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Cedar Rapids, IA | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Cedar Rapids, IA
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Pop Indie




"Top 10 Indie rock releases of 2015"

2015 surely had plenty of indie rock artists around the globe making big noise through social media. Whether they belong to any of the genre’s myriad varieties—dreamy, grungy, folky, jangly, or anything in between—these artists simply deliver what the mainstream fails to offer. Since I’ve started reviewing new music, I began realizing that there exists a great deal of emerging talent eager to be heard. As a result, my horizons have expanded tremendously.

With this year close to wrapping up, I’ve decided to compile 10 acclaimed releases from such artists who, regardless of success, are still fairly under the radar. Now with that in mind, the entries listed here aren’t necessarily included in well-known alternative zines, although they have earned considerable internet-based recognition in this year alone. Not only was it difficult to pick the top 10, but also feature a balance of sounds that effectively encompass the indie rock genre. Take what you can from this list, and remember, don’t forget to plug these artists as often as you can!

1. Dickie – Self-titled (Released August 7)

Prior to hearing this duo, I’d assumed would be something similar to the Hansard-Irglova project, The Swell Seasons: two musicians of the opposite sex from contrasting musical backgrounds meet, but bond through common interest and eventually develop a romance. However, I was wrong, and for good reason. What singer-guitarist Dick Prall and violinist Kristina Priceman share transcends beyond fickle romantic affairs; it is a closely knit and honest to goodness friendship that glimmers through each note of instrumentation. Prall knows no reservations or bounds, simply putting his full soul on display. At the same time, Priceman senses exactly when to accentuate his anecdotes, either by her masterfully assertive violin, or by her nurturing blanket of a voice. All qualities considered, this is truly an album for the millennial generation. - Jake Kussmaul

"Album Review: Dickie S/T (Out August 7)"

As the 90s began to wane, a late 20-something singer-guitarist Dick Prall gained fair notoriety on the Chicago indie circuit. Some 25 minutes west of his location, a much younger Kristina Priceman was well into her violin studies at the Northwestern String Academy. Whether by fate or sheer coincidence, the duo were united years later by their genuine passion for rock and roll, and formed Dickie in late 2014. In less than two weeks, the band will debut their self-titled album, and the anticipation is worth it.

Dickie (the album) plays like a road trip through the tribulations of Prall’s childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. His memories are long faded sketches that Priceman not only redraws, but coats with fresh color and newfound depth. Now 45, Prall tells it all from the perspective of a grown adult—full of wisdom and great insight. Priceman exhibits a complementary maturity. Her violin melodies exfoliate the scars of her bandmate’s past, while also having a foreground presence that ensures their alliance. On the surface, one may compare this dynamic to that of Glen Hansard’s and Marketa Irglova’s The Swell Season. But rather than explore a short term romance, Dickie maintains a strong, enduring friendship.

Right away I thought the album’s first track, “45”, would be the single to introduce the band to the world. Besides having a catchy rhythm, it comes from someone with proven experience; both in life and in music. The song’s sundrenched guitars are contrasted with lyrics that speak of a struggling familial unity. A dramatization of Prall’s early life in a super-8 style montage would make the ideal music video. I really believe this song really has the potential to find decent rotation on pop radio, and leave a lasting, thought provoking impression on even the most casual listeners. Another track I find worthy of carrier single status is “Pop pop pop.” Sometimes, people just need that song that will both lift their spirits and inspire them. I’d consider this an anthem for those youths who face bullying and cyberbullying on a frequent basis. From the way the song builds, it allows the listener to gather courage and stand up that very threat. It has a simple, straightforward message in its chorus (“Turn and look away”) that will definitely resonate and encourage a healthy means of handling similar situations. “Change Your Mind” is the ideal song for young couples who experience that seemingly protracted period of uncertainty. The violin accompaniment on the chorus is essential in encapsulating the feeling of heartache. Whether Prall was chasing some form of validation from the other, or felt that his options have run out, he still yearns for that gleam of hope. And while time may not heal everything, he continues to move forward.

In the second group of tracks, Prall grows beyond the security of home, and desires to seek out his own space. “Happier Me” is easily a highlight from that section, dealing with his redefining of accomplishment. Moments that were once considered milestones are now seen as simple expectations in retrospect, and the inevitability of growing old comes closer into view. During that point, one must come to grips with the notion that those who were once an integral part of their life will expectedly drift away. In the song’s chorus, Priceman’s harmonies are beautifully woven over Prall’s as they sing, “Ain’t it amazing how the skin can fade?” suggesting that he has come to grips with his own mortality. The final track on the album, “In These Shoes,” has Prall accepting his flawed nature from a ghostly and aloof perspective. It effectively brings forward the idea that even those who are normally accessible are bound to become heavyhearted. Even if the album ends on a rather melancholy note, I feel solace knowing that I can relate with Prall’s life experiences.

Overall, Dickie is full of supremely crafted and masterfully executed tunes. Prall and Priceman exhibit a constant fluidity, and the listener is able to capture the cohesiveness of a collaboration done right. They have the strength to contend with popular alternative acts of the day, and may stand out for having one of the finest debut albums of this year. Although nothing is for certain yet, the band has my vote, and will most likely find a wider audience who are willing to experience music straight from the heart. - Jake Kussmaul

"Dick Prall: Dickie"

"Prall is a songwriter of the caliber of my very favorite members of the Bruised Hearts Club -- the late Elliot Smith, the aforementioned Glen Phillips, Ben Folds, Cat Power, and Sufjan Stevens. With Priceman as partner in composition and foil to his moodiness DICKIE is a team that has produced one of my favorite albums both in Prall's catalog as well as this year." - Mike Roeder

"The It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2015"

"We’ve made it through another year of music. 2015 was another year of the music industry trying to figure out the future. Heavy hitters like Taylor Swift and Adele removed their music from online streaming services like Spotify– which might be interpreted as an ego move on both parts. Jay-Z’s Tidal enjoyed a bit of press due to Prince releasing two albums exclusively on it, though I still don’t know anyone who is using it. Adele’s last-quarter release of her much-anticipated 25 album has just surpassed 5 million copies sold. There is a lot of debate about the significance of this as it applies to the general health of the industry. Ultimately, though, I don’t think you can use this as any kind of barometer– certainly not an indicator of “rebounding.” One thing is for certain, though, her 50+ date tour in 2016 will be the top grossing.

In other re-warmed news, a reformed Grateful Dead with Trey Anastasio as “Jerry” played some high-grossing shows in LA and Chicago showing that baby boomers and Gen X’ers are willing to shell out lots of money to recapture even a brief glimpse of their youth. The shows seemed like a fitting celebration of 50 years and a kind of closure to the promise of the remainder of the band getting back together. The following “Dead and Friends” tour with John Mayer as “Jerry” has been benefiting from the exposure and in my opinion are an improved version of the Dead. His vocals and guitar work are top-notch and add a real polish to the proceedings.

Looking this list over, it shows that I spent most of 2015 listening to local artists. Iowa has really been stepping up its game for music and we’ve got some of the best music around. There were a lot of notable releases outside of Iowa, but I just didn’t find myself putting any of them on repeat. It says a lot– you don’t have to go far from your back yard to get world-class music.

Looking over other Best of Lists, I see some albums that I listened to and thought were good, but they just didn’t stick with me: The Decemberists – What A Wonderful World, What A Terrible World, Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell, Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear, Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color.

Here is the list in no particular order–

Dickie – Self Titled : Dick Prall moved back to Iowa and started a new project with Kristina Priceman crafting a wonderful string-wrapped package of retro-inspired pop rock. Somewhere between the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly sits this collection of autobiographical songs with heart." - Mike Roeder

"CD Review: Dickie S/T"

What happens when an artist spends a lot of time doing one thing day after day and soon finds out they want more? That person starts looking for a new direction for that artform. That is the best way to describe the situation for the singer-songwriter named Dick Prall. After years of performing music on his own, Prall wanted something new and found that new direction with a musician who was just coming up in the music industry. That musician, violinist Kristina Priceman, made for the perfect partner as the two created a new partnership and a new musical outfit named Dickie.
With the new duo, Dick Prall and Kristina Priceman create an outfit that combines elements of pop music with orchestral influences. The album contains ten songs that seem readymade for the radio. That commercial combination can be heard on Dickie’s self-titled release.
The self-titled release from Dickie begins with the track “45”. After an intro that lasts for about twenty seconds, the track becomes a song about looking back at events throughout a life, “45” asks the very poignant question of “Is this the end of it all?” The track’s thought provoking lyrics are matched with music that brings to mind such bands as The Left Banke (“Walk Away Renee”). The music combines a folk-rock feel with plenty of strings. The track feels like it would have been right at home in the sixties while still containing modern influences. The track keeps the interest of the listener throughout its six-minute playtime.
While the track “45” contains an orchestral feel to its folk-rock musical base, the next track changes the direction of the music on the release. The song “Breathing Down My Neck Again” begins on the same musical tempo as “45” before the track drastically changes pace. The song has a stronger and more energetic approach as the song becomes a straight-out rock and roll track. “Breathing Down My Neck Again” contains a strong guitar part and a strong violin part at the same time. The inclusion of the keyboards on the track adds even more to the track. The resulting combination creates a song on the release that rocks and still has a lot of beauty in the music. While the band is not promoting the track as one of the singles, the song is still one of the highlights on the release.
With the combination of musical elements on the track “Back to the Moon,” the track feels a bit like a combination of a track from the Glam Rock era mixed with some influence from Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). The orchestral feel from violinist Kristina Priceman in the track mixes well with the energetic feel of the beat provided by Dick Prall. The track has a very catchy chorus and is one of the stronger tracks on the release.
The self-titled release from Dickie continues with the song “Change Your Mind”. The song features the keyboard as the main instrument with a light drumbeat and a nice amount of violin to complete the sound of the track. The lyrics of the song about making up one’s mind go well with the light feel of the music. “Change Your Mind” is easily the lightest track on the album up to that point.
Another track on the album that stands out is the song “For Gold”. The later track on the release features a light pop-rock feel. The track feels a little more current than most of the tracks on the album with the inclusion of a strong drum machine beat to the music. The song could be included with today’s Americana playlists and radio formats. The track is one of the standout tracks on the release.
Dick Prall and Kristina Priceman create a strong track in “Unbelievable”. The track once again mixes an equal amount of rock and instrumental influences to create the track. The song features a strong rock guitar from Prall with the violin from Priceman that come together to form a song that brings to mind a sound that might remind some of something from a band like Coldplay. The late track ends up being one of the best moments on the album.
From time to time, you end up finding that one album that needs to be put on and just allowed to play out. This is one of those releases. From the first note, the self-titled release from Dickie is a pleasure to listen to. The ten tracks on the release work well as a whole as each song on the release seems to beg the listener to continue listening.
The self-titled release from Dickie will be released on August 7, 2015. Until then, you can experience some of the music from the new release HERE. - Matheson Kamin


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


DICKIE is a contrast in design.  To pair a mid-forties gray-mopped “hang-it-up-already” pop songwriter and a striking mid-twenties classically trained violinist is simply a formula for deserved obscurity. But in practice, the balance proves a brilliant alliance.

Veteran tunesmith Dick Prall has taken his wares and shared them with violinist Kristina Priceman to create a collection of dark, gorgeous, and oft-times moony sing-alongs.  The self-titled record comes in like a bellowing newborn, but settles into a pace of dynamic ebb and flow as it ages and ends with a Roy Orbison-styled recount of hopeful love that never bleeds into the saccharine.

Dick has a long history of fashioning accessible, viral tunes and inserting them with lilting melodies.  It started with his 1998 release Somewhere About Here, prompting No Depression to dub his debut “a track-by-track monster.”  His follow-up record, Dressing Up the Failure, under the moniker ‘Starch Martins,’ brought performances with Jon BrionMike Doughty, and Justin Townes Earle.  Fizzlebuzzie gained further national and international attention with features in such media outlets as NME.com and Performing Songwriter, who claimed the record “a box of chocolates for your ears.”  The beautifully alarming and infectious Weightless with its single “The Cornflakes Song,” featuring Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, garnered radio spins across the country.  It also landed a spot on Paste Magazine’s CD compilation for their 2007 year-end issue. Popmatters.com weighed in on the album adding “(he) crafts fault-free melodies that make the listener very eager to find out what’s around the corner.” On the self-produced Inc. EP, Prall fused lush vocals with straightforward guitars to assemble a quintet of oddly pop-fueled gems.  His final “pre-DICKIE” venture was his studio collaboration with Pat Sansone (Wilco, Autumn Defense), producing three whip-smart singles that were golden online giveaways.

Around the time a twenty-five-year old Prall began teaching himself guitar, a five-year-old Priceman started her classical training on violin. Winning competitions and soloing with orchestras brought her to Peck School of the Arts in Milwaukee, WI where as a freshman she snuck off to begin a secret touring life as a rock musician. Nine years on the road has taken her around the world sharing stages and performing with the likes of Jackson BrowneEdward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. What pulls her into the DICKIE pairing is that she’s not simply providing texture – she’s an integral lead instrument who fills the landscape with meticulously clever parts and ensures that every note resonates the author’s intent.

This solid effort is a matching of Prall’s personal experience with Priceman’s ability to emphasize the storylines with surgical beauty. He lived them, and she punctuates those truths. Her string arrangements – even her voice – wrap around his biographical narrative as endearing support to the misfortune he so attractively delivers.

The contrasts are certainly apparent on the surface of the DICKIE partnership, but underneath are where the strengths dwell and their first offering is a resounding testament to this compelling union.

Band Members