Mark Simmet

Studio One Host

Senior Producer Mark Simmet began working at KUNI over 20 years ago.  In that time he has produced and hosted a long-running daily jazz program, as well as weekly blues and world music programs.  Mark also was a fill-in/substitute folk music host.  He has spent many years perfecting IPR's unique blend of musical styles as the host and producer of Studio One.  Mark also reviews all new submissions to IPR’s Studio One library, deciding on CD of The Week artists and maintaining reporting of music aired to record companies, promoters and trade publications.

Mark has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, and finds that his creative skills are very applicable to his work sculpting Studio One.

Ways to Connect

facebook.com/flaminglips

The Flaming Lips have been bringing their psychedelically-informed sound to listeners for over 30 years.  They have established themselves as a must-see live act (did I see you at the Gentlemen of the Road tour, Waverly, summer 2015?)  On record, Wayne Coyne and company have been as creative, experimental and out-there as anyone, but they have also recorded music that is melodic, accessible and song-oriented.  The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002) are in that vein, and remain the go-to Flaming Lips albums for many fans.

facebook.com/kaiserchiefs

Kaiser Chiefs are a fine example of a band that is very popular in their native England, yet remain marginally known  in the United States.  They formed in Leeds under the name Parva in 2000.  After one album, and the usual record label intrigues, Parva re-invented themselves as Kaiser Chiefs in 2003.  The name is derived from the Kaizer Chiefs, a South African football team.  The original lineup of the band has stayed nearly intact, with only the founding drummer being replaced a few years ago.

facebook.com/drdog

Dr. Dog have been playing and recording their folk-rock/baroque pop music since around the turn of the century, when they began as a local band in the Philadelphia area.  Late in 2016 they dropped a surprise album titled Abandoned Mansion.  In the band's own words:  "Its a mood record...Nothing too jamming or atonal.   No blips or bloops or anything else that might unsettle you...We did a song a day for two weeks.  And, almost everything is tracked live...Thematically, this is Dr. Dog meat and potatoes.  Our proverbial wheelhouse.  Songs of the oldest questions.

facebook.com/neilyoung

After being in the game for over 50 years, Neil Young seems determined not to settle into professional old-fogeyism.  His new album Peace Trail was reportedly recorded in just four days, with most of the ten tracks recorded on the first or second take.  Many critics are saying this would have been a better album if the artist had just spent more time refining it.  Obviously, a spontaneous, off-the-cuff feel was what Young was going for.

Chris Ford

On Dec. 1, Studio One returned to The Basement venue of The Des Moines Social Club for our second annual live broadcast of A Conquered Christmas.  Christopher The Conquered and Special Guests provided a generous helping of holiday (and some not holiday related) songs.  A lot of great Iowa talent was heard, and it was a night of fun and frivolity for both the musicians and The Basement-filling live audience! 

Have a listen! 

facebook.com/strangeangels

I like to think of Kristin Hersh as a kind of godmother of indie rock.  Her band Throwing Muses had an impressive run in the '80s and '90s, and sporadically since then.  In the 21st century, she formed the band 50 Foot Wave.  She has also released many solo albums over the years, and she's authored a few books.  As she's done twice before, Hersh has paired a book and a CD for her latest work, Wyatt At The Coyote Palace.

IPR/Tony Dehner

We received around 1,800 albums this year, and we put just under 900 of those into rotation on IPR's Studio One. There's been so much incredible music released this year; it's impossible to get to all of it. Never fear! We've created a guide. 

Below, you'll find lists of favorites from 2016 from all three of IPR's Studio One Tracks hosts, alongside lists from IPR's Sean McClain and Clay Masters.

facebook.com/robertearlkeen

Houston, Texas native Robert Earl Keen graduated from Texas A&M (with a B.A. in English) in 1978.  He then moved to Austin and began performing live in various venues there.  By 1984 he had released his first album and started touring outside of Texas.  Over thirty years later, he's become one of those treasured Lone Star State troubadours, continuing to record and tour (maybe the road does go on forever).  In 1996 Keen recorded No. 2 Live Dinner at one of the quintessential Texas honky tonks, John T. Floore's Country Store in Helotes, Texas.

facebook.com/empireofthesun

Australian musicians Luke Steele (of the alternative rock band The Sleepy Jackson) and Nick Littlemore (of the electronic dance duo Pnau) first met in 2000.  They worked on various projects together before forming Empire Of The Sun in 2007.  The duo's  approach to synth pop is definitely coming from a glam rock perspective, with both members having a background in visual art.  Their live show features headdresses and elaborate stage sets.

facebook.com/pretenders

Pretenders formed in England in 1978.  The band was fronted by an American:   songwriter, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Chrissie Hynde, originally from Akron, Ohio.  Through the decades and many changes of personnel, Hynde remains the only member who has been in every incarnation of the band, although original drummer Martin Chambers has returned after an absence of several years.  Hynde moved to London in 1973, just a few years before the rise of punk rock in England.  She wrote about music, and played with various bands before The Pretenders came together.

Moby (born Richard Melville Hall, a descendant of Moby Dick author Herman Melville) has been making electronic dance music since the early 1990s.  He has had great success with many of his records, often by  bringing songcraft and melody to the genre.  Moby started out playing in punk and post-punk bands, and he brings that energy to his latest full-length album, These Systems Are Failing.  This is definitely a collection of songs rather than extended dance tracks.  Moby has long been known for his support of animal rights,  veganism, and environmentalism.

facebook.com/conoroberst

Conor Oberst is a busy, creative guy.  The Omaha native began writing songs and performing at a young age, and self-released his first solo cassette tape of songs when he was 13.  Oberst's best-known band is Bright Eyes.  Here are some more of his bands:  The Faint, Commander Venus, The Magnetas, Park Ave., Desaparecidos, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters Of Folk.  He co-founded the independent record labels Saddle Creek records and Team Love Records.

IPR/Lindsey Moon

The Eastern Iowa band Wooden Nickel Lottery returned to IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a live set on Nov. 15.  The four-piece band came to play, with a set featuring most of the songs from their sophomore album Down The Line, plus one from their debut record, and a brand new song!  It's a fine performance, and you can hear it right here!

facebook.com/phantogram

A phantogram is a type of optical illusion, and also a cool band name for the duo of Josh Carter (guitar and vocals) and Sarah Barthel (vocals and keyboards).  The two friends have known each other since junior high school, and formed their musical collaboration in 2007 in upstate New York.  At first, they called themselves Charlie Everywhere, playing gigs and recording some small label EPs.  In 2009, they changed their name to Phantogram, and released their debut album in the fall of that year.  Three is, of course, their third full-length.

facebook.com/reginaspektor

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow in 1980, where at 6 years old she began classical training on the piano.  Her family left the Soviet Union in 1989, moving to New York City, where Spektor continued her classical training and also eventually broadened her musical tastes.  In time, she began writing her own songs and performing as part of the "anti-folk" scene in New York's East Village.  She began self-releasing CDs of her music in 2001.  She signed with Sire Records in 2004, and has gone on to great success in recording and touring.

facebook.com/shovelsandrope

Husband and wife duo Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are Shovels & Rope.  Both of them are very talented and capable songwriters, lead vocalists and multi-instrumentalists.  Watching them perform (you may have caught their great set at this past summer's Hinterland Festival), one never finds oneself pining for more band members.  Shovels & Rope are a solidly roots-based band, but for them that can mean anything from folk to rockabilly, alt-country to country-punk.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Brother Trucker played two live sets for Studio One Tracks as part of our live broadcast from the Des Moines Social Club on Oct. 27.  The band is celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2017, with a new album expected early next year.  Brother Trucker played songs from that forthcoming release, plus old favorites and some well-chosen covers.  Those covers included versions of songs by some of their fellow Iowa musicians.

You can hear both live sets right here!

facebook.com/pixiesofficial

The Pixies are a very influential band in the world of indie rock.  The band's primary songwriter and vocalist Black Francis, and lead guitarist Joey Santiago both attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where the began playing music together.  Bassist Kim Deal (who left the band a few years ago) joined them in early 1986, and the band Pixies was formed.  Even though the group has been around for 30 years, Head Carrier is only their sixth studio album.

facebook.com/localnatives

The three guitarists/vocalists in Local Natives met while attending Orange County High School in California. They recruited a drummer and bass player, completing the formation of the band in 2008, with the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles becoming their home base.  Sunlit Youth is the third full-length album from Local Natives.  It was recorded over a two year period- in Thailand, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Hawaii and Ojai, California.  The new record continues to provide the three-part vocal harmonies fans have come to expect from Local Natives.

IPR/Al Schares

The eclectic quintet of female multi-instrumentalists known as Awful Purdies are celebrating their tenth anniversary as a band this year.   Group members take turns stepping up as songwriter and lead singer when they perform.  The Iowa City band played a live set at the Kum & Go Theatre venue of the Des Moines Social Club on Oct. 7, opening for Gaelynn Lea.  The show was broadcast live on IPR's Studio One Tracks.

You can listen to their wonderful set right here!

IPR/Mark Simmet

Duluth, Minnesota native Gaelynn Lea is attracting notice as the winner of NPR's second annual Tiny Desk Contest, traveling around the U.S and abroad treating listeners to her songs and her unique style of playing the violin.  The singer-songwriter's video of "Someday We'll Linger In The Sun" emerged as the winner from the 6,100 entries in the contest.  She played that song during her performance at the Kum & Go Theatre venue of the Des Moines Social Club on Oct. 7.  Gaelynn Lea's set was broadcast live on Studio One Tracks.

facebook.com/theheadandtheheart

Signs Of Light​ is the third album from The Head and The Heart.  The six-piece folk-rock band began in Seattle in the summer of 2009.  Vocalist and guitarist Josiah Johnson explained the band's name, and also gave an indication of difficult decisions involved in the group's formation when he said:  "Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, (but) you know in your heart that this (the band) is what you're supposed to do even if it's crazy."  This is their first release for Warner Brothers Records, and that could be taken as a sign of their growing success.

Back in August, we previewed several albums that would be headed our way in the coming months that we were especially looking forward to. Of course, it's impossible to list everything, and something always comes along that wasn't on our radar immediately, but catches our ears in a big way. This happened several times last month, and nothing makes us happier! Here's a few of our favorite albums from September.

Angel Olsen - My Woman

facebook.com/wilcohq

Schmilco​ is the tenth studio album from the Chicago-based band Wilco.  Wilco began in 1994, rising from the ashes of the alternative country band, Uncle Tupelo.  There have been several personnel changes along the way, with frontman Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt the only original members still in the lineup.  Alt-country remains a part of Wilco's sound, but they have ventured far beyond that description over the course of their career, with a definite adventurous and experimental side emerging from time to time.

facebook.com/angelolsenmusic

Angel Olsen was born in St. Louis, lived for a time in Chicago, and currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina.  She has recorded and toured with Bonnie "Prince" Billy as a backing singer, and has been releasing her own music since 2010.

facebook.com/ofmontreal

Innocence Reaches is the 14th album from Of Montreal, the band founded by songwriter and frontman Kevin Barnes twenty years ago in Athens, Georgia.  It doesn't seem like Of Montreal has been around for two whole decades, and that's due in part to the fact that there is no other band quite like this one.  Barnes named his group after a woman he had been in a releationship with who was "of Montreal."  Many players have come and gone through the ranks of the band over the years, but the psychedelic pop/glam rock sound has always remained true to Barnes' vision.

facebook.com/extravisionmusic

Ryan Stier performed a solo Extravision set for Studio One Tracks on Sept. 11, opening for Margaret Glaspy at Octopus on College Hill in Cedar Falls.  The Des Moines-based songwriter, vocalist and guitarist played songs from Extravison's two recent EPs.  Stier's songs have been accurately described as "psychfolk."  

You can listen to Extravision's set right here!

facebook.com/sharonjonesandthedapkings

Brooklyn-based Sharon Jones and her longtime backing group The Dap-Kings (along with other artists on their Brooklyn label, Daptone Records) have a lot to do with the soul revival of recent years.  Miss Sharon Jones! is a new documentary film, telling the story of the singer's 2013 battle with cancer, and her triumphant return to the stage around the time of the 2014 release of the Grammy-nominated album Give The People What They Want.  The soundtrack album of the film is our Featured Release this week.

facebook.com/devhynes

Freetown Sound, the new album from Blood Orange, is named after Freetown, Sierra Leone. The talented songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Devonte Hynes records and performs as Blood Orange, and Freetown is where his father was born.  Hynes himself was born in London, where he began his music career as a part of the edgy punk-dance group Test Icicles.  He moved to New York City in 2007, and began releasing music as Lightspeed Champion.  By late 2009, he was Blood Orange.  Freetown Sound is the third full-length Blood Orange release.

IPR/Al Schares

Singer-songwriter Liz Moen played two generous sets for Studio One Tracks on Sept. 1.  We were broadcasting live from the Des Moines Social Club, and the audience was treated to Moen's impressive voice and solid guitar playing.  As a songwriter, she draws on her experiences living and working in Iowa City to inform many of her songs.  In addition to songs from her self-titled debut release, Moen also played some new songs she's written, plus some well-chosen covers.  

Enjoy these sets from Liz Moen!

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