There was more of an underground metal/hardcore vibe at Vaudeville Mews than usual. There was a huge merch area with a lot of distro stuff set up, which got me thinking about the what the difference between this kind underground/punk commerce and the usual commercialism we all see all the time. It’s a different vibe, a grass-roots, bazaar kind of thing, but there was definitely a lot more money being exchanged for stuff than what you typically see at an indie rock show, which was interesting and seemed like a positive thing overall.

The first four acts got set up and torn down super fast, even adjusting for the fact that Die Mutts and The Creepy Kids shared a bassist and Catheter and Black Market Fetus shared a drummer, or maybe just the drums, and all kept their sets rather short, being just as excited to get D.R.I. on the stage as anyone in the crowd was.

Die Mutts and The Creepy Kids (who are way too old to be calling themselves The anything “Kids”) both had a pretty basic fast punk rock or old-school hardcore sound. Both have been around a good long time, such that, even adjusting for the relative simplicity of the music style, their playing was tight. In modern punk I think a lot of the job of giving the music some texture and sonic interest falls to the bassist, and the bassist that played in both bands was on it, probably my favorite aspect of that part of the show.

Catheter are from Denver I think? They do a kind of death-metal-influenced grindcore thing with low-tuned sludgy guitar sounds, growl vocals, short songs, breakneck switches between slow parts and blastbeats. Sort of reminded me of when I first heard Suppression on cassette back in ’93. Quite good. Nate Fetus used to sing for them for a while, and did a song or two with them at the show. These kind of vocals can seem sort of silly, but I’m less likely these days to be down on a band for using them, even if I don’t always entirely get it myself. I enjoyed their set. For as long as they’ve been around and as much as I’ve heard about them over the years, this was the first time I’ve gotten to see them live.

The wild raucous fun energy of Poison Control Center’s shows is often mentioned in press about them, and everything they say is true. But less talked about is that another central Iowa band, Black Market Fetus, are capable of inspiring just as much frenzy. Their set was nuts with stage-diving and the crowd yelling all the lyrics along. Musically they’re more metal than the punkier opening bands but more punk rock sounding than even much of D.R.I.’s material.

D.R.I. had a [nice](http://092.me) long set. They must have worked through something like two-thirds of their entire discography. I listened to a lot of D.R.I.’s albums in the couple weeks before the show, kind of puzzling this out, and I think their more metal-sounding stuff post-_Dealing With It!_ is sometimes criticized unfairly, especially by us indie types. All their material was going over well with this crowd, and with me as well. Perhaps the crossover they started is only really starting to be understood now, or maybe it’s a matter of some things working better live. This band is going on 30 years together; sure, they started young, but they aren’t lacking for energy in any respect. It was good times.

Got to hang out with Andy K a little bit too, which was cool. We’ll have to get together again sometime when we can talk more.

Previously: The Black Keys – Brothers

The Black Keys were ubiquitous in 2010. Liven up your next TV party with the Black Keys drinking game: every time you hear a Black Keys song on TV, take a number of drinks equal to how many albums ago it’s from. Bonus drink if the song is heard in a context other than a commercial. When Captain Beefheart died they even got mention in a couple news articles about it for having covered a few of his songs. It’s possibly a bit much.

In their early days, if you were paying attention, you might have noticed that they tended to have better songs than the average among their peers, but generally you could be forgiven for having overlooked The Black Keys among the glut of two-piece gritty-blues-rock outfits that seemed to appear in the wake of the sudden success of The White Stripes (about whom I’m obligated to mention their breakup, but presumably you already heard about it). Then you might have started to notice that they seemed to put out an awful lot of albums. Turns out they were getting better with each one. They began to really set themselves apart from the crowd in 2008 on Attack & Release by trading in blues orthodoxy for 1960s R&B/soul elements that give Dan Auerbach more room to use his smooth, agile vocals and stretch his lyric writing, and those new degrees of freedom allowed them to put tremendous emotional depth into the songs. Adding in a bit of extra instrumentation on record didn’t hurt either. Having established this formula, they pretty much stuck with it in 2010 for Brothers, and delivered one of the best albums of the year yet again.

(As for 2009, Dan Auerbach released the excellent, somewhat overlooked solo album Keep It Hid — it pretty much sounds like a Black Keys record with some folk leanings, definitely worth checking out.)

Harvey Milk: “A Small Turn of Human Kindness”: These Seans over at Crustcake called this “possibly the most miserable record ever recorded” and meant it as a compliment. The whole album plays out as a concept/story piece, with each song titled after a first-person line of dialogue (“I Just Want To Go Home”, “I Know This Is No Place For You”). After an instrumental intro track that features strange, nauseous dissonances between the guitar and bass, a brief, bleak story line plays out over the course of 6 dismally slow songs with a descending melodic motif recurring frequently throughout. Bonus track “In The Ground” makes a fitting coda. A gorgeously bleak album.

The Howling Wind: “Into The Cryosphere”:

This band is a duo of Ryan Lipynsky from Unearthly Trance and some drummer I don’t know much about. I never heard of either band before this past year anyway. Unearthly Trance also put out an album last year, but I didn’t get much chance to hear that, so I’d feel odd about trying to go too in-depth with this one if I have nothing to say on that one. Stylistically this has more of a black-metal sound where Unearthly Trance are more doom-oriented. You can take that to mean generally faster tempos, guitar sounds that are more trebly instead of bassy, and more intricately-textured guitar chords with close and extended harmonies in them. The vocals are of the raspy, reverbed-out, low in the mix variety, which usually causes me to appreciate something more as instrumental music; I’ve always had a little trouble understanding lyrics in music anyway. This has great atmosphere, seemingly built around a concept having to do with the arctic. Sometimes they convey the stillness of the desolate tundra, but more often it’s about the violence of arctic storms and freezing wind blasting in your face. There is plenty going on in the songs to hold my interest, but not so much that it’s disorienting or doesn’t hold together. The drumming is solid and not excessive. It’s kind of short, but its economy feels welcome. This album is pretty rad all throughout.

Announced yesterday on the Afternoon Records website and all the requisite social-web outlets, Iowa’s #1 rock band The Poison Control Center have deleted their MySpace page and set up shop on bandcamp. Besides their recent 7″ and Sad Sour Future album, you can pick up digital reissues of some of their older stuff (The Go-Go Music Show mercifully excluded).

Coolzey has started a Kickstarter project to get a CD/DVD combo pressed of his 2010 online video-album, and one of my own favorite albums of the year, Coolzey and the Search for Hip Hop Hearts: He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. If you missed out on it at the time, basically Zach released 12 songs, one a week, over the summer, each with beats made by a different producer/DJ, and each with a video produced by his Public School Records partner-in-crime Jason Hennesey. You can watch all the videos in The Search For Hip Hop Hearts and download the album from Free Music Archive — check the Coolzey page at the Public School Records website.

Here’s the official lowdown on the Kickstarter project from Coolzey’s email list:

I made this Kickstarter fund-raising page with the intentions of raising the money to create a DVD / CD combo of the remixed and remastered album Coolzey and the Search for the Hip Hop Hearts. We released the rough videos and songs on-line last summer, and I think most of you are familiar with the project. Please follow this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/515987855/coolzey-and-the-search-for-the-hip-hop-hearts?ref=email

I have been urged to officially release this and make some copies, so that’s what this is about! There are also a bunch of other prizes for pledging certain amounts that I’m excited about, including show tickets, physical Coolzey albums and discographies, postcards, charcoal portraits, and more!

The standard thing that most of you who end up pledging will probably want to do is $25, which will basically be buying a copy of the DVD / CD combo plus postage and an extra little something personal. Please check out the other options though! You can pledge more or less if you’d like.

I have 1 month to raise $3000 for this, and if we don’t meet the goal, nobody will have their card charged, but we aniticipate that this shouldn’t be a problem. One month from today. Please do your best to pledge early on if you can, it really helps the momentum. Above all, I’m keeping this email brief, so please go check out the comprehensive link!

I’m rooting for this to happen… there’s only a little under a month left to go so I urge you all to head on over there and get in on it. If you put in $25 like I just did, you get a copy of the CD/DVD when it comes out; if you pledge more, Zach promises some pretty nifty extra rewards, and if you can’t quite manage $25, anything helps.

Update: here’s an embeddy widgety thing:

Bandcamp is on fire, and so is Des Moines’s scene of youthful indie rockers, several of whom — Pocket Aristotle, The Seed Of Something, and The Chatty Cathys, you can catch tonight at Vaudeville Mews’s early show along with The Longshadowmen and Why Make Clocks.. Come out at 5pm and give the [nice](http://092.me) fellow at the door $5. And to get back on the subject of bandcamp, here’s Pocket Aristotle’s page.

Here’s a band that’s on bandcamp that’s not from Iowa, they’re called Iowa. They’re from Australia and I like the sound of them, sort of a shoegazey mix of Dinosaur Jr.’s Bug and Eric’s Trip. You can download their still-scant catalog (they seem to have just started releasing stuff last year) and/or buy their two 7″s on bandcamp, check it out.

Yeah, have I ever mentioned that Ottumwa’s irreverent death-grindcore maestros Captain 3 Leg are also on bandcamp? And that they have a new album on the way that you can already stream from there?

Yet another friend of mine has hit the bandcamp scene. Gabe Wilkinson of Waterloo/Cedar Falls and his electronic/industrial-rock project Microwaved have made available an album called Desperation Upon the Wings of Angels. ’80s retrofuturist-dystopian vibes, harsh factory-like rhythms and dissonant effects make it a real treat. The download comes with bonus remixes and videos. Go check it out.