Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Annalibera – Nevermind I Love You

I have this phrase I overuse quite a bit when I talk about art I didn’t particularly enjoy: It’s not for me.  It’s a super copout thing that gets me off the hook about talking poorly about someone’s work, but a path I am happy to take. I mean, if someone put in that much effort towards creating something (and everything from the most complex arrangements to someone I hate, like Maroon 5 or The Lumineers, have put in a tremendous amount of effort) then I try to give it at least a minor amount of respect. Not to mention, there are fans and it is just rude to badmouth someone else’s tastes. Sure, there are things that I don’t like and there are things that make me very unhappy that they exist, but in the long run, I have found myself taking a page from Stereotypical Mom 101: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.

annaliberaHere is an example: as I type this, my daughter is listening to Ariana Grande and, boy, do I have a thing or two I could say about it. The simple reality of the situation, though, is that Ariana Grande is absolutely not for me, a 34-year old man who spent two hours the other day listening to Oneohtrix Point Never on repeat. Ariana Grande is made for my daughter, who is five. So what kind of jerk would I be if I ripped Ariana Grande just because she has a boring over-produced voice tracked over pedestrian beats?

Now having said all of that, let me tell you what I liked best about Annalibera’s first full length album, Nevermind I Love You: It wasn’t for me. I don’t mean this as a copout; I mean it literally.  Nevermind I Love You wasn’t conceived with the idea of what a guy like me, or really what anyone, thinks.  It is bigger than what I think, or you think, or critic A thinks, or an A&R rep, or people around the water cooler, or how it plays in Los Angeles or in New York or in Billings or in Des Moines.

Anna Gebhardt has crafted this beautiful and celestial masterpiece along with some super talented musicians that dwarfs an outsider’s opinion. The first two listens I felt off about the whole endeavor, and then the more I listened to it I realized that this was so personal and so powerful that I felt awkward listening to it. I felt like a voyeur or an eavesdropper to a conversation I wasn’t invited. Somewhere along the way, I thought of my own struggles and my own fears and problems and I realized that this album was taking a real world emotional toll.

As I really started to explore the album, I realized that Gebhardt wanted us to listen to this because it is what works for her. She wanted us to understand and experience these emotions that she feels and felt while creating. She wanted us to experience our own emotions. She wanted us to do this because that is how she worked and works through these thoughts and feelings.  It was for her continued strength and her emotional state. Even if it discomforts both her and the audience, it is what works emotionally.

So, I could sit here and say things that may be true like “the production on “Clouds” makes guitarist Ryan Stier’s guest vocals mixed with Anna’s voice sound like a conversation with an actual, honest-to-God ghost” or “the vocals are so light and airy that my heart fluttered so much the first time I heard the album, I thought I actually needed to go to the emergency room” or mild criticisms like  “it needs one more upbeat track to be a perfect album for all audiences.” Or I could do my usual shtick and tell an anecdote and tie it into the album.  Hell, my first draft of this review was me breaking this down track by track because I felt so passionately about each song and the second was a retelling of my own personal struggles and how I am trying to overcome. However, I have realized the overriding truth of the album is that it isn’t about me. It isn’t. So, what I have to say simply doesn’t matter. It only matters that we experience this, because someone released her actual soul for the world to share and it is important and it matters.

It wasn’t made for me; it wasn’t made for any of us. It was made for Anna Gebhardt. It was made for her to get her emotions and her feelings and her thoughts and fears and life and love bleeding, weeping and pouring out of our speakers. Her words mixed with superb production and light instrumentals tuned into exactly what those feelings mean and how they needed to be expressed. So I dunno, I sort of feel like I wasted everyone’s time with this review, because it didn’t need one. Nevermind I Love You just needs to exist; not for me or you or the community or to make Annalibera big, commercial stars and critical darlings. It wasn’t for us; it was for her. When someone puts themselves out there this much, the least we can do is listen and feel.


Try Not To Miss Shows – 3/5 – 3/11


Canby – The Basement – 3/5 7pm

This is a taping for “Live From Studio One” for IPR, and having a chance to talk with Scott from Canby this past weekend, he is super excited for this opportunity and I think there are few people I would want to miss than an excited Canby. Also, Nashville singer/songwriter Kiernan McMullan plays right after.

American Pinup w/ The Other Brothers – Gas Lamp – 3/6 9pm

Not sure what to expect from American Pinup, but the little I know about The Other Brothers is super intriguing. Eli Clark of The Other Brothers (and Viva Montesa) is fairly untouchable as far as rock and roll.

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band w/ Rumble Seat Riot – Gas Lamp – 3/7 9pm

The Rev gets plugged whenever he comes to town because few can put on the live show he and his band can. One band that can come awfully close is Rumble Seat Riot, so this one is kind of a no-brainer.