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In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Korby Lenker.

Flickr / belles glasgow

Belle and Sebastian formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996.  Of course, the first thing to mention is that there is no Belle and no Sebastian in the band.  The name comes from a French children's book that later was adapted for television.  Long-time critical favorites, Belle and Sebastian have released their ninth full-length record, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance.  Stuart Murdoch is the lead singer and songwriter in the group, lending his distinctive vocals and literate lyrics to their songs.

Conventional wisdom has it that the voters participating in the Grammy Awards are often out of touch with current music.  Those voters work in various creative and technical areas of the recording industry, nominating the finalists and determining the winner in each category.  One theory is that they vote based on name recognition, therefore they may be  biased toward artists that have been around longer.  A famous example of this is Jethro Tull winning the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance award over Metallica in 1988.

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In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Tallgrass.

The Portland, Oregon band The Decemberists have been creating their own particular brand of folk-rock/baroque pop since 2000.  What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is their seventh full-length release.  The Decemberists have maintained their folky traditional instrumentation and idiosyncratic approach to writing lyrics, even as they have edged closer to being a "mainstream" band.  Lead vocalist and principal songwriter Colin Meloy is the frontman in the group.

Greg Slick

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Snowblink.

Instagram: Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney formed in Olympia, Washington in 1994, and by the turn of the century the trio had come to be recognized as one of the best rock bands in America.  They released seven studio albums between 1994 and 2005.  In 2006, Sleater-Kinney went on a hiatus to work on individual projects and also to simply live their lives.  Corin Tucker (vocals and guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar and vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums) quietly reunited about a year ago to write and record the songs for a new album, No Cities To Love.  Their common aim was to reinvent the band.

Hey, does anyone remember the Shadow?  The  mysterious crime-fighter with psychic powers began his long-running career in the 1930's, as a pulp magazine character, and also as the subject of a memorable dramatic radio program (voiced for a time by Orson Welles).  The radio shows and the striking visual image of The Shadow have never really gone away, just faded into the...shadows.  The character certainly made an impression on Minneapolis/St Paul-area brothers Pat and Larry Hayes, who founded their band in 1969 and named it after The Shadow's alter-ego, Lamont Cranston.

Graham Gardner

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with The River Monks.

Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is the fifth full-length album Noah Lennox has released under his nom de plume Panda Bear.  Baltimore native Panda Bear is a co-founding member of Animal Collective, a band known for their musical creativity and experimentation.  The multi-instrumentalist has indicated that death and personal growth are lyrical themes of the new record.  The music has been aptly described as "swirling" and "as pure as a babbling brook." 

NPR Tiny Desk Concerts are intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen.  Boilen's desk is located at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC.  Past performers have included Lucinda Williams, Rubblebucket, St Paul and The Broken Bones, J. Mascis, Tweedy, Pixies, Neko Case and many more!  

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In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with The Nadas.

Gravity Well is the new album from Rose's Pawn Shop.  The Los Angeles-based, five-piece group formed in 2006, and this is their third full-length album.  The sound of Rose's Pawn Shop can be categorized as Americana leaning toward the indie rock side.  In fact, the songs on Gravity Well have been described as rousing, fierce and anthemic; the music a "stomping interpretation of alt-country and Americana songcraft." 

Elliot Tensen

The Iowa band Beverly and the Accordion performed live in IPR'S Cedar Falls studios on January 13.  The six-piece group played songs from their new release The Porch Sessions, and more.  An appreciative hometown audience responded enthusiastically to Beverly and the Accordion's Americana-flavored music.  And yes, an accordion can be heard in the mix!    

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In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Rebecca Rego.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the artist.

Philadelphia's DRGN KING (pronounced "Dragon King") began as a duo in 2009, with singer and frontman Dominic Angelella, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ritz Reynolds.  The duo later expanded to a four-piece band.  After recording a few tracks and releasing a few EP's, the debut full-length album from DRGN KING was released in 2013.  Baltimore Crush is the follow-up, with songs inspired by Angelella's youth in Baltimore, and highlighting the band's bright indie-rock sound.  

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In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer talks with Brother Trucker.

Download the podcast to find out more about the band and their Iowa-inspired music.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Kevin "BF" Burt.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the the Coralville native and his music.

The Heart Of A Dark Star is the fourth album from mr. Gnome, a married duo from Cleveland, Ohio.  The full sound of mr. Gnome's music is created by singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister.  They have been recording as mr. Gnome since 2006.  Their sound has been described as "art rock", with songs that explore fantastic and mythical subjects, and a theatrical approach to their music and stage show.

James Mercer's band The Shins began as a side project of his then primary group, Flake Music.  The Albuquerque, New Mexico band was more collaborative than The Shins, and was active for much of the 1990's.  They only released one full-length album, When You Land Here It's Time To Return, in 1997.  Because of the success of The Shins (and another Mercer project, Broken Bells), interest remains high in Flake Music.  The album's songs, remixed and reissued now on the Sub Pop label, are enjoyable guitar-based indie pop.   

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Bob Dorr & The Blue Band.

Blind Boys of Alabama formed in 1944, and have stated that their goal is to "spiritually uplift audiences."  They have released many records over the years, and Talkin' Christmas is not their first Christmas album.  It is, however, the first to feature collaborator Taj Mahal.  Taj Mahal has been putting his unique stamp on blues and world music for nearly 50 years.  In Talkin' Christmas the singers and musicians have created a special blend of gospel and R&B for the season.

TV on the Radio

Several dependable bands, some innovators and a few pleasant surprises made the list of IPR's Studio One hosts' favorite music of 2014.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with The Candymakers.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about The Candymakers' latest album, Ridiculicious.

La Isla Bonita is the twelfth full-length album from Deerhoof, a band that formed in San Francisco in 1994.  In that twenty year span, Deerhoof have produced and managed themselves, creating an avant-garde pop sound that can be equally challenging and intriguing.  Japanese-born Satomi Matsuzaki is the band's distinctive vocalist.  Inspired by the high energy, to-the-point style of the Ramones, Deerhoof reportedly recorded La Isla Bonita live in the basement of guitarist Ed Rodriguez in a "weeklong sleepover". 

IPR/Tony Dehner

Pieta Brown, along with Bo Ramsey on electric guitar, stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios on Dec. 8.  The set list included songs from the new album Paradise Outlaw.  The live set was in advance of her Dec. 12 show at Des Moines' Temple for the Performing Arts, a night of music that will also feature The Pines, and is being presented by Iowa Public Radio Studio One.  Enjoy this wonderful live performance!

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Switchback.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about Switchback's latest album, Kanoka.

For over two decades, the musical partnership of Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack, known as Switchback, has been entertaining audiences around the world with their unique American Roots ~ Celtic Soul blend of music. 

Ariel Pink is the stage name of Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles.  He studied visual art for a time at the California Institute of the Arts, and has been writing songs for most of his life.  He began making lo-fi recording of his songs in the mid-1990's, and has recorded over 500 songs since then, most of them unreleased commercially.  The new album Pom Pom is an entertaining mix of accessible pop songs and Frank Zappa style eccentricity.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Based in Central Iowa, Unknown Component is the project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Keith Lynch.  Unknown Component made a return visit to Studio One on Dec. 4, playing songs from the brand new release Arbitrary Ambiguity and more.  With a couple of guitars, a laptop and a few other pieces of gear, Lynch produced the full sound of Unknown Component.  You can listen right here!

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Greg Klyma.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about Klyma's latest album, Another Man's Treasure.