hall.

The title of The Weeks’ Dear Bo Jackson does more than name-check the famous two-sport professional athlete – an All-Pro running back in the NFL and an All-Star outfielder in Major League Baseball. It also articulates a mission statement for the Nashville-by-way-of-Mississippi band.

“Bo Jackson, as good as he was at baseball and football, he was just called a ballplayer,” said guitarist Sam Williams earlier this week. “Bo Jackson just kind of does what he wants. That’s sort of what we were going with, musically. ... I just want to be a rock band. ... I think this record has a lot of different genres. We kind of skip around a lot.”

To extend the metaphor, Williams said “the bashing rock-and-roll songs” represent The Weeks’ football career, while the slower songs are baseball. “They take a little longer to develop,” he said, but they have their share of “triples and homes runs.”

Of course, bands hate being pigeonholed, but The Weeks make good on their chutzpah. When the latest edition of the Communion tour hits the Quad Cities on January 23 (at RIBCO), the bill features a pair of throwback bands. Both The Weeks and The Dough Rollers play rock that neither needs nor warrants additional modifiers; it’s music largely out of time.

 
A Re-Birth for Emo – and a Band: The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, January 22 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 12:02

In reviewing The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die’s Whenever, If Ever, Pitchfork.com said it’s “a rare debut that’s powered by an almost frightening will to live, a desperation that strongly suggests the people involved have no other option to deal with what’s inside of them.”

That’s a somewhat ironic assessment, given that the band almost didn’t complete the album. “We weren’t sure if everybody was going to break up or if we were going to finish the thing ... ,” guitarist Greg Horbal said in a phone interview last week. “I think for a while, even I was kind of like, ‘If we get this record done, it’ll be a miracle.’”

 
Digging Out the Gold: Two 2013 LPs with a Bonus CD PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 26 December 2013 05:17

I’m no vinyl purist, but for this year’s selection of my favorite songs, I decided to limit myself to the length of an LP and sequence it for two sides. The primary benefit of brevity is that it can be more easily digested, as a side can be consumed in 25-ish minutes.

But this approach resulted in a “main” album of only 10 songs – which is admittedly meager for a year when I had 11 albums with at least three songs I loved.

To correct for that, I’m also offering a second album collecting 15 songs that are, generally speaking, more pop-oriented – which isn’t to say they’re not just as weird in their ways as the first 10 songs. That’s also LP length, and also offered on two sides.

Finally, to highlight some additional favorites that didn’t make those two slabs of vinyl, I’m giving you a CD-length collection of 20 more songs. You’re welcome.

 
Finding the Big Picture in the Details: The QC Symphony, December 7 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 10:23

Through the thick melodic honey of Russian Romanticism and the ever-changing musical illusions of a contemporary American composition, the Quad City Symphony on December 7 fashioned a successful concert from two divergent approaches to lyricism. Although the symphony occasionally blurred the differences between melodies and their accompaniments, they achieved resplendent moments of uplifting splendor in both pieces.

The program paired Jennifer Higdon’s imaginative, three-movement Violin Concerto – which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize – with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s profusely tuneful Symphony No. 2. Separated by a century of musical development, these works feature vast differences in compositional technique and tonality: Rachmaninoff worked in the customary symphonic form while Higdon writes improvisationally, and Rachmaninoff used traditional harmonic structure while Higdon employs a variety of tonal systems developed during the 20th Century.

But they are similar in using lyricism or songfulness as the primary means of self-expression. Consequently, in both cases, the artistic challenge for the Quad City Symphony was the same: to emphasize, with dynamics and stylistic nuances, melodic and motivic fragments and differentiate them from background sounds and accompaniment – a task the orchestra and its guest conductor struggled with in the first movement of Rachmaninoff and throughout Higdon.

 
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