I’m the music guy on this blog. So, I won’t go into the full scale of what the Greater Des Moines Partnership has unleashed with CarpeDM. I’d imagine someone with more gravitas or clout will tackle the full scale of what they are trying to do. The Seize Des Moines campaign helps to both draw people to Des Moines and help them while they are here. It highlights the city’s services, its attractions and much more. It’s exactly what we need: a targeted full-scale marketing strategy poised to show that this town is incredible and that, um, Des Moines is not boring, I guess…
But again, I’m just the music guy, so all I really care about is the compilation they put together to help highlight the music scene in Des Moines. I think despite some initial hand-wringing from, well, me, they put together a solid fifteen tracks.
If I can be completely honest, I didn’t like the idea of a compilation based off of voting. I think it ends up with the most popular bands and can turn into a situation where bands are forced to politick for themselves instead of just creating. Also, when the final results came in, I had my worries, too. I thought some of the bands were a little too “safe”.
Having had a chance to listen to the album, though, I realize that my fears were slightly misguided. I think some of my fears were just more my own personal taste based than any sort of failure of the bands chosen. I guess, instead of just going on with what worried me, I should say what I thought they got right, which is a lot.
First off, Gloom Balloon, Foxholes, North of Grand, Holy White Hounds and PCC would’ve been no brainers if I were to put out a Des Moines compilation. Mr. Baber’s Neighbors, Dustin Smith & the Sunday Silos, Mary McAdams, Bonne Finken, and Bright Giant would’ve been right there, too. (Now, to be fair, my compilation might be 60 tracks long, and I know that just isn’t feasible, but it’s my hypothetical.)
What surprised the most was the stuff either I wasn’t sure of, or wasn’t expecting. Chad Elliot’s track was a bit of a revelation. I know a lot of people have been really high on him for a while, so it was great to hear something really catch my ear. I have heard Brother Trucker live several times before, but I think this is the first produced track I have ever heard from them, and I think it captured them well. Uniphonics and Mighty Shady, aren’t my cup of tea, but I can see why someone would like them, and they fit well on the comp. Also, I’m not a huge Nadas fan, but this might be my favorite track from them.
I think there were still some misses, though. Not in terms of bands, but just more overall critiques. This might sound odd coming from a guy who in almost three years has never reviewed a metal/hardcore album, but the compilation could’ve used something heavier. If we are selling the city, Slipknot is probably the most known band from here, so showcasing what the metal scene sounds like now would’ve been aces. I know metal doesn’t translate well to a lot of people, but I think people can accept it, lots enjoy it and most can just hit skip track if they don’t care for it. I don’t think it’s a blight on a compilation.
I also think there should’ve been something a bit more avant-garde. There is like no electronic so someone like MAIDS or Tires, or even something from the often overlooked dubstep/trance/etc. community might’ve been nice. No hip-hop either (I guess Uniphonics kind of count, but I’d put the more towards the Sublime level of jam bands), and that’s a shame because there are some damn fine hip hop acts in this town.
For those looking to dip a toe into what Des Moines has to offer, this is a good place to start. Maybe you’re new to town or you just think a local band automatically sucks (there are way too many people who think this). So, give it a listen, find someone you like and, most importantly, go to their shows when they play live. Also, don’t stick to just this, keep branching. There is a ton to explore. In fact, here are some shows!
Click Here to Download the 15 tracks.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 3/20 – 3/26
Fenster w/Stewardesses and Pussy Willow – 3/21 Vaudeville Mews 10pm
Dreamy pop from a strong up and coming band. This will be a good chill show to check out after having a St. Patrick’s that falls on a Monday, and maybe you want to take it easy on Friday.
Dick Prall w/ Max Jury – 3/22 Wooly’s 9pm
Dick Prall is an incredible musician and a wonderful performer who has worked with several big names, both in Iowa and around the world. Joining him is a rising star in the Iowa scene, Max Jury, who shares a lot of the same traits as Prall. Can’t miss.
See Through Dresses w/ Liana, Dan Mariska and TARAMIS – 3/24 Vaudeville Mews 8pm
Pretty, Cure inspired pop rock from a strong Omaha band. I also really like Liana and they put on a strong live performance.
The Black Clouds w/Foxholes – 3/26 Gas Lamp 8pm
Show some support to a really loud touring rock and roll band and check out Des Moines’ next big thing in Foxholes.