Studio One

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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.

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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.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer welcomes the signature pop melodies and tight harmonies of The Well Pennies to Iowa. 

The folk duo, who recently relocated from Los Angeles to Des Moines, earned national acclaim for their rendition of the classic Beatles tune "All My Loving," featured on a 2013 release called "Beatles Reimagined." 

Download the free podcast below to hear The Well Pennies play their Beatles takes and well-crafted original music that spans the length of their careers. 

IPR's Studio One Underground series for 2017 has begun! On Thursday the 5th, we returned to the Des Moines Social Club for our monthly live broadcast, with our guests the Surf Zombies performing two terrific sets. While we were at it, we talked about the band's recent honors bestowed upon them by the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and an Iowa brewery. And as if all that weren't enough, the Surf Zombies were kind enough to help jump-start the IPR van at the end of an especially cold January night!

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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.

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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.

Paul Sabin Photo

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with Iowa music legend  and visual artist Tony Brown. 

Listen to and download the free podcast below to hear Brown impressive command of a wide-range of styles from old school Blues to R&B, Soul, Ska, Reggae, Jazz, Rock, Fold, Funk and Latin flavors. Plus, here incredible stories of Brown's childhood in Waterloo, as well as his experiences abroad. 

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! 

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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.

In this special, outdoor episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa music greats David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join together to perform at IPR's second annual Great Iowa Potluck. 

Download the free podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the pair about their storied music careers, their Iowa upbringings, and their new project Middle Western. 

Kari Bedford

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Illinois singer-songwriter Ben Bedford tells  host Ben Kieffer about the his background in history has shaped his songwriting. 

Listen in to the podcast below to hear tunes from Bedford's new album, "The Pilot and the Flying Machine.

Courtesy of Bob Dorr

Looking for the best of Blues in 2016? Bob Dorr, frontman for Bob Dorr and the Blue Band and host of Beatles Medley, Backtracks, and Blue Avenue on Iowa Public Radio, shares his thoughts on this year's releases.

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.

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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.

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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.

Harmonious Wail

Harmonious Wail paid a visit to The Folk Tree on Sunday, December 4th. This Madison, Wisconsin-based trio has traveled the world sharing their gypsy/jazz/acoustic/swing sounds. Graced by the exquisite vocals of Maggie Delaney-Pothoff and the sparkling mandolin of Sims Delaney-Pothoff, and anchored by the virtuoso bass playing of Jeff Weiss, their music brightened the winter afternoon for us. Learn more about them at wail.com.

Iowa City folk rock group The Recliners channels recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan from The Java House stage in downtown Iowa City on this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Join the group in reminiscing on their favorite Dylan stories, moments, and most importantly, songs, by downloading the free podcast below. 

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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.

In this episode of Iowa Public Radio Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa blues icon Kevin B.F. Burt stops by The Java House in downtown Iowa City to croon and belt his legendary tunes. 

Lend an ear to the podcast below to hear some of Burt's new works, as well as some searing covers of B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and more. 

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.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines powerhouse Bonne Finken trades laid back acoustic arrangements for grand, sprawling electronic tunes. 

Download the podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with Finken on her decision to go electronic. 

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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!

Dubuque trio Cranes and Vultures brings its eclectic take on folk and alt-country to The Java House in downtown Iowa City in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Download and listen to the podcast below to hear the band chat with "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer and play some of their intriguing, highly original tunes. 

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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.

In this boot-stompin' episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa's old-time jazz group The Dandelion Stompers stopped by The Java House in downtown Iowa City- and the toes were tapping. 

Lend an ear to the downloadable podcast below for some jazz standards steeped in New Orleans tradition.

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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.

Iowa City's favorite bluesman, Kevin B.F. Burt, will take up a familiar role on the Java Blend stage for another electrifying performance of his award-winning roots and blues. 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. this Friday, November 4th, to hear the booming voice and distinct guitar playing that has cemented Burt as legend in blues music. 

Twin Cities jam band Frogleg crammed all seven of its members onto a tiny Java House stage for this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," so it's no wonder why their music sounds so tight. 

Join Java Blend host Ben Kieffer and listen in to the free podcast below to hear the group's stellar musicianship, infectious grooves, and dazzling chemistry. 

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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.

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