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items tagged with RIBCO

Rigid Expectations: Against Me!, May 4 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-04-22 13:50:29

Against Me! Photo by Autumn de Wilde.

Against Me! has been selling out for the better part of a decade, so complaints about the polish of the band's forthcoming record are already tired to songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabel.

Because Gabel is a punk icon and an anarchist, it was little surprise that there were negative reactions when the band jumped to a major label. But as it prepares to release White Crosses in June -- the group will play a show at RIBCO on May 4 -- Gabel talked about the challenge of being an ever-changing person in a world of rigid expectations.

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King for a Day ... or More: Caroline’s Spine, April 30 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-04-22 13:37:18

Caroline's Spine

When Caroline's Spine plays RIBCO on April 30, the guy behind the drum kit will likely be more familiar to the audience than the band itself. Greg Hipskind, the longtime drummer for the Quad Cities quartet Wicked Liz & the Bellyswirls, has been the touring drummer for Caroline's Spine since last fall.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based alt-rock group, led by singer/songwriter Jimmy Newquist, had a pair of albums on Hollywood Records in the late 1990s. "Sullivan," based on the true story of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo who died in World War II, was a modest hit. The band also had songs on the soundtracks to An American Werewolf in Paris and Varsity Blues in the company of Bush, Skinny Puppy, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Collective Soul, and Van Halen, among others.

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Farming the Middle Ground: Head for the Hills, March 19 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-03-03 12:31:21

Head for the Hills

The self-titled album by Head for the Hills opens with "One Foot in the Grave," and its instrumentation and twangy harmonies are classic bluegrass. The next track is "Solar Bowling Shoes," and the title alone is a clue that the Colorado-based band has interests beyond tradition.

But the band really establishes its newgrass credentials on the instrumental "Nooks & Crannies," which -- aside from its eloquent melodies and nimble digressions -- brings in an electric mandolin at the four-minute mark. Its introduction offers a hint of rock-and-roll distortion, and it later adds some feedback, and finally it breaks away from any sense of tradition with a soaring solo. The instrument's use is transcendent, creating a bridge between bluegrass and rock.

The blending of those two genres is of course a hallmark of newgrass, and Head for the Hills -- performing March 19 at RIBCO -- is particularly adept at farming that expansive middle ground. There's nothing else on the album as quintessentially bluegrass as "One Foot in the Grave," and there's nothing as nontraditional as "Nooks & Crannies," but the remainder of the album is a testament to the band's alchemic skills.

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New Chops: Dr. Dog, February 9 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-02-04 17:24:25

Dr. Dog

To understand some of what makes Dr. Dog sound like it was preserved in amber in the mid-1960s, listen to singer/guitarist/songwriter Scott McMicken talk about drums.

The quintet -- performing a show at RIBCO on February 9 -- has a new record (Shame, Shame) due out April 6, and for its sixth studio album it finally enlisted a producer, holing up in a New York studio for nearly a month.

"The real crux of the problem in New York was the drums," McMicken said last month. On previous Dr. Dog albums, which regularly sound 40-plus years old, "the drums aren't really dominant ... very muted."

But on the New York recordings, the drums had a modern microphone configuration -- overkill, in McMicken's view. "The real problem was that you were hearing all 16 microphones at once. I knew if I could put my hands on that console and turn off 75 percent of the mics, we'd probably be getting to hear a really cool drum sound."

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Out of His Own Way: Freedy Johnston, January 23 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-01-12 15:52:38

Freedy JohnstonIf you followed the career of Freedy Johnston, you might wonder what happened to him after 2001, when Elektra released his Right Between the Promises album.

Until Rain on the City (out today), Johnston released a live record and a CD of covers, but the man behind the 1994 single "Bad Reputation" -- who was Rolling Stone's songwriter of year that year, and whose major-label discography included albums produced by Butch Vig and T-Bone Burnett -- doesn't want to talk about the more than eight years between albums of original material.

"That's why we put it in the bio," he said last week. "I didn't want it to be talking about it every time, rehashing the same story."

In that official record-label bio, Johnston -- who will perform a show at RIBCO on January 23 -- is vague: "It takes a while to re-adjust one's priorities and get back on track after working with the big budget that the majors give you. I went through issues with the IRS, had a relationship go south and a touring vehicle grind to a halt, but through it all I never gave up writing and gigging whenever possible."

In our interview, Johnston didn't elaborate much on the specifics of his personal life. (In addition to living in Austin, Texas, in Nashville, and in New York, he did live in downtown Rock Island in 2002 and 2003 and married a woman from the Quad Cities.) But he did discuss his difficulty completing songs.

"I used to have no problem writing songs before I had a major-label deal," he said. "All of a sudden it was really hard to finish the damn things. ... Now I'm on the other side of it. ... Maybe I just needed to reset my clock. I'm working better now than I ever was."

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