Got this in my inbox from Jason Kruger:

Subject: Ambient Funk Playwright Society seeks participants for show

I would like to thank you for your help in promotion for our show. We are only sort of organized in getting the word out right now and have revved up our word getting out now. Here is some more information for you to consume how you wish.

The show will be an alternative arts fest with music, art, and speaking and food. It runs at the same time in Cedar Falls as the College Hill Arts Fest. Anything people could do would be appreciated. People could even do a piece or pieces specifically for this or a collaboration and participation could always be used on a resume or something. If you can’t make it to the show then we have people who could transport stuff there and back. There are no charges for participation, but we do ask that participants donate a work or documentation to the AFPS Archives. Donated works will not be sold for ten years but may be a part of future shows without further approval of the artist, though we will do our best to contact the artist using contact info provided by them.


It's True cover

If It’s True!’s self-titled album sounds unusually accomplished for a debut full-length, it should come as no surprise. According to a news article I caught on the web site of some Omaha paper, this lineup came together on account of Adam Hawkins having impressed enough people with his songwriting and voice through low-key performances at places like O’Leavers that he was eventually able to rally some of the city’s top instrumentalists behind him.

This delightful set of pop songs starts off in a dreamy waltz-ballad vibe (introduced by the same lovely la-la-la harmonies that impressed me so the first time I saw this band perform live), and then stays there for three songs. In less skilled hands, such a sequence of tunes would be in danger of sleepy monotony, but Hawkins and his band have great ears for detail, (as well as dynamics, as evidenced by the tension-building bridge of the gorgeous “Nothing Like”) so when the pace finally picks up with the straightforward rocker “As Long As We’re Together,” one has no complaints that the shift in mood didn’t come sooner.

It’s True aren’t averse to sonic gimmicks like the vocoder in “No Sense,” (which also boasts a soaring, rootsy bridge built around organ and country-rock guitar solo) but anyone who’s seen earlier incarnations of the group or heard the Slo-Fi Records double-EP There, There, Now../I Think It’s Best… (If I Leave) knows they needn’t lean on them, having heard a number of these songs pulled off with little more than acoustic guitar and boom-box production and suffer little for it.

“What Have I Done” is definitely the darkest thing I’ve heard from It’s True!, jarringly so in fact, and illustrates that while Hawkins and company may choose a gentle touch most of the time, they’re definitely not lightweight. Hawkins slides effortlessly between his characteristic croon and a deeper tone appropriate to the song’s heavier moments, and even escalates it as far as a metal roar momentarily as the song hits it climax. The more brooding mood of this section of the album carries on through the epic build-up of “Honestly,” a [nice]( prelude to the chilled-out closer. If I had any complaint, it would be that I might have liked to have the album end with something closer to the blues-shuffle version of the final song, “I Think It’s Best (If I Leave)” that was on the Slo-Fi disc, with its touch of Jack White swagger. But the psychedelic space excursions of this version are pretty sweet too.

I had been anxiously awaiting this album, to have on CD the big arrangements I’d heard performed live, and It’s True! have delivered on the promise of those live experiences. They are currently on tour supporting this record and you are well-advised to get out and see them. They’ll be at these places:

  • The Riot Room in Kansas City tonight
  • the 400 Bar in Minneapolis tomorrow night
  • the Ames Progressive Office in Ames on Saturday night
  • Duffy’s in Lincoln next Wednesday
  • The Yacht Club in Iowa City next Thursday
  • Ronny’s in Chicago next Friday

After which they’re heading out West early next month and working their way back to the Midwest by late June. Check the full list of dates on their MySpace.

Just wanted to remind you that Coolzey’s song-and-video-every-week album Coolzey and the Search for the Hip Hop Hearts – Volume 1: He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper is still going on. It’s up to three songs now and going strong and you should head over to the Public School Records site to check it out and keep up on it. Also, RapReviews did a really cool interview with Coolzey about the project.

Just as soon as they finish with this tour, and this EP, etc.

You may have heard that I like Zoroaster a bit. I have yet to get any of their stuff on Cd; I have a tendency, when I think I’m likely to try and see a band live, to wait to get a CD at the show. But it looks like I won’t be catching Zoroaster on their upcoming tour, as their closest approaches to Des Moines are Kansas City on July 3, and Minneapolis on July 4, which coincide with 80/35 fest.

Anyway, here’s a sweet promo video for their upcoming album Matador:

Also, quick note: Last night’s Baroness show at Vaudeville Mews kicked ass. That’s all the review it needs.

Rumors went around this morning of the death of revered heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, but were quickly put to rest by his wife Wendy, reporting that he was struggling but still alive; but now further reports say that Dio has indeed departed this mortal coil.

Ronnie James Dio is best known for having replaced Ozzy Osbourne in the band widely regarded as the fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, revitalizing said group through a successful string of albums, then for his very next band Dio, which produced some of the iconic heavy metal songs of the 1980s, including “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Holy Diver,” and also for popularizing the “devil horns” hand gesture that became a universal symbol of rock and roll. Recent years had seen the 50th anniversary of Dio’s recording debut singing and playing trumpet on the 1958 “Lover”/”Conquest” single by Ronnie & the Redcaps, and Dio reuniting with his Black Sabbath lineup under the name Heaven & Hell, releasing the critically acclaimed album The Devil You Know in 2009.

Ronnie James Dio, one of the all time great voices of rock music, ending a distinguished 50+ year career, gone at 67.

update: While pretty much everybody on the Web has chimed in on this subject, the best tribute and thorough account of Dio’s career I’ve seen yet is over at Pop Matters, go check it out.

When Why Make Clocks played at Vaudeville Mews with Omaha’s Fortnight they had free CD-R copies of this demo available “if you promise to listen.” I’ve listened multiple times, so that’s a good sign.

What’s special about a band like Fortnight is how little they’re trying to be special. In a world where musicians transparently calculate their sound, songs, and appearance to target some niche (and not that there’s anything wrong with that, in fact it’s helpful), Fortnight just sounds like a bunch of regular folks who decided to write some songs, but it never occurred to them to have a genre more specific than “have lyrics, melodies, chords, verses and choruses.” They sound about as earnest and guileless as it gets, and the songs have got some hooks. The song that opens this demo in a live-recording form, “Making Asses Of Ourselves,” may as well be musically their mission statement:

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Tell me you’re not shouting-along “We got the bomb we got the bomb” in your head now. And check that little “Rockin’ Robin”-quoting instrumental bit.

Apart from the introductions to the two live tracks, I have no song titles to go on, there was nothing written on the disc or the sleeve except their MySpace URL. Download it if you promise to

Fortnight appears at Stir Live And Loud at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs this Saturday night (May 15) at 9:30 pm.

UPDATE: fixed the song player and the download link; thought I had done that once already…

I’ve had a passing interest in this oddcore outfit for a while now. They just put out this video for the song “Serf Song” off their most recent album Atlas Drugged, and it’s pretty darn clever.

“The Centipede Tapes” is supposedly going to be a feature where I post odd or obscure stuff that I digitized from my vast archive of cassette tapes. Assuming I can keep it up.

Up first though, is a tape I got from Dan of Why Make Clocks, of the band Fetal Pig — four studio-recorded songs they put out in 1996. It’s a good thing the cover didn’t look like much (just a pink insert with text on it) because I don’t have a scanner right now anyway. The brothers Hutchison, heard here on bass and vocals (Dan) and drums (Jeff) can now be found in Why Make Clocks and Blutiger Fluss; Karl Siemers on guitar later joined Why Make Clocks, then after a few years moved on to, oh I don’t know, bartending, and then nothing I guess (the circumstances of his departure from WMC are better left un-delved-into here).

Anyway, Fetal Pig had a tight, dissonant, declarative sound full of musical left-turns, rather like a mathier, more longwinded Minutemen. It’s pretty rad stuff.


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“Hear Me”:

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“Power Slide”:

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And just because I have them, here are rough recordings of two more Fetal Pig songs dug up from a rehearsal tape:

Blue Collar Sheep