Peat Moss gathers at the M-Shop

Jen Schroeder

Peat Moss doesn’t want to fit into a neat category of music such as pop or folk. In fact, lead vocalist and guitarist Brad Peterson has his own unique description of musical inclusion.

“Peat Moss is rec-room rock. It should be listened to in your dad’s basement complete with a bar, wood paneling, a puke green couch and a TV that barely works,” Peterson said.

And let’s not forget the musty smell of mildew, a bumper pool table and ping-pong balls strewn about.

Nostalgia for the days of yesteryear is the disease from which Peterson suffers. Hence the title of the band’s latest CD: Reel to Reel, to be released in April.

Peterson said the title comes from the audio format of choice in the ’50s, before the days of cassette tapes and 8-tracks (which nowadays can double as a nice coaster for beverages).

“I’m super-excited about this one,” he said. “I’m producing it myself. We’re working on good songs that are good sounding. We’re going straight to tape, not super-affected. The old-school way, the way they would have done it in the early-sixties.”

“I guess that’s what makes it special, we’re not trying to be super-clever with the recording. We want to make it sound as if you were in theÿroom with us.”

Peterson said he writes good songs and paints a good picture with words and music.

“It’s basically really good rock and roll which is quite an ambiguous term these days. You could spend a decade describing everything that rock and roll encompasses.”

He likened it to asking the question,’Ever heard the Beatles before?’ “They are a standard in themselves,” he said.

One of Peterson’s favorite bands to play with is recent buzz band Cake: “I had a great time playing with them.”

Peat Moss also has opened for Rusted Root, the Dave Matthews Band and Willie Porter.

“It’s important to realize that even though we’ve played with bands like that, we don’t necessarily sound like them,” Peterson said.

A fine-spectacled fan of Peat Moss is Elton John. While playing in New York’s hip East Village last year at a club called Brownie’s, Mr. John pulled up in his limo to see the band. He claimed to have loved Peterson’s voice.

“We are a very performance-oriented. Not only do we have good songs, we perform them very well. We’re very loose in our live arrangements . We improvise so it’s a little different every time,” Peterson said.

“We’re more entertaining than Jerry Lee Lewis after a pot of coffee.”

The rest of Peat Moss, which Peterson calls “royalty in exile,” comprises drummer Matt Walker, bassist John Schulte and guitarist Arch Alcantara.

Opening up the Peat Moss show tonight with “post-music” panache, is Iowa City’s Bottledog.

The band, which consists primarily of college students from the University of Iowa and Kirkwood College, has beenÿtogether for two and a half years, according to guitarist Femur.

Bottledog first visited Ames for the Free Tibet concert at the Maintenance Shop last fall.

“It was totally a fun place. It was the first time we’d ever played there,” Femur said.

He said he was happy to see a good crowd and that they sold more CDs at that show than at any other.

After success in sales, the next logical step would be to create more. But Bottledog is waiting to be signed with a label before entering the studio again. “We have enough material, but we’re looking for a label,” Femur said.

Bottledog has also played in Lincoln, Neb., Milwaukee and Des Moines in support of their debut CD Hot Dolphin Terror @ Chirpgobble. The CD was released last May on Precision Records and has had some success. One record store in Des Moines recently sold out of the disc.

Femur describes Bottledog’s sound as basically genreless. “Taken from what’s left over from all genres, it has been labeled in two ways, post-music and avante-kitsch,” he said.

Listeners of Bottledog’s disc will hear some brief musical interludes, such as “Racing Cars,” between tracks. Femur described them as totally random.

“A lot of them are stuff we’ve done individually on four-track recorders at home…or some while we were recording the CD we’d just start jamming while the tape was being cued up.”

A Bottledog show would not be complete without random objects being projected overhead. Shows in the past have seen sponge bricks flying and a clan of stuffed Koala Bears tied about.

“We always try to have weird stuff,” Femur said. “Whatever we can grab to throw on stage to be silly.”

Bottledog also includes drummer Mark Schaffer, vocalist and guitarist Jason Pace, keyboardist and violinist Laura Watral and bassist and keyboardist Mike Glenn.

Bottledog gathers with Peat Moss tonight at the M-Shop in the Memorial Union. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 9. Tickets are $4 for students with a current fee card and $5 general admission. All college students are always welcome.