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Iowa City, Iowa, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Iowa City, Iowa, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Indie




"Iowa City's Halfloves bring new sound to Englert"

Iowa City indie rock band Halfloves doesn't seem much different than a normal group of friends.

Sitting together at Coralville's Waterstreet Coffee Bar 12 nights before the biggest concert of their lives, the five-piece collection of twentysomethings mocked each others driving habits and joked about that one time they had to cancel a night of recording their new self-titled album because "someone" showed up drunk.

Friday night, the Halfloves — previously know as The Olympics — will perform at The Englert Theatre, the biggest venue the band has played yet. Not only that, the concert marks the release of their self-titled album. The 11-track effort took nearly 30 months to record, and required musical guidance from a producer who has recorded music for Imagine Dragons.

For the five lads who have been making a name for themselves by playing shows at every venue possible in Iowa City over the last five years, they hope the new album — with its intricate synth instrumentation and obvious admiration for what kind of fun good pop rock can have — shows off what years of musical dedication can bring.

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"We all have love for pop music," Lucas Adolphson, the band's lead guitarist said, last week at the coffee bar that was hosting an album listening party. "We turn on the radio, and we are hardly ever pleased. We want something, even if its subtle, where you can hear it and know it's something different or unique."

The self-titled album almost didn't happen, though. About two-and-a-half years ago, the then four-member band was at a crossroads. None of them had really committed their lives to making music yet. They lived together, wrote music together, played shows all over Iowa City as The Olympics together, but they hadn't really thought about making music their careers.

Trevor Polk, who plays keys for the band, went to to each member of the band — then just he, Adolphson, lead singer Jeff Roalson and drummer Noel Nissen — sat down with each of them individually and asked if they were willing to commit 100 percent to making music for their livelihoods.

"It hit me, and I said to myself, 'Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?'" Polk said. Polk often skipped classes at the University of Iowa so he could play and record music, so he realized he wanted to make music his trade.

After all the band members agreed with Polk, the decision was made. "Then this would be the time where we go make a seriously good album," Polk said.

That's about the time the band roped in the bass-playing Nate Cooper. "I had gone to their shows for a couple years. Their live performance is what really drew me in," Cooper said. One day, Adolphson invited Cooper over to the band's shared house to jam, and that was that. Cooper was in.

To make that "seriously good album," they called in producer Brandon Darner. Before Darner produced music for the popular band Imagine Dragons, he was an early member of the Des Moines metal band Slipknot. Roalson said the band had to listen to someone with that kind of musical résumé.

"We developed a cool trust with (Darner) because he had so much experience we never had," Roalson said. "He was like at sixth band member."

"Once we started working with Brandon, I feel, that's when we really formed into the band we are today," Nissen said. "We knew we all trusted each other."

That trust was what allowed them to take the news evenhandedly when Darner told the band the songs they had planned to record weren't up to snuff. Darner told them they could write better, and the band agreed. They took six months off, they had to go away and dream it all up again.

"You know who else that happened to? Adele," Polk said, jokingly referring to story that Adele had recorded music deemed not good enough between her 2011 album and her 2015 album.

But they did go back to the musical drawing board, which normally features Polk and Adolphson dreaming up hooks and melodies, the other members throwing their contributions in and Roalson finding the lyrics that fit what's going on musically.

After sixth months of dreaming up songs like the bouncy synth "It's Easy to Love," and more months of musical production for songs like the demonic choir-backed "In the Dark, Near the Exists" — which hearkens to music done by Radiohead, the legendary English alternative band all the members adore — the album was done.

Then, after a summer concert at the Blue Moose Tap House, Roalson said Englert Executive Director Andre Perry approached him after the show and asked if he'd like to play the Englert. "I didn't even know that was possible," Roalson said.

Performing in their biggest venue yet doesn't make them nervous one bit, though. They'd rather make fun of Roalson's driving abilities that devolve after midnight, or Nissen's outbursts of anger since he's seemingly the dad of the band. They've performed too many shows to get shaky ankles over a big concert.

"This is what you get after playing the crap out of Iowa City for five years," Nissen said. "Our shows, we're getting better each time, so this is going to be our best show yet."

Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, zberg@press-citizen.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg. - Iowa City Press Citizen

"Album Review: Halfloves – Self-titled"

It’s a ballsy move to rename your band after you’ve had some notoriety. The Olympics decided to go back into the studio after their 2012 album with renewed commitment. They also decided it was time to change the band name to Halfloves — as a reboot as well as to fix nagging web search problems for people trying to find them (and to avoid any issues surrounding use of that name from the International Olympic Committee).

The band has crafted a masterpiece of dark moody pop with help from trendy Iowa producer Brandon Darner (Imagine Dragons, Holy White Hounds). The new album has its roots in The Olympics, but with the firm hand of Darner the band has much more confidence and polish. A focus on melancholy keyboards and bass guitar gives the album a vibe that reminds me of the post-punk “New Romantic” New Wave sound of bands like Talk Talk and Roxy Music and, more recently Phoenix, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers (before Brandon Flowers decided to be Bruce Springsteen).

The ropeadope of pop hooks on Halfloves keep your head spinning. Every song on this album is unapologetically loaded with them. The latest single “Not Too Keen” is anchored in the percussive, muted guitars and syncopated drums. Jeff Roalson sings, “Dissatisfied with the ones with their eyes open wide,” hitting the beats the other instruments skip. The polyrhythm is nearly tribal. Then the soaring, chanting chorus hits in halftime — “I’m not too keen on those tales.”

Halfloves is the sound of a band taking their sound to the next level in pop music songwriting with hopes of taking this love to a wider audience. The occasional honest-to-goodness band makes Top 40 radio, and I think Halfloves have a shot.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 195. - Little Village


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Hailed as "the best currently active rock band in Iowa" by the Iowa Informer, indie rock outfit Halfloves offers a variety of songs on their self-titled debut album made with renowned producer Brandon Darner (Imagine Dragons, The Envy Corps). Halfloves mixes pop sensibilities with heady textures and space to create an emotionally charged sound.

Band Members