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.

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Thee Oh Sees began as guitarist and vocalist John Dwyer's side project, eventually evolving into a full band with various personnel changes along the way.  Dwyer relocated from Providence, Rhode Island to California in the late 1990's.  He became active in the San Francisco indie rock scene, playing in several bands, and releasing his experimental home recordings under names like Orinoka Crash Suite, OCS and Orange County Sound.  Since 2008, the name has been Thee Oh Sees.  

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The progeny of Apple Corps Ltd. founders, The Beatles, are apples that evidently didn’t fall far from the tree. The sons have taken up their fathers' trade.  Of course, the weight of such an endeavor is almost too ridiculous to contemplate, with the Fab Four holding such a lofty place in the hearts and minds of the music-loving world.  With the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in the U.S. this year, and the release of Sean Lennon’s new project, let’s consider the work of the sons.

the Soil and the Sun

  The Soil And The Sun are a seven-piece band from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  They were in Cedar Falls on Saturday, May 3 to perform at the College Hill Music Festival, and IPR had the opportunity to bring them in to record a live Studio One set.  They describe their sound as "experiential spiritual folk-rock/New Mexican space music."  That's probably as good a label as any for this beautiful, intricate, grooving music.  Enjoy this podcast of The Soil And The Sun!       

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The Wye Oak was the honorary Maryland state tree, believed to have been over 460 years old before it went down in a thunderstorm in 2002.  Perhaps aspiring to the awesomeness of their namesake, the band Wye Oak formed in Baltimore in 2006 (originally calling themselves Monarch).  Jenn Wasner is the vocalist and guitarist.  Andy Stack is the drummer and keyboard player, and adds backup vocals.  On their fourth full-length record, Shriek, the duo feature more synths and drum machines, and less guitars.

Mac DeMarco is a Canadian songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.  Born in British Columbia (and living in Brooklyn since last year), DeMarco has been making music since 2008, self-releasing a series of albums under the name Makeout Videotape.  In 2011 he signed with the Captured Tracks label and began releasing his music as Mac DeMarco.  Salad Days is his second full-length record.  The tracks have a definite home-made, deliberately paced feel, yet his sound is tuneful and accessible.  DeMarco claims to still use the same guitar he bought for $30 when he was sixteen!

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In the great tradition of art school bands (mainly in England, but Talking Heads also come to mind), the members of Future Islands started playing music together while they were art students at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, approximately a decade ago.  There have been personnel changes along the way, and a move to Baltimore.  Then came the release of the first Future Islands full-length album in 2008, establishing the New Wave-inspired synthpop sound they have been refining ever since.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Land Of Blood And Sunshine are a band from Marshalltown, Iowa with three full-length records out, and more new music on the way.  They are appearing at a variety of venues across Iowa in the coming weeks, and brought their full (7 piece) band sound to IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a live set on April 16.  Enjoy this Land Of Blood And Sunshine Studio One podcast! 

Flickr: Seth Anderson

Spring will be sticking around for good any day now, and then summer will be right around the proverbial corner.  That puts one in mind of (among other things) new music! 

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Arriving a bit early to be a summertime record, Tacocat's second album NVM​ can certainly fit the bill as a fun, fun, fun springtime record!  Emerging out of the Pacific Northwest and based in Seattle, the female-fronted (Emily Nokes on  lead vocals, Lelah Maupin on drums, Bree McKenna on bass, lone male Eric Randall on guitar), Tacocat deliver with short, punchy power pop songs and sweet harmonies.

IPR/Andrew Arganbright

The Des Moines-based band (with Davenport connections) Brother Trucker brought their roots-rock Americana sound to IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a crowd-pleasing live set on April 10.  Andy Fleming (lead vocals/guitar), Mike Fitzpatrick (lead guitar/vocals), Lyle Kevin Hogue (bass), Jim Viner (drums) and Matt Jesson (keyboards) showcased some of their best songs with road-refined musicianship! Listen here for the complete performance, including a song that only the studio audience got to hear!

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The War On Drugs formed in Philadelphia in 2005, with founding members Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile.  Vile left for a solo career following the release of The War On Drugs' debut album in 2008, and the band has included a few other members over the years, with songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Granduciel the only constant.  The new record, Lost In The Dream, is the third full-length release for The War On Drugs, furthering the band's appealing blend of indie-rock and classic rock.

Black Lips

Black Lips formed in 1999 in Dunwoody, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta, while founding members Cole Alexander (guitar) and Jared Swilley (bass) were still in high school.  Drummer Joe Bradley joined a few months later, and lead guitarist Ian Saint Pe' joined in 2004.  After releasing records for other labels, Black Lips signed with Vice Records in 2007, releasing their new Underneath The Rainbow on that label.

IPR/Tony Dehner

In anticipation of the April 1 release of their new record Tomboys On Parade, the Waterloo-based band TWINS joined me for an exuberant March 27 in-studio performance on Studio One.  The band (lead vocalists/guitarists Joel and Harper Sires, drummer/vocalist Luke Sires and bassist/vocalist Devin Ferguson) were in fine form, playing Tomboys On Parade songs and more, including an encore that was not part of the live broadcast, but was heard by the studio audience.  Here is their set, complete with encore and my conversation with TWINS.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Iowa band John June Year stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a high energy in-studio performance on March 25.  Their music has been described as filling the gap between British guitar rock, the raw and artsy sounds of the Velvet Underground, the early 2000's garage rock revival of bands like the Strokes, and contemporary torch-bearers such as the Arctic Monkeys.  You'll hear those influences in this live set, plus a Monkees cover included among their original songs! 

John June Year, from Clinton, Iowa (and currently residing in Cedar Falls) join me for a live in-studio set on Tuesday, March 25, beginning around 7:15 pm.  John June Year fills the gap between British guitar rock, the raw and artsy sounds of the Velvet Underground, the early 2000's garage rock revival of bands like the Strokes, and contemporary indie rock torch-bearers such as the Arctic Monkeys.  The free show will be on the third floor of the Communication Arts Center on the UNI campus in Cedar Falls.

The Waterloo, Iowa band Twins are about to release the  follow-up to their 2012 album, Funny Faces.  The new record, Tomboys On Parade, was self-produced by the band at Jealous Dog Studios in Cedar Falls, with Al Eacret engineering the recording sessions.  Eacret mixed the album along with Twins lead vocalist and guitarist, Joel Sires.  The line-up of Twins also includes Luke Sires on drums, Harper Sires on guitar and Devin Ferguson on bass.

Flickr: Jason Persse

Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, began her career as a member of The Polyphonic Spree.  She formed her own band in 2006, and released her debut album the following year.  After a couple more full-length records, she collaborated with David Byrne on Love This Giant.  Byrne and St. Vincent toured together, wowing the crowd at last year's 80/35 Festival with a tight and celebratory show.  The new album, St. Vincent, showcases the next steps in Clark's musical evolution, with smart, accessible songwriting and ear-pleasing innovative songs.

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James Mercer is the lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter in The Shins.  Brian Burton (also known as Danger Mouse) is the artist and producer with many notable projects on his resume.  With their band Broken Bells, the two artists combine their considerable musical credibility with great success.  The second full-length Broken Bells album is After The Disco.  For the new record, the band's atmospheric synth pop is augmented by a four-piece choir and seventeen-piece string orchestra. 

Flickr: Seth Anderson

Winter keeps dragging on, and here at Studio One we've got Cabin Fever! While we wait out these last few weeks of cold and snow, here are the top songs and bands keeping us warm and thinking about summer!

Flickr: Modern Creature

Beck is known for his sonically adventurous recordings, creating anticipation for each new release since he can go in so many different directions.  His twelfth studio album, Morning Phase, is drawing comparisons to his Sea Change record.   It's even being called a "companion piece" to that very successful 2002 release.  Many of the same musicians from Sea Change are back, and the songs are meditative and gorgeous in their use of vocal harmonies and  occasional string sections.

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Hospitality formed in Brooklyn, NY in 2007, with Amber Papini (vocals, guitar, chief songwriter), Brian Betancourt (bass) and Nathan Michel (percussion).  Their debut full-length album of infectious indie pop, Hospitality, was released in early 2012 on the venerable indie label Merge Records.  Two years later we have the second album, Trouble, also on Merge.  Hospitality's sound has evolved on this new release, becoming deeper and richer.

    

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Minneapolis singer/songwriter Caroline Smith and her band stopped by Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Falls studios on Feb. 18 to perform music from her new album Half About Being A Woman.  Raised in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, Smith moved to Minneapolis and formed Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps.  The band released their debut full length album in 2008, describing their music as "folk with an indie twist."  Two more records followed, and last fall Half About Being A Woman was released, this time as simply a Caroline Smith album.

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Nick Waterhouse grew up in the ocean side city of Huntington Beach, known for it's surf culture.  He established his musical sensibilities in the middle of the burgeoning southern California Psych-Garage scene, while retaining his fondness for American Rhythm & Blues.  His new record is titled Holly.  As NPR has noted, Nick Waterhouse "draws from the classic sound of '50's American pop with a distinctive voice of his own, shouting and growling with infectious vigor."

    

carolinesmithcarolinesmith.com

 Mark Simmet will be hosting Minneapolis singer/songwriter Caroline Smith for a live performance in the Cedar Falls studios of Iowa Public Radio on Tuesday night, Feb. 18.  Smith and her band the Good Night Sleeps released their debut full length album in 2008, describing their music as "folk with an indie twist."  Two more records followed, and last fall Smith released her latest album, Half About Being A Woman.  Her sound now has an irresistible neo-soul, R&B feel.  

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  Be listening for Iowa Public Radio exclusive live recordings of one of the original British Invasion bands, The Zombies, from their very well-received show last September at the Ames City Auditorium.  The performance was a highlight of last year's Maximum Ames Music Festival.  The Zombies, including founding members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, are known for such classic hits as "She's Not There" and "Time Of The Season."  The band runs through all of their hits, plus album tracks old and new, and hits that Argent had apart from The Zombies.

Dum Dum Girls is began as Dee Dee's (Kirstin Gundred) bedroom recording project, and she remains the main force in the band.  In fact, for the third full-length album Too True, Dee Dee plays and sings nearly everything herself.  Dum Dum Girls began in Los Angeles in 2008, with the name inspired by an album by The Vaselines titled Dum Dum, and also by Iggy Pop's song "Dum Dum Boys".  Too True expands on the noisy and romantic guitar pop sound of Dum Dum Girls.

Stephen Malkmus was the influential songwriter and singer in Pavement.  When that group went on hiatus in 1999, Malkmus formed the Jicks.  Current members of The Jicks include Mike Clark, Joanna Bolme and Jake Morris.  The new Wig Out at Jagbags​ is the sixth Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album, with Malkmus' distinctive wordplay and jam/punk guitar style prominent.

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The Comfort Kings stopped by Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Falls studios for a live set on Jan. 16.  The band is a part of the latest resurgence in bands with strong roots in folk music forms.  In recent years, bands like Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Civil Wars, the Avett Brothers, Bon Iver and the Lumineers have been bringing traditional acoustic sounds to receptive listeners.  

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Singer/songwriter Damien Jurado has been recording music in his hometown of Seattle since the mid-1990s. 

  He began by releasing his lo-fi folk recordings on cassette.  Over the years Jurado has added more production and sonic techniques to his sound, all the while retaining the acoustic core of his music.  Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son offers an invitation to the listener to interpret the religious themes of the record.

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For their new record Foreverly, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, and his partner for this project Norah Jones, respectfully offer their own versions of all twelve tracks from the Everly Brothers 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.  They honor the spirit and the fine harmonies of Phil and Don on this project, released just a few weeks before the January 3rd passing of Phil Everly.

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