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Review: The Lonelyhearts / Caleb Engstrom – The Winter Club Split


Hey! All of you Iowa City inhabitants from near and far, listen up! A few adopted sons, The Lonelyhearts and Caleb Engstrom, have a few songs they’d like you to hear.  So lick your chops and dive in for a hefty helping of local tunes, because the Winter Club Split is what you’re in need of to curb that music craving, and not a minute to soon for Fall, ah, I mean Winter that is. The Lonelyhearts half of the Winter Club Split was recorded in Fort Collins, CO and mixed in Iowa City. Caleb Engstrom’s half was recorded and mixed in Iowa City.

The Lonelyhearts boast keyboardist/vocalist/local music aficionado Andre Perry, and guitarist/vocalist John Lindenbaum of Fort Collins, Co. Perry’s vocals range from baritone (reminiscent of The National’s Matt Beringer) to a light-hearted croon, while Lindenbaum’s voice provides a uniformly whispery ambiance, and the two forces mesh perfectly. Perry’s synth/keyboard compliments wonderfully with Lindenbaum’s folky 12-string guitar. At time’s you’ll catch glimpses of Arcade Fire Neon Bible-esque dark organic synth tones, especially on “Post-Soviet” and “A Quick Nine Holes Before Lunch”. “Autumn Percussion” focuses more on the duo’s interweaving and harmonic vocals while Lindenbaum takes the lead on guitar. “Pass Like Night” rounds up the four-song take and starts with gentle strumming as it continuously builds tension with its emotional lyric’s and eventually explodes into a fantastic climax with Perry and Lindenbaum bringing their voices and respective instruments together. Each track is unique and intricate.

Singer/songwriter and Iowa native Caleb Engstrom is no stranger to the Iowa City music scene. His brooding lyrics, light and lonesome voice, and atmospheric songs fare comparably to such acts as; Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, and Nick Drake. He has also played with the likes of Jose Gonzalez, Pedro the Lion, Owen, and Bon Iver. Engstrom succeeds in laying out four diverse folk/indie tracks on the Winter Club Split that display his range, diversity, and talent as an upcoming young musician. Engstrom abandons the wide variety of instruments found on his previous albums; horns, piano, accordion, violin, bells, etc., and instead creates four stripped-down tracks focusing on his voice (often with distortion), guitar, and bongo prowess.  The lo-fi emotional vibe that Engstrom creates is earthy, sincere, and easy on the ears, track after track. If you haven’t heard this man yet, now is the time to start.

The Winter Club Split is currently available in physical form through Mission Freak Records. The digital release (iTunes, eMusic, Amazon) will be available in late-November / early-December via Mission Freak Records. Check out the sample tracks from the Winter Club Split below.


The Lonelyhearts “Post-Soviet” The Winter Club Split

The LonelyheartsCaleb EngstromMission Freak Records

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