I have been waiting a long time to write this one, you guys have no idea. Christopher the Conquered was one of the first area acts that really opened my eyes to what this state was capable of and what music could actually sound like when a unique and talented artist just keeps plying his trade and tinkering with what works and what doesn’t. Christopher continually added musicians, played with tempo and honed not only his musical style, but also his performance style. The result is some well earned and much deserved accolades and arguably the most anticipated Iowa album release of 2012.
I have been waiting specifically for this album to come out, but to be honest I was slightly apprehensive about it. I wasn’t sure if it could possibly live up to all the hype I had built up for it in my mind and if all the new additions to the band would come across as the traditional Christopher the Conquered I had come to love and revere. I had nothing to fear. Once I finally decided to put the album on, I realized one golden rule: talent trumps all.
There is something deliciously un-contemporary about Christopher the Conquered & His Black Gold Brass Band (from here on out, they‘ll just be CTC). While a lot of bands strive to be a new era for indie rock or want to create new sounds with the latest technology, CTC just wants to write songs and perform. There is a lot of AM radio or KIOA vibe about the album in both presentation and execution. At times Vince Guaraldi-esque, like the track “10,000 People” others show a Randy Newman or even a slightly weirder Jackson Browne vibe, and with the horns there is a Blues Brothers Fabulous Rhythm and Blues Revue vibe (most notable in “The Truth is On Its Way”)and, hell, is occasionally vaudevillian. CTC are classic pop storytellers in a world dying for classic pop storytellers. While there is an occasional bit of ironic detachment, it never feels cynical, almost more satirical and always danceable.
Now while there is something un-contemporary about the album, CTC are hardly just old fashioned musicians. They are classic performers and entertainers. Chris’ vocal range is impressive, as his tenor warble is rarely off-pitch on accident. But it isn’t just his singing, it is how he chooses to sing. His inflection and the pauses and vibrato are all done with purpose and hit at the exact right time. The horns are highlighted in just the right way, with the trumpet featured as the rhythm instrument on occasion, the trombone at others, and the sweet sounds of saxophone getting its due with the occasional solo. Also, the addition of the bass was a noticeable addition to this album from the last album, 2009’s You’re Gonna Glow In The Dark.
So being a highly anticipated album, and with all the expectations and cover stories and headlining spots, there was a small chance that this could end up being just a complete bomb. It has happened before with even the best of artists. However, the level of dedication and ability this album and this band posses, well, there was just no way it was going to happen. Talent Trumps All.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 4/12 – 4/18
Subjective Vaudeville – Vaudeville Mews 4/13 10pm
This is a show that is pretty close to my heart and, in fact, one I guess I will emcee. It is a variety show featuring comedian Ben Gran, Flying Eagles Acrobalance Troupe. Also, Jordan Mayland will play a set and the insanely talented Trouble Lights will be making their Des Moines debut. They have promised something special. So, if you like visibly uncomfortable men acting as emcees for a band you will talk about for weeks to come, then be sure to come out.
Gross Domestic Product- Hotel Fort Des Moines 4/14 6pm
The other big event this weekend is the annual Gross Domestic Product, presented by the DMMC. This event has garnered a ton of press these past weeks (including my saturation over at Iowaves Music), but with very good reason. This event is a showcase of not only some of the best Iowa has to offer, but some of the most underappreciated and under the radar acts Iowa has to offer. This multi-genre, mutli-stage festival offers truly something for everyone. Including, the chance to buy CTC’s new album since this show is also their release party. So, be sure to check out Iowavesmusic.com, desmoinesmc.com, and this website for all of the info you’ll need.
- Fully Support GDP (desmoinesisnotboring.com)
- New Music: Christopher the Conquered, “Let Us Not Confuse Our Thoughts with Our Beliefs” (popdose.com)