Music in Every Sound: My Top 20 Iona Songs

“Ah, so that’s where murlough23 got his screen name from! I just assumed he was really into wine or something.”

Out of all the bands I’ve ever been truly fanatical about, Iona might have been the one that was the toughest sell for friends who I hoped I could convert to fellow fans. For starters, their music generally got tagged as either “Celtic rock” or even “new age”. That generally made folks think more of Enya, and I don’t know, the Titanic soundtrack or something, rather than the more complex and often long-winded style of progressive rock that they actually made. Here in the U.S., they were marketed as a Christian rock band, which I suppose is technically correct since a lot of their music was inspired by the history of Celtic Christianity, and a the band’s members were mostly Christians, but stylistically, they were a pretty lousy fit for Christian radio in any era. And from the perspective of potential American listeners, they were an import band, with their primary audience in the U.K. and rather limited exposure in the States, carried by a Christian record label that really didn’t know how to market them, and with their albums generally having a limited print run in an age when you couldn’t simply download an album from anywhere in the world with the simple click of a mouse.

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Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow: Let the children lead the way. (And let the dads make the dad rock.)

Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Album: Come Tomorrow
Year: 2018
Grade: B-

In Brief: The DMB’s comeback after a six-year gap between albums may not be the most attention-grabbing entry in their discography, but there’s a subtle richness to a lot of the instrumentation that makes it easier to tolerate the usual bits of hedonism and outright nonsense that tend to crop up in the typical Dave Matthews lyric. The band is showing its age a bit at this point, but they also seem to be quite comfortable with that age.

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Kindo – Happy However After: What I’ve Found Is Golden

Artist: Kindo
Album: Happy However After
Year: 2018
Grade: B+

In Brief: With the name change comes an even stronger commitment to jazzy complexity, Latin rhythms, elaborate torch songs, and apparently a newfound love of electronic keyboards. It’s not my favorite variant on the Kindo sound, but it’s certainly a unique way for them to go against the flow in the current rock music climate, and they’re clearly still at the top of their game performance-wise.

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Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution: Watch this pretty girl flow


Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Album: Emily’s D+Evolution
Year: 2016
Grade: B+

In Brief: Is it jazz? Funk? Rock? R&B? Prog rock? Folk? YES! (Sort of.) However you label this bizarre mishmash of styles, it’s a jubilant celebration of a woman letting her mischievous alter ego come out to play. For me as a listener, it’s horizon-stretching in all the right ways.

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The Reign of Kindo – Play with Fire: I can’t help it if the rhythm’s right.


Artist: The Reign of Kindo
Album: Play with Fire
Year: 2013
Grade: A-

In Brief: One of the year’s best albums for sure. If you thought jazzy rock music was only good as chilled-out background noise, then you haven’t heard The Reign of Kindo.

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Calexico – Algiers: Somewhere between Havana and New Orleans… and Tucson, and Cozumel, and Mexico City…


Artist: Calexico
Album: Algiers
Year: 2012
Grade: B+

In Brief: Like an exotic city with an inherent distrust of foreigners, Algiers takes its time to let you in, but it’s an enchanting place once you get to know it.

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