Dave Deibler pretty much gave up the rock lifestyle about five years ago. After "riding the bull" for 10 years with the Iowa-based power trio House of Large Sizes, he needed a break. "You have to get off that damned animal and lead it around a bit," said Deibler, guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the band.

• My favorite chill-down record of the moment is the just released Last Night, a soulful, sweet funky breeze from the eclectic entity known as His Name Is Alive. Initially a somber, dark sound experiment by Warren Defever, the outfit has re-invented itself with each album on the 4AD label, this time taking a left into funky café jazz and soft acoustic soul.

There are certain words that I promised myself that I would not use in this review. “Anthemic,” for example. Or “rural rock.” Or “heartland,” or “heartfelt,” or “heart”-anything for that matter.
Why? Because these are terms that have been attached to John Mellencamp ever since those early days of MTV, back when Johnny Cougar boogied down with bar bikers in the original “Hurts So Good” video.

Being a Wilco virgin, I was under the tutelage of a handful of veteran listeners who explained that Wilco was more then just alt country. The band’s latest album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has garnered much critical acclaim and was even being compared to the Beatles’ White Album, stated one of my new mentors.

Portland, Oregon, is creating some unique breeds these days. The Epoxies are the resurgence of an inescapably pleasurable combination of punk and new wave, and the result on the band's self-titled debut is really short and upbeat songs, flashy hooks, very competent musicianship, and damn smart, simple lyrics.

• Prepare yourself for "gorilla-rap" or maybe "gorilla-scat" as lowland superstar Koko has announced the debut of her Fine Animal Gorilla album, the first ever release by, well, a gorilla. The 31-year-old is best known as one of a select group of lowland gorillas raised to communicate in American Sign Language by San Francisco's Gorilla Foundation.

On the downslide from pop stardom, a funny thing happened to John Mellencamp: He became a damned good songwriter and produced a couple of the strongest (and most underrated) rock records of the 1990s.

People who wrote off the Indiana-bred singer from his "John Cougar" and "John Cougar Mellencamp" days have missed the development of a high-caliber songwriter and pop craftsman who has never abandoned his heartland roots but has still shown a willingness to stretch.

The November 2 Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) concert had it all: a dazzling North American premiere, an audience favorite, and an emotional roller coaster. And aside from isolated errors, the performance was technically sound.

Retailers are wishing for a DVD Christmas this year, and record labels large and small are releasing tides of great titles. The Cult has just released Live Cult, a 17-track concert CD filmed at Los Angeles' Grand Olympic Auditorium.

Get ready for some great blues coming to the Adler Theater on Monday, November 4. Billed as the "Front Porch Blues" show, the stellar lineup includes Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Henry Butler, Corey Harris, and Deborah Coleman.

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