Sucettes120917
Sucettes at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

Welcome to Lazy-i, an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news.

The focus is on the indie music scene. Yes, there’s a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area, but Lazy-i also offers interviews, stories and reviews about national indie bands.

Most of the feature stories and columns in Lazy-i will have previously been published in The Reader, Omaha’s monthly alternative newspaper.



Lincoln Calling weekend; Sun-less Trio Saturday; Thighmaster Sunday…

Category: Blog — @ 7:17 am September 24, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The calendar is looking mighty light this weekend.

Lincoln Calling is in full swing (started yesterday, actually). To some degree, organizers have swayed away from indie in the line-up, though there are a few notables, including Las Cruxes, Jim Schroeder/Mesa Buoy, Plack Blague, Universe Contest, Dirt House, Marcey Yates & Xoboi and Conny Franko.

LC events were originally going to be held at venues, now due to COVID, the entire event is being held outside at Tower Square, Duffy’s Back Lot and Night Market. Single-day tickets for tonight and tomorrow night are $25; all access is $45. Go to LincolnCalling.com for the schedule.

Tomorrow night (Saturday), Mike Saklar’s band, The Sun-Less Trio, headlines at Brothers Lounge. Joining them are The Dharma Rose and Sazcha. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday night Kansas City psych-rock band Thighmaster (High Dive Records) headlines at The Sydney in Benson. Joining them are Ah (members of And How) and Captain Howdy (members of Garst). No price listed for this one but it’s probably $10. Starts at 9 p.m.

One last note, The Berkley, a new cocktail lounge/music venue at 1901 Leavenworth (just down from Shucks), celebrates its Grand Opening tonight at 8 p.m. I wrote about this place a few years ago, before the pandemic. It’s good to see that it’s finally opening. Kaylyn Sahs and Alexis DeBoer are preforming, and there’s no cover. More info here.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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One Percent and partners to break ground on La Vista project; new Maria Taylor…

Category: Blog — @ 12:53 pm September 23, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ever want to see One Percent Production’s Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz in a hardhat? 

On Tuesday, the folks creating the new indoor performance space and amphitheater in La Vista, The Astro, announced that groundbreaking will take place Sept. 29. Why did I think they already began construction on this project?

From the press release: “Looking to fill the gap of a medium-sized venue in Omaha’s metro’s music scene, City+Ventures along with live music and entertainment businesses One Percent Productions and Mammoth, Inc have joined forces on a new music venue:  The Astro Theater.  The official groundbreaking for the venue is set for Wednesday, September 29 at 11:00 AM with La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig, city council members, city staff, project partners, and developers all on hand.”

Will everyone be holding a shovel? You can bet on it. 

The Astro Theater is designed as the focal point of the mixed-use La Vista City Centre development. The 2,500-person, 52,000-square-foot indoor theater connects to an outdoor grass amphitheater, hosting 5,000 attendees and overlooking a 34-acre public park. The indoor venue and adjacent amphitheater are located in La Vista City Centre, 8302 City Centre Drive, La Vista, Nebraska. Construction is set to begin the week of groundbreaking with plans for The Astro Theater to debut in January 2023.

We’ve created a venue that provides the flexibility we know artists want in a new lifestyle development that brings the ultimate customer experience for their fans,” said 1%’s Jim Johnson.

The press release goes on to say One Percent Productions and Mammoth, Inc. will manage bookings for the facility.

Imagine the acts we’re going to be getting coming through Omaha now with this project, The Admiral (Sokol Auditorium) project and the new Omaha Performing Arts downtown-based Steelhouse live music venue…   

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Maria Taylor this morning dropped a new video for single “It’s Coming For You,” directed by Alan Tanner. The song is released on Taylor’s Flower Moon Records, which also released a new Azure Ray album, Remedy, this past June. Check it out. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Jeff Runnings talks new For Against reissue; Bad Bad Hats, And How tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 12:52 pm September 22, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

And How performing outside at The Slowdown, Oct. 3, 2020. The band opens for Bad Bad Hats tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Couple things worth mentioning today…

First is that Bad Bad Hats show at Reverb tonight. I think more people will be there for And How than the headliner, who is painfully at risk of being Omaha’d. My advice if you go is to stick around. 8 p.m., $15.

Secondly, Jeff Runnings of For Against recently did an interesting interview with Post-Punk.com. Conducted in support of FA’s vinyl reissue of 2002’s Coalesced by Cercle Social Records (limited to 600), Jeff talks about the making of the record, working with Mike Mogis, Saddle Creek Records (and the scene surrounding it in 2002), and talks about some of his most recent musical likes (and dislikes). He also mentions more upcoming For Against projects, including a possible expanded version of Eschelons that could include some early unreleased tracks.

Check it out.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with Bad Bad Hats (with And How at Reverb 9/22)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 7:17 am September 21, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Bad Bad Hats play at Reverb Lounge Wednesday, Sept. 22.

This is the first Ten Questions interview since before the pandemic! Green shoots? Maybe.

Minnesota band Bad Bad Hats are no strangers to Omaha, having opened for The Mynabirds at Slowdown back in 2015 (alongside the lost-but-not-forgotten High Up). They’re back in support of their new album, Walkman, which dropped last Friday on Don Giovanni Records.

The power-pop trio has a soft spot for jangly, cool ‘90s indie rock. In fact, my first run through the album I was reminded of Exile-era Liz Phair, though front woman Kerry Alexander’s lyrics of love gone wrong (and right) aren’t nearly as dark and acerbic as Liz’s bedroom diaries. Playing alongside bandmates bass player Chris Hoge and drummer Connor Davison, Bad Bad Hats headlines at Reverb Lounge Sept. 22.

We caught up with Kerry and gave her the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. What is your favorite album?

Kerry Alexander: Wow, tough question from the start! How to choose, how to choose. Obviously different albums have been my #1 at different points in my life. But one I always come back to is Fortress Round My Heart by Ida Maria. 

  1. What is your least favorite song?

I, in general, don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” in music, or that certain genres aren’t good, etc. I feel like if music is making you feel an emotion then it’s working as intended. That said, I don’t love “Boogie Shoes.” 

  1. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

There are many things to love, but I like that it’s allowed me to travel so much. I love experiencing new places, trying new food, seeing friends who live far away. I also love the synergy of playing music with other people. When you’ve practiced and you’re on your game and you anticipate each other’s moves. It’s a very special bond. 

  1. What do you hate about being in a band?

Rock venue bathrooms. 

  1. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

My lack of illegal substance use is well-documented (see our song “Nothing Gets Me High”). So I guess I’ll say, I like emotional substance. Deep conversations. Sincere feelings. Haha! That’s pretty corny, but I’m sticking with it.

  1. In what city or town do you love to perform?

This question is always so hard to answer because we love playing in so many different cities and venues. We love Chicago, we love Madison, we love Portland, we love Charlotte, we obviously always love the hometown gig. And I know this is an Omaha publication, so not to pander, but we do have so many great Omaha show memories. It’s always a good crowd, Reverb Lounge is an amazing venue, and it doesn’t hurt that we can get some Coneflower ice cream before we leave town…!

  1. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Well we try to block those shows from our memory, but we’ve probably played the worst shows in the Twin Cities. Because that’s where we got our start! And we needed some time to get good at our instruments and our flow and our stage presence. And we’re grateful that folks stuck with us while we figured it out. Being a musician is a constant learning experience for me. But that’s what I like about it!

  1. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We are professional musicians, yes. And that feels good to say! Because it took us about 6 to 7 years of being a band before we could say that. Chris, our bass player, accidentally became a full-time musician when his part-time job told him he couldn’t come back after a tour. Haha! So sometimes you just have to make it work. 

  1. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I would love to work in music supervision. That sounds fun! Maybe? I don’t actually know what that job entails. But I like the idea of it. Is there anything better than a perfectly soundtracked movie or TV moment? I would be in trouble in any job where I have to drive a giant vehicle. Keep me away from that.

  1. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I don’t know if anyone’s told me a story about Omaha. I went there the first time with no preconceived notions. I only know my own Omaha story. Which is: Show up to the venue. Load in and soundcheck. Go get some delicious ramen. Grab a beer at the beautiful Reverb Lounge bar. Play a great show. Talk to a bunch of friendly people at the merch table. Go to sleep. Wake up the next day and have Archetype coffee and Coneflower for breakfast. And what a wonderful story it is!

Bad Bad Hats play with And How on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $15, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: No Thanks, Red Kate at Brothers Lounge…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 20, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

No Thanks at Brothers Lounge Sept. 17, 2021.

I’m forever wondering if punk — or post-punk — or let’s face it, rock — will soon die of old age.

Most people my age already have thrown dirt over the grave, saying punk lived and died in the ‘70s, post-punk lived and died in the ‘80s, and alternative took over in the ‘90s, followed by indie, which most oldsters don’t consider rock music.

Of course none of it is true. Every time I start to get jaded listening to, say, Sirius XM and the endless list of “vibe” music on my Spotify new music list, something catches my ear and my hope is renewed. The same thing goes for live music. Friday night at Brothers Lounge I caught a set by a couple bands on the Black Site label out of KC, Red Kate and our very own No Thanks, and was, again, given hope for the future.

Red Kate at Brothers Lounge, Sept. 17, 2021.

Red Kate wasn’t doing anything new. The post-punk four piece played straight-ahead post-rock with yell vocals, solid rhythms and the prerequisite catchy riffs. Fast and hard, they were tight out of the gate. If you love this style of music, you would have loved this set.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen No Thanks live, and I’ve notice a common denominator to their sets — they always start off tenuous, as if frontman Brendan Leahy is unsure he really wants to go through with whatever he’s about to do, or simply isn’t in the proper headspace. Let me clarify — the rest of the band does sounds ready to go from the outset. Guitarist Mike Huber is one of the best things to come out of Omaha in years, and the rhythm section of Cam Stout and Gabe Cohen are first rate.

Musically, I was reminded of old school golden age Omaha post-punk band Ritual Device. To be clear, Leahy doesn’t in any way resemble a ‘90s-era circus-geek-loving Tim Moss. And while Moss had a guttural Nick Cage vocal swagger, Leahy has a high, kind of Jerry Lewis-style speaking voice. But when he gets warmed up, he can be equally sinister and disturbing as Moss.

But, just like those other times, it took Leahy three or four songs before he began to lose whatever inhibitions he may have had and started to let it all hang out. About four or five songs in, the shirt came off and he turned into a totally different dude — posing, crawling, preening, performing — he could give Future Islands’ Sam Herring a run for his money.

Halfway into the set I noticed the entire front of the stage was surrounded by young women dancing — or dare I say, moshing. I’m not sure exactly what it was they were doing except having a good time. It was the youngest crowd I’ve seen at a Brothers show — both young dudes and women — and it gave me hope that there is a new generation out there who still gets into this style of grinding, static, feedback-driven post-punk.

Another great night at Brothers Lounge. The club has been putting on a lot of shows lately and have more on the way. Catch them if you can.

A quick note about their vax card policy — the guy at the door was not playing around. You better have had both a vax card (or a photo of your vax card) and a second photo ID or you weren’t getting in. The process was quick and easy, and there’s no reason all the venues aren’t laying down similar policies.

If you don’t want to get vaxed, stay home and save us all a lot of grief.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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No Thanks, Red Kate, Mannequin Pussy, 38 Special tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:15 am September 17, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Mannequin Pussy headlines tonight at The Slowdown.

First weekend of shows since the pandemic where there are two great shows happening on the same night, forcing either decisions or a very long evening. And while that is yet another sign that we’re slowly getting back to “normal,” we’ve still got a long way to go.

Still…

Tonight at the undisputed home of Omaha punk rock — The Brothers Lounge — it’s the best post-punk act currently happening in the region: No Thanks. Check out this Alex Preston interview with the band in The Reader. They’re bringing along their Black Site Records label mates, KC’s Red Kate, who open at 10 p.m. No entry without proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 24 hours. This is the first no-vac/no-entry show I know of at Brothers, and if Brothers is doing it, everyone should be doing it. $7 at the door.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, Philly punk band Mannequin Pussy headlines in the big room. Their new 5-song EP, Perfect, was released this year on Epitaph. Baltimore punk band Pinkshift opens. This also is a no-vax/no-entry event. 8 p.m. $20.

Which will it be? Well, considering the timing, it may be possible to catch both shows. That’s a lot of rock. And it ain’t all tonight.

If you’re planning on tooling over to Benson tonight, be prepared for Military Ave. to be closed as you drive through flocks of silver-haired dudes on their way to see 38 Special on the outdoor stage. They call this Waiting Room Outdoors, but it should be called Reverb Outdoors. Myron Elkins opens at 7:30 p.m. This is a $45 show. Gates at 6, so hold on loosely and don’t let go.

Also tonight, Josh Hoyer and the Soul Colossal play at The B Bar, 4330 Leavenworth. $10, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, just down the street at the Down Under, 3530 Leavenworth, it’s Jeremy Mercy and the the Rapture Orphans. 9:30, no price listed.

While over at The Sydney tonight, Chicago band Waltzer performs. No opener listed, but there will also be a drag show. 9 p.m., $10.

All that stuff happening tonight and ain’t a thing going on the rest of the weekend, at least not on my radar. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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NYC notes; Spoon, Nicole Atkins tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm September 9, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looking south toward greater Manhattan from the north shore of the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, New York City.

Well I’m back from my annual trip to NYC. And, once again, I didn’t catch any music on this trip as there were only light calendars at the venues, likely due to Labor Day and Covid. There’s still plenty of shows planned for NYC, but there wasn’t when I was there.

So I’ll leave you with these three observations from a long weekend spent in Manhattan.

  1. In NYC, wearing a mask is ubiquitous. Whether in restaurants or bars or on the streets and subways, everyone wears a mask. NYC requires masks on mass transit and in most building, and wearing one is no big deal. Yes, there are a few “open-nosers” here and there. Few people wore masks in Central Park, however, and no one wore them while jogging (but why would you?). Didn’t see a single anti-mask crazy the whole weekend.

  2. NYC has implemented a proof-of-vaccination and/or proof-of-negative-Covid-test requirement to dine in restaurants and attend events, such as the U.S. Open, where I was. The requirement was no big deal — when we were asked, that is. The U.S. Open had queues where you merely flashed your card or your cell phone with a photo of your vax card — which was very lightly scrutinized. The closest look came at a weird ABBA event in Central Park, where you had to show your card and a second piece of ID. No restaurant asked for our vax cards, though we ate outside most of the time. Manhattan has transformed into a city of outdoor dining. Here’s hoping they keep those outdoor dining areas after Covid has passed.

  3. In the old days, you couldn’t go anywhere in Manhattan without smelling cigarette smoke. It was part of the city scent along with garbage and diesel fumes. These days you can’t go anywhere in Manhattan without smelling pot. It’s everywhere. A new ordinance that went into effect in March allows people to legally light up anywhere in NYC where smoking is allowed under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act. That would seem to actually be rather limiting, but you wouldn’t know it by sniffing. It was odd watching a guy smoke a joint while trying to figure out the CitiBike kiosk across the street from where we were eating lunch. PS: I’m all for pot, though I don’t imbibe myself; I just can’t stand the smell of it. Skunkweed!


BTW, I did return from NYC with a nasty head cold. As a preventative measure, I got a rapid Covid test yesterday that came back negative. You can’t be too careful these days. Fact is, you’re more likely to get Covid in Nebraska than in New York.

> > >

Tonight it’s Spoon at The Slowdown, and as of this writing the show has yet to sell out, which is kind of a surprise. Tickets are $40, and you must have a vax card or proof of negative Covid test to get inside by decree of the band. It will be interesting to hear how that goes, though I don’t foresee any problems unless an anti-vax knucklehead shows up and wants to cause problems. Nicole Atkins opens at 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Elvis Costello in the park …

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 6:44 am August 30, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Elvis Costello at Memorial Park, Aug. 28, 2021.

Oh, what a lovely evening Saturday night for the Elvis Costello concert at Memorial Park, apparently brought to us by Susie Buffett as the “anonymous donor” who bankrolled the whole shebang.

While I didn’t arrive until 8:45 (and after Elvis began), I heard more than enough of the concert from my back yard just four or five blocks from the park — a cover band playing “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night,” the boom-boom-boom of Wyclef Jean’s rhythm section, fading in and out with the southeast wind.

When I walked over the rise to the park’s bowl and the glowing stage along Dodge St., I was pleasantly surprised at how un-packed it was. Those who stayed away for fear of The Delta Variant needn’t worried. The breeze was so stiff and the people so spread out there was little chance of this becoming a super spreader event (sad how that the term has become part of our vocabulary).

As had been previously announced, The Attractions’ synth/keyboard player, Steve Nieve, was unable to get in-country for whatever reason and was replaced by Charlie Sexton on guitar. This personnel change would have an obvious effect on the evening’s performance, as much of Costello’s best songs are keyboard-dense (to say the least). So what we got instead was Elvis Costello and the Layabouts, a guitar-driven combo, and it wasn’t so bad.

Few artists depend more on their voice and their lyrics to carry their songs as EC. And for me, few things stand out as much on his recordings as Elvis’ crooning. And you had plenty of that Saturday night, for better or worse.

Look, it would be easy to complain about every little element of the concert without remembering that: 1) it was free, 2) it was held in an municipal park not designed for concerts, 3) most people were there to see the fireworks and had no idea who EC is and could care less that: 1) Elvis was off pitch on about half the songs, 2) the mix was less than stellar, 3) the set list contained a too many wonky country songs.

I’ve never seen Costello live, though I’ve seen a couple of his live performances on TV and didn’t expect much. All I wanted was the hits, which we got, plus some personal favorites — he did “Uncomplicated” off Blood and Chocolate, for example, which is one of my all-timers.

I also wanted some storytelling — having seen Elvis on the chat shows, I knew he could spin quite a yarn. And we got a few of those, though they sounded a bit tread-worn and forced. But what did you expect? Heartfelt confessions while children were running around swinging plastic light sabers and endless groups of pre-teen girls trotted up and down the grass alleyways giggling? Elvis did just enough to get by.

Halfway into the set I walked down to the bottom of the bowl to see how close I could get to the stage and was surprised at the access — unlike any past Memorial Park concert I can remember. I was close enough that I could have hit Sexton with a bottle had I wanted to. The folks surrounding me down there couldn’t have been more chill and into the concert.

The show ended with an extended version of “What’s So Funny…” an appropriate finale considering everything going on in Afghanistan. And then Mayor Stothert did the countdown and we all craned our heads back for 20 minutes and watched the fireworks.

I had a good time, anyway.

Elvis Costello performing at Memorial Park, Aug. 28, 2021.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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And How, Clarence Tilton tonight; Elvis Costello in the Park Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:11 pm August 27, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Elvis Costello plays Saturday in Memorial Park.

And so, the weekend. 

Two shows on the radar tonight…

Omaha indie ensemble And How headlines a very crowded bill tonight at The Sydney in Benson. The band always puts on a great show and is one of Omaha’s hottest bands on the verge of… something. Joining them is Lawrence (by way of Ashville, NC) four-piece folk-gaze band Blanky, whose latest, No Summertime, was recorded at Lakehouse in Ashbury Park and released last fall. Omaha hip-hop artist Dex Arbor opens at 9 p.m. No price listed for this show but it’s probably around $10. 

Also tonight, Omaha alt-country phenoms Clarence Tilton headlines at Slowdown Jr. with Farewell Transmission and Watson & Co. 8 p.m., $10.

Tomorrow it’s the big Memorial Park concert extravaganza featuring Elvis Costello and Wyclef Jean. Cover band The Firm kicks it off at 6 p.m. followed by Wyclef then Elvis, with fireworks at 10 p.m. In addition, KPAO public television will be showing local band videos between sets on the the big screens. The city recommends wearing masks, even outside.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Review: Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take (Saddle Creek Records)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:33 pm August 25, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take (2021, Saddle Creek)

I gave up a long time ago trying to understand the strategy behind Saddle Creek Records’ roster decisions. Mad genius? Shot in the dark? Take your pick. Let’s look at the breakdown:

Many are those of the art/noise set who applauded the release of Spirit of the Beehive’s Entertainment.Death — a recording I equate to watching a fine arthouse film that you can admire while seated in the dark but will likely never see again, unless you’re stoned (which I’ve never been). Young Jesus, another recent addition, falls along the same category. Both acts are hugely popular with critics, but I wonder how well they sell (or get played on streaming services, which these days is the mark of success).

Then there’s the cadre of forlorn singer/songwriter projects like Tomberlin, Black Belt Eagle Scout and Hand Habits. Meg Duffy of HH is a major talent and I love her work. But, man, you have to be in the right mood for it. 

Then there’s the more accessible indie-rock staples on the roster — Hop Along, Stef Chura, Disq. These are the most predictable and the most enjoyable. Hop Along and Francis Quinland get their share of Sirius XMU plays; and Disq was my choice for a Saddle Creek breakout band. While I love Disq’s latest album, it’s hardly broken through in a way that, say, Big Thief has (and who is now long gone from Saddle Creek).

This is a long pre-amble to say that Indigo De Souza doesn’t fall into any of these categories, and yet, her new album, Any Shape You Take, is my favorite Saddle Creek release in the past few years. Ten songs, 38 minutes, not a dud in the bunch. Built on a framework of traditional modern indie pop, De Souza in some ways is old school in that she knows how to write a great hook, how to drop in a tasty power chord, where to bring in the rest of the band in a way that makes you look up from whatever you’re doing and PAY ATTENTION. 

The one-sheet that came with the record describes the daughter of musicians and her constant struggle to find her voice as she goes through painful relationships, and so on. These are songs about misplaced devotion and insecurity taken to a familiar level. You may be finding your own way, Indigo, but we’ve all been there. We’ve heard it before, but rarely as honestly or brutally straight-forward. 

Favorite tracks include “Darker than Death” “Die/Cry” and “Pretty Pictures” — pop nuggets that come in at 3 minutes or less. In fact, no song exceeds five minutes, including the closing masterpiece, “Kill Me,” that should have been the first track (instead of the auto-tune-heavy “17,” my least favorite of the bunch). Despite the heavy themes, this is a pop album and it, indeed, rocks, setting it apart from the cadre of depressing women singer/songwriters dominating indie these days like Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. 

De Souza is backed by a great band with a great rhythm section, though the materials presented with the one-sheet don’t list the personnel and only says “While her backing band has undergone shifts between releases, her sound has stayed tethered to her vision.” So, who knows who will be backing her when she plays at Slowdown in October?

It does say Indigo produced the album herself, teaming up with executive producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs) and engineers/producers Alex Farrar and Adam McDaniel. The production is quite stellar. Rating: Yes.

Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take, comes out Aug. 27 on Saddle Creek Records. Pre-order the album here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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