Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Brant Williams – Expressions

I have had a rough couple of weeks, and I thought I would hop back into writing by picking something fairly easy to listen to. I received a link to The Workshy’s Brant Williams’ solo album Expressions, and thought that would be a good place as any to dive in; easy to listen to rock and roll to soothe the soul. I was wrong.

1933417276-1For those unfamiliar, The Workshy are a well-known band from Ames whose focus is generally roots, classic rock and jam oriented. They play jaunty tunes that you can twirl around to or just chill if that’s your thing. So I figured, I’d put on the album, have a good listen, jot down some thoughts and boom, I’d be back on the horse.

However, Expressions, isn’t much like a Workshy album. I mean, there are some similarities there. The instrumentals are tight and there is an obvious improvisational vibe that all good jam bands bring to their performances. However, I don’t think I sat down and listened to a Workshy album and thought, “Boy, this really sounds like a soundtrack to a 1970’s cop drama.” But that’s the first thought I had listening to Expressions.

The album is split up into two nearly twenty minute long tracks. “Part I” is a funky, yet oddly heart attack inducing bit of instrumentalism that lets you write your own tale. I really had images of a Popeye Doyle-esque character while I listened to it; a hard-nosed detective who plays by his own rules and drives a 1971 Dodge Charger while sipping from his flask, trying to catch a hooker murderer. This feels like the background music when he goes to the pier to shake down a john who maybe knows too much.

“Part II” is similar, but a little more dire. It ratchets up the paranoia a bit, like if our hero had just come off a bender, or was in the middle of a bender, and seeing ghosts of all the people he had killed in the name of the law.

All in all, this is kind of a unique piece of work in this day and age. It isn’t often that I can spend forty minutes listening to an album and somehow daydream a hackneyed movie script, but that’s what Expressions did. It made me pay attention to the changes and the backgrounds as much as any artistic work has. I didn’t expect to have to put this much effort into listening to something, but I’m glad I did. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have something to send off to Hollywood.

Try Not To Miss Shows – 2/7 – 2/13

Ken Stringfellow w/Gloom Balloon, Jordan Mayland and Devin Frank – Vaudeville Mews 2/8 8pm

A former member of Big Star and REM, Stringfellow is a talented singer songwriter, and he is joined by three of Iowa’s best.

Broncho w/ Skating Polly, Holy White Hounds, John the Bastard and Foxholes – Vaudeville Mews 2/9 8pm

Dirty, awesome Low-fi garage rock. Yes, please.

The Space For Ames Anniversary Show – The Space For Ames 2/9 12pm-3am

55 Iowa bands. 55. 15 hours worth of music. 15. Head up there at some point and hang out for a bit, if you don’t like who is playing wait 20 minutes and someone else will be on. More than likely you’ll find something you’ll like.

Surf Zombies w/ The Wheelers and The Blendours – Gas Lamp 2/9 9pm

Ah, surf rock. You’ve never let me down. Oh, and The Wheelers are great, too.

Paul Collins Beat w/ Twins and Good Habits – Gas Lamp 2/11 8pm

Paul Collins is a legendary power-pop figure from his bands The Nerves and The Beat. This is a very rare treat to catch a very legendary performer in a small venue. Oh, and Cedar Falls based Twins are awesome, too.