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.



Live Review: Maha Music Festival year 10: Is bigger better?; Cults, Metric tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 12:45 pm August 20, 2018

ZZ Ward performs during day 1 of the the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few things before we get started.

First, the line-up. It was controversial the day it was announced if only because this was the 10-year anniversary of the Maha Music Festival. There’s only a few of us who have been to all 10, who know the dips and turns that this festival has gone through over the past decade. And every one of us has a favorite year. Mine just happens to have been last year when Maha coaxed Belle & Sebastian to their festival stage along with Downtown Boys, New Pornographers and the Faint. Run the Jewels was the usual meh headliner, but at least made a statement that Maha wasn’t going to be be mistaken for a dad rock festival.

The speculation for year 10 ranged from LCD Soundsystem to Courtney Barnett to Arcade Fire to Wilco. Three of those four names had released a relevant new album in the past year. When Weezer was announced as the headliner, an enormous group yawn came over Omaha’s tiny audience of indie music followers. Weezer was never an indie band, doesn’t play indie rock, could even be mistaken as an MTV band thanks to it’s classic “Happy Days” video for “Buddy Holly.”

What indie fans failed to realize is that if Maha is going to pay a quarter-million dollars (or whatever they paid for Weezer) the band better be able to sell a shit-ton of tickets — or at least draw a massive crowd. And Weezer did just that. I don’t know the numbers, but Stinson Park was overflowing last night when Rivers kicked off their set with the “You Wanted to See It” bite from Happy Days.

On the other hand, the crowd was less than massive the prior evening for TV on the Radio, but I’ll get to that.

The second thing to mention before digging into the performances is how well this festival operates — and has operated from day 1. No event has better trained, better prepared volunteers than Maha — all 700 of them. I was greeted with a smile every where I turned, from check-in to buying drink tickets to the eager young lady who explained which container to dump my trash/recyclables. That doesn’t just happen, believe me. Working with an army of volunteers is a difficult, thankless job that’s ignored when it’s done right.

Finally, one of the smartest/best things to happen to Maha was selecting Stinson Park at Aksarben Village as its location. No matter what happens in the future, no matter how big or small the festival becomes, Stinson should remain ground zero for this annual event. Nothing could be more convenient.

Time for a Format Change

All that said, there was one thing that became glaringly obvious after this year’s two-day festival — there’s no reason to start bands before 6 p.m.

Yes, there was only a few hundred on hand to hear Clarence Tilton kick things off at 6 p.m. Friday night, but the crowd just seemed to grow faster by the moment. Whereas Saturday festivities were lightly attended all the way up until Hop Along took the stage. As a result, few saw some of the festival’s best performances — specifically David Nance and U.S. Girls.

Organizers, ask yourselves: If you know no one’s going to be at the park at noon to see these artists, why bother booking them so early? I would have loved to see a 6 p.m. crowd eat up Nance’s set, or for that matter, if an early-evening audience would have tried to dance to U.S. Girls.

I’m sure there’s a good reason for starting at noon. I don’t know what it is.

The perfect Maha Festival would run three days — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — each day starting at 6 p.m. Six bands each on Thursday and Friday, five bands on Saturday. That’s 17 high-quality bands, each getting a decent shot at playing in front of a sizable crowd instead of the usual handful there at noon for reasons we’ll never know. This is the only option if Maha is never going to take the plunge and book one of its headliners very early in the day in an attempt to get the crowd out early.

The later start times also allow festival-goers to avoid most of August’s oppressively hot/humid weather. Why haven’t they done it this way in the past? Does it have to do with better-utilizing vendors and facilities? I would be surprised if they’re covering labor costs before 5 p.m. As for the bands that “get their break” playing the early stage, that’s been a running joke since the festival started — “We played Maha… in front of 18 people at noon.”

Yeah, you might have a smaller crowd at 6 p.m. than at 9 p.m., but it’s going to be bigger than what was there Saturday for The Dilla Kids.

Day 1

Caveat: I wasn’t even planning on attending Friday night’s festival, but when Maha offered me a press pass, I had to go if only to see Clarence Tilton on that ginormous stage. The Omaha-based alt-country five-piece belted out its usual great set of rural-tinged rock that would make Uncle Tupelo proud.

Clarence Tilton performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I’ve seen these guys play the best stages in town all the way down to a neighborhood street party and they never disappoint. The big stage only magnified their talent, though as mentioned, only a hundred or so were there to hear it. No matter. They kicked it up as if the Stinson bowl was filled.

State Disco performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

State Disco followed from the smaller “Omne Partners Stage,” but I’ll be damned if that stage didn’t sound louder than the main “Decades Stage.” Unlike what the name implies, State Disco don’t play no disco. Their style sounds derived from 2000s-era Vegas alternative band The Killers with some Muse and Strokes thrown in for good measure.

I walked up to the stage to get the photos and turned around to see about a dozen girls standing in a line, grooving. Cute. In the words of a seasoned musician who I bumped into: these dudes are professional, and you can tell they’re dying to get heard on the radio.

Hurrah for the Riff Raff performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

Half of the multitude of people I spoke to Friday night were there to see Hurray for the Riff Raff, hence (I assume) the reason they were on the big stage. Front woman Alynda Segarra is hard to take your eyes off of. She certainly commands the stage, though the band’s brand of rootsy rock failed to capture my attention, and after a few songs I was off to check out the Rabble Mill mini-ramp on the other end of the park.

Benjamin Booker performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I got back in time to watch New Orleans blues-rocker Benjamin Booker on the side stage. He and his band played a blue-stomp rock in the Black Keys vein but with more variety (which isn’t saying much). Booker’s stuff comes out on ATO, the same label as Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers and Hurray for the Riff Raff (I assume it was a package deal). Seems like blues-rock replaced alt-country as an indie outlier genre. We can thank Black Keys for that.

As middle-of-the-road as those two ATO acts were, they were light-years ahead of blues rock act ZZ Ward. For the half-dozen of you who asked how Dusty and Billy sounded, the “ZZ” stands for Zsuzsanna, as in Zsuzsanna Eva Ward. I would have preferred Dusty and Billy.

The music kinda sorta reminded me of Shania Twain hick-country; I halfway expected Ward to rip into “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” It was at this point that I was thinking these last three bands would have been a great fit for the ol’ Playing with Fire concert series. Maybe that’s the crowd Maha was after.

Needless to say, Ward was an odd choice to precede early-2000s indie rock icons TV on the Radio, the band the other half of the crowd was there to see. By now Stinson was crowded, though the bowl was only half filled; the power lines leading to the side stage that cuts the park in half acted as a pseudo barrier. It was crush full on the other side of that line and pretty far back. The Maha folks had to be pleased.

TV on the Radio performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

What can I say about TV on the Radio’s set? I’ve never been a fan, and don’t know much beyond 2008’s Dear Science, which stands as a landmark album from that era. I recognized “Golden Age” from that album, but few others. They sounded strong and tight, as if they released that album last year. I didn’t hang around for the full set, though I’m told they played “Staring at the Sun” for an encore.

Day 2

The Dilla Kids had the inauspicious honor of opening Day 2 at 12:30 to what appeared to be about 50 people. The ensemble totaled 11 on the big stage including a graffiti artist who would hang out through a good part of the afternoon.

The Dilla Kids kicked off Day 2 of the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I’ve never seen these folks before and was very impressed with the band — every aspect but especially the rhythm section. Top-notch beats that would not stop. Fronting them were MCs Marcey Yates and Xoboi, who were all about getting the party started at lunch time, rapping about “Wings and Thighs.”

Did I mention it was humid as hell? Just as miserable as you’d expect in mid-August.

David Nance Band performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

David Nance Band got the day going on the side stage. Playing as a four-piece with guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Noah Sterba and drummer Kevin Donahue, they ripped into a guitar-fueled set of songs, many I assume from the band’s upcoming Trouble in Mind debut due Oct. 5.

Among my faves was a song presumably called “Kingdom of Shit” and the roarin’ first single, “Poison.” Nance and Schroeder played off each other throughout, challenging themselves to a feedback contest. The new stuff has a Neil Young / Crazy Horse vibe, with jams you’d love to have gone on for 20 minutes or more. He ended the set with a dirge, which is a no-no for any festival (He would have killed them if he’d closed with “Negative Boogie”).

U.S. Girls perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came U.S. Girls. I was expecting something more electronic and dance-beat fueled like on their new album, In a Poem Unlimited. Instead, the band ripped into heavy guitar rock that morphed into dance-beat fabulousness spurred on by front woman Meghan Remy’s inviting coo.

The sound was slow, heavy and erotic, Remy out front and inviting, imploring the crowd of around 300 to dance instead of just standing there staring like lumps. The lead guitarist, dressed head-to-toe in red, looked like an extra from an episode of Starsky and Hutch but was friggin’ amazing. This was not your typical Maha moment, it was something completely different, and I don’t think the audience knew what to make of it. A highlight.

Next up was Mesonjixx at 3 p.m. In all years past, there have been some holes in my coverage of the Maha Music Festival, and this year would be no exception. One looks at the schedule and picks the spots when they’re going to go home to recover from the heat, or, in my case, go home and let the dogs out. This was my chance.

As a result, I missed Mesonjixx, who I’d seen just a few weeks ago at Slowdown, as well as Hop Along (who I intended to catch at O’Leaver’s Sunday night, but failed) and Ravyn Lenae.

Tune-Yards perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I returned at 6:30 for Tune-Yards and am happy I did. This was my favorite set of the festival. Tune-Yards play as a trio fronted by super-talented Merrill Garbus standing on a platform with a battery of pedals at her command used to trigger a myriad of loops and samples. With bass player Nate Brenner on one side and a drummer on the other, she crushed a large-ish crowd with thick beat, high-rhythm art-rock songs as experimental and interesting as Eno-era anybody.

The band is enjoying some notoriety thanks to scoring the break-out film Sorry to Bother You, but Tune-Yards already were well-known with the indie set, having plenty of airplay on national streaming indie stations and Sirius XMU. Her song “Gangsta” somehow gets sneaked into every cable program, and single “Water Fountain” has been used in a number of commercials.

The rhythms were pounding, and god help me, some people were actually dancing.

The Kills perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

It was a hard act to follow but The Kills did the best they could from the side stage. A band this big, I was surprised to see them relegated to the small side, but it didn’t tamp down their energy.

As you’d expect from a festival, the fans got a greatest hits set that included “List of Demands (Reparations),” which is the only Kills song I can pick in a line-up.

(Festival sets are kind of like listening to a band’s Greatest Hits album. Everything is out of context and placed in an unfamiliar order and as a result, looses a bit of whatever it was that made the music stick in the first place.)

Father John Misty performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

By the time Father John Misty started at 9 the audience had arrived. The whole park was filled and the bowl was a crush mob. The Omaha World-Herald reported the attendance was “almost 8,000” (by comparison, the 2015 Maha with Modest Mouse was officially sold out, whatever that means, so which had a bigger audience?). Let me put it this way: It was a shit-ton of people.

I expected a sleepy set from FJM a.k.a. Josh Tillman and got anything but. He came out dressed to the nines and ripped though a greatest hits set of his own backed by an incredible band. I never realized how many good songs FJM has, from “Nancy From Now On” to “Real Love Baby” to the current hit, “Mr. Tillman.”

His stage shtick is looking debonair and reserving his smooth dance moves for just the right moments. He has one of those voices that is unmistakable and bound to be a touchstone to this era, at times reminding me of Elton John.

I expected some snappy patter but he only got in one zinger from stage, paraphrasing, “I want to dedicate this song to all the sad-looking Weezer fans up front. Hang in there, guys. It’s almost over.”

From there he kicked into a wicked version of “Pure Comedy,” a song whose message I’m sure went well over their heads. He closed with “I Love You, Honeybear” — the set seemed to fly by.

Weezer performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came Weezer. I only stuck around for the first four or five songs. Weezer sounded great. Just like Weezer. And the crowd loved it.

Which brings us back to the line-up. Look, I don’t know where Maha hopes to go from here. It’s hard to imagine them bringing in a more commercial band than Weezer and still maintain some sort of indie-rock connection. You could say they stepped away from that years ago, or were never really concerned about it (Let’s face it, Garbage is hardly a cutting-edge indie band).

Maha will never have my dream line-up because my dream line-up would probably sell a total of 300 tickets. That’s not what it’s about. Maha is about bringing community together around music. You can’t do that without having a radio-friendly legacy act at the top of the bill. And if you can slip in a U.S. Girls or Tune-Yards or David Nance along the way, well then, you’ve succeeded. And they have. Here’s to the next 10 years…

* * *

NYC band Cults headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. In addition to Columbia, the band’s music is released on Lilly Allen’s In the Name Of label. Dreamy synth rock in the vein of early M83. The Shacks (Big Crown Records) opens at 8 p.m. %15.

Also tonight Metric opens for Smashing Pumpkins at CenturyLink Center. 7 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

It’s Maha Festival weekend: Clarence Tilton, TV on the Radio tonight; David Nance, U.S. Girls, Hop Along, Tune-Yards, Father John Misty Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm August 17, 2018

U.S. Girls is among the highlights of tomorrow’s Maha Music Festival, which kicks off tonight at Stinson Park.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ah, Maha. The festival gods must be looking down kindly on this one as the weather is looking perfect and from all indications, this is gonna be big event.

Everyone is asking about ticket sales. The fact that Maha hasn’t sold out of VIP tickets yet (and everywhere you look someone is giving away passes) may be an indication of sales sluggishness, but the fact is Maha and other festivals do a lot of walk-up sales, and with this weather, I have no doubt that’ll be the case.

Tonight’s first-ever Friday showcase has a ringer with TV on the Radio headlining at 10:30. I have to admit TOTR is a band that went right by me when they first hit the scene in the early 2000s. That said, there’s a ton of buzz about this set.

Tonight will mostly be a night of discovery for me. I’ve had zero (known) exposure to ZZ Ward, Benjamin Booker and Hurray for the Riff Raff. And to be honest, the band we’re most excited to see is opener Clarence Tilton at 6 p.m.

GA tickets for tonight are $45; VIP tix are $110.

Them comes the really big show tomorrow.

Like Omaha World-Herald’s Kevin Coffey, I also have five acts that I’ve deemed “must-see”:

David Nance Band at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 15, 2016.

David Nance Band — With a new album coming out in October on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records and on the verger of a massive Eastern U.S. Tour, Nance is one of those acts that any festival would love to have — and he’s grouped in with Maha’s “local acts.” Nance and Co. are headed to this year’s Gonerfest in Memphis next month. Their music is a rough-shod style of psych-rock direct from the garage rife with amazing guitar work and Nance’s Jon Spencer-like bark. If you haven’t seen him, here’s your chance. He comes on after The Dilla Kids at 1:15.

U.S. Girls — The Philly band fronted by Meghan Remy has had records released by Siltbreeze, FatCat and their cuurent label, 4AD. Their latest, In a Poem Unlimited, is loaded with pop songs, like the infectious “Rosebud” that Madonna would kill for. They can be dancey, they can be spacey, but it’s Remy in the middle with her sweet coo. This one starts at 2 p.m.

Hop Along at Slowdown Jr., June 4, 2015.

Hop Along — The new-era Saddle Creek Records act is no stranger to Omaha. Frances Quinlan has a guttural, scratchy, feral-cat growl of a voice on tuneful indie songs that have become Sirius XMU staples. The band’s latest album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog (2018, Saddle Creek) is a personal favorite, having just acquired a new puppy of my own that enjoys barking way too much (in fact, she’s barking as I type this, dammit).

Hop Along goes on at 4:15. BTW, rumor has it that Hop Along is the “secret show” at O’Leaver’s Sunday night. No one has confirmed or denied that rumor…

Tune-Yards — They’ve gained new notoriety for having been included in the soundtrack to 2018 break-out dark-comedy Sorry to Bother You. I know them from their 2011 4AD Records debut release Whokill, and its tasty single “Gangsta.” They used to be the duo of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner. I’m assuming they’ve grown since I saw them play at SXSW in 2009. Interesting, weird, arty act. On stage at 6:30.

Father John Misty — This could be a real wild-card. Misty, who’s no mystery to Omaha fans having played here before, can either put on a blow-your-head-off set filled with laff-riot between-song patter or he could be BAF, depending on his mood. Let’s hope he’s the former. I know a lot of people who bought tickets to Maha for this performance alone. 9 p.m. start time.

Then there’s Weezer, who didn’t make my list because, well, I’m not a huge Weezer fan. They lost me after Pinkerton, which came out something like 22 years ago. That said, the crowd will crest for their set.

If ticket sales are slim this year it’ll be because your typical Weezer fan not only doesn’t know the who the openers are, but doesn’t care. They’re looking at this as a $70 Weezer concert, which may be a tad steep. Actually, if they walk-up tomorrow, they’ll be paying $80. That’s lot of cash to see a band play a Toto cover.

Maha Festival headliners have never been the draw for me. My all-time favorite Maha moment came from an afternoon set by Belle & Sebastian. I typically catch the first couple songs by the headliner than head out. We’ll see what happens this year.

Here’s the full line-up w/times:

The Friday night gig:

6 p.m. – Clarence Tilton
6:30 – State Disco
7:20 – Hurray for the Riff Raff
8:15 – Benjamin Booker
9:10 – ZZ Ward
10:30 – TV on the Radio

The Saturday schedule:

12:30 p.m. – The Dilla Kids
1:15 – David Nance Band
2 – U.S. Girls
3 – Mesonjixx + Omaha Girls Rock
4:15 – Hop Along
5:30 – Ravyn Lenae
6:30 – Tune-Yards
7:45 – The Kills
9 – Father John Misty
10:30 – Weezer

More info at MahaMusicFestival.com. See you there.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

‘Twas the night before for Maha; Thick Paint, Trap PS, RAF, Satchel Grande (RAICES benefit) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 5:36 pm August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin circa 1970.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m listening to Aretha’s Spirit in the Dark (1970, Atlantic) as I type this. She’s one of those artists you just assumed would always be around…

Anyway, this late afternoon update is to hype that this is the last day to buy tickets to the Maha Music Festival before the day-of-show price hikes. Get on it. I’ll write more about Maha tomorrow.

There’s a few hot shows tonight leading into the weekend.

Tonight at The Brothers Lounge Thick Paint headlines a show that features LA’s Traps PS. Their new album, Chants, comes out tomorrow. If that weren’t enough, The Jim Schroeder Sextet opens at 10 p.m. $5.

Also this evening, seminal Omaha hardcore punk band R.A.F. plays in the beer garden at fabulous O’Leaver’s starting at 6 p.m. What will the neighbors say? $5.

And finally The Waiting Room tonight is hosting a benefit wherein all money raised will go to support families being separated at the border by providing funds for legal support by way of RAICES. Satchel Grande headlines. 7 p.m. $15.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Music (announcement) Tuesday: David Nance, Digital Leather, SAVAK, Young Jesus…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:52 pm August 14, 2018

David Nance Band has a new record coming out on Trouble in Mind Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m figuring out a way to group new music announcements into a single weekly blog post. This may or may not work. Stand by…

David Nance, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, slated for release on Trouble in Mind Oct. 5.

Last week David Nance announced that his latest full-length, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, is coming out on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records Oct. 5. It’s credited to the “David Nance Group” and features Nance alongside his recent “hot-shit live band” of fellow Omaha musicians; guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Tom May, and drummer Kevin Donahue.

The 7-song LP was mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control and Eddy Current Suppression Ring (no word as to who produced and recorded it). Nance dropped the first single via SoundCloud, “Poison,” and it’s pretty awesome.

Nance is my pick for the next Omaha act to grab some national traction (You could argue he already has). He launches a tour of the Eastern U.S. Sept. 8 in St. Louis that includes a performance at the legendary Gonerfest in Memphis Sept. 29. and Detroit’s Third Man Nov. 8.

The tour rolls home to Omaha Oct. 12, but you can catch Nance sooner — he’s playing the Maha Music Festival this Saturday.

* * *

Digital Leather, Feet, is slated for release sometime this fall on Stencil Trash Records.

Digital Leather posted in Facebook Aug. 2 that the project (headed by Shawn Foree) has a new limited vinyl-only release coming out on German label Stencil Trash Records. No drop date, but we know it’s called Feet, and there’s a track listing.

The possible track listing for the forthcoming Digital Leather album, Feet.

The 12-song LP apparently has been sent to the plant “to be released in about three months” according to the Stencil Trash Facebook page. The label creates elaborate packaging for its releases. Accordingly, “The cover will be printed inside-out on 350g/m² paper. The circle as a glossy sticker and the little hinge as a ‘real’ hinge will be glued on the cover. Limited to 333 copies on 180g black vinyl and dedicated to Peter Eichhorn/P.Trash Records.”

Stencil Trash doesn’t take pre-orders, so…

* * *

SAVAK, Beg Your Pardon, is slated for release on Ernest Jennings Nov. 9.

World-famous Omaha ex-pat now Brooklynite Mike Jaworski’s latest project, SAVAK, announced that their third album, Beg Your Pardon, will drop Nov. 9 on Ernest Jennings Recordings.

The band recorded and produced Beg Your Pardon themselves in their Gowanus practice space and then handed off the songs to Mikey Young (Royal Headache, Kelley Stoltz), Geoff Sanoff (Nada Surf, Luna), Ed Ackerman (The Jayhawks, John Wesley Harding) and Matthew Barnhart (Superchunk, METZ) to mix.

Check out the first single, “Dead Dick,” below.  The band will tour the U.S. and Europe in the fall.

* * *

Young Jesus, The Whole Thing is Just There comes out on Saddle Creek Oct. 12.

Finally, one of Saddle Creek Records new-era artists, Young Jesus, today dropped the first single, “Deterritory,” from their forthcoming album, The Whole This Is Just There. The record drops Oct. 12 and pre-orders are now being taken for limited edition yellow vinyl.

The band announced a massive U.S. tour that runs throughout the fall, but alas, is a NOmaha joint.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Closeness, Net; Those Far Out Arrows at Petfest…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm August 13, 2018

Closeness at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 10, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve seen Closeness a few times at O’Leaver’s and have always been moved/impressed with their music, but last Friday night’s show at Slowdown Jr. was next-level in its drive and intensity and overall sound; best set I’ve seen/heard from this duo.

Todd and Orenda Fink set up in their usual face-to-face format aglow in floor floods and LEDs, looking like a couple Amish goth hipsters in their Recapitate headgear (I need to get one of those, sans big-round brim). There’s always a deep density to their sound but Friday’s set felt, well, denser, and had a better flow, enhanced by two new songs (or at least a couple numbers that aren’t on their EP) that were dramatic and dancible, breaking up the monotony of their usual mid-tempo onslaught.

I may be imagining this, but it seems as if Todd is taking more of a lead on the vocals these days, and if there’s a quibble it’s in the overuse of vocoder/digital effects (It was funny hearing him ask for less drums in the monitors in robot voice). Todd has a damn fine voice when it’s unincumbered by techology. But maybe Orenda is supposed to be the “human” to his “robot” on these futuristic duets?

With two new songs, you have to wonder if there’s a new release on the horizon for Closesness. But at the pace in which Todd writes, it could be awhile until we get something in hand, especially if The Faint are also back at it again (They’re slated to play at Cloak & Dagger Fest in LA Nov. 10).

Net at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 10, 2018.

Opening act Oklahoma City’s NET played a strong set of post-rock songs that reminded me of early Devo without their quirk. Fast, spazzy, stacatto rock augmented with synths, they fancy themselves an electronic act, but the guitars dominated from where I was standing. Too often the synths sounded like they were filling in gaps, adding to the clutter rather than enhancing the sound. Because of that, they felt stuck between being an electronic act and a prog-punk band.

Good crowd, though disappointing in size (around 60?).

Those Far Out Arrows at Petfest, Aug. 11, 2018.

Saturday’s Petfest crowd was small but mighty as well, at least when I was there around 7 p.m. to see Those Far Out Arrows play a bad-ass set behind the Petshop in the parking lot.

Bed Rest at Petfest, Aug. 11, 2018.

This is a fun to see a small fest, with a vibe that’s a cross between a SXSW day show and 1968 minus the LSD — laid-back people hanging out with beers behind an orange cyclone fence while some guy sprayed graffiti across the way. Bands played alternating sets inside the Petshop garage, including a roaring Bed Rest, who impressed me with their post-punk bordering on emo rock.

TFOA’s set consisted almost entirely of new songs from their soon-to-be-released High Dive Records debut that is bound to make your best-of-2018 list. I can’t wait to see what happens after these guys hit the road…

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Closeness, Digital Leather, Net tonight; Petfest (Those Far Out Arrows, Sam Martin, Hussies) Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:33 pm August 10, 2018

Closeness at O’Leaver’s, May 18, 2018. The duo plays tonight at Slowdown, Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another red hot weekend (at least weather-wise), and the last one before the Maha Music festival. Here’s what’s on my radar:

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. Closeness — the post-rock project by Todd and Orenda Fink — headlines. Joining them is Digital Leather (with a new album on the horizon?) and Oklahoma City electronic act Net.

It’s four people playing music that was written on a computer and making it more human,” Net’s Tommy McKenzie told The Oklahoman. “(We) become syncopated like a machine. Everyone adds to an idea and expands it.”

Kraftwerk is thrown around as an influencer; I’m reminded of early Devo. $7, 9 p.m. See you there.

Also tonight, Bokr Tov plays at the Benson B-Side (next door to the Benson Theatre). Dylan Goodman opens at 10 p.m. $5.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s Petfest at the Pet Shop Gallery. The music runs from 2 p.m. to midnight. Performances by:

-Universe Contest
-Mike Schlesinger
-Those Far Out Arrows
-Hussies
-Sam Martin
-Black Johnny Quest w/Kethro
-Effluvium
-Ben Eisenberger
-Sean Pratt and the Sweats
-Bed Rest
-Artichoke Hearts
-Fifi NoNo (final performance?)
-3gypt
-Harvey Pekar (Cleveland, OH)
-The Meaninglessnesses (Magnetic Fields tribute band)

Late night Performances by:
-Kethro
-Cult Play

There’s no price listed but I doubt it’s free.

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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#TBT Aug. 13, 2008: Oberst debut solo, Faint’s Fasciinatiion storm Billboard charts; Witch Mountain, Ocean Black tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:57 pm August 9, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday (#TBT), from the blog 10 years ago:

Conor Oberst charts at No. 15, The Faint at No. 45… – Aug. 13, 2008 –

So how did Conor Oberst and The Faint do in their first week’s sales of their new albums? Here’s the skinny by way of Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt:

Conor Oberst’s self-titled album sold 28,546 copies last week, plus 354 copies prior to street date for a total of 28,918 copies. That’s good enough for the album to chart at No. 15 on Billboard. Conor Oberst also was the No. 3 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 9,941 digital units.

The Faint’s Fasciinatiion sold 11,333 last week, plus 222 copies before street date for a total of 11,584 copies — good enough to claim the No. 45 position on the Billboard charts. Fasciinatiion also was the No. 15 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 3,250 digital units.

FYI, digital downloads are included in the overall total sales number. Thanks again to Mr. Fratt for the data. Overall, an impressive first week by both artists. I think you could see both albums continue to climb the charts, but especially Fasciinatiion, which has had less pre-release media attention, and is only now getting the notice it deserves.

And the original reviews from the Lazy-i posted a week later:

Conor Oberst, self-titled (2008, Merge)

Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst (2008, Merge) — It differs from Bright Eyes in its more minimal production, though it’s far from stripped down (just Mogis-less). Song wise, it’s not a stretch at all, though Oberst does seem more relaxed, even resolved to his stricken condition of being ordained the rambling “voice of his generation.” Call him that if you want to; he’s not listening. Unlike Lifted or Wide Awake, there’s no need to block off your afternoon or give it your undivided attention to enjoy it. Like he says on album opener “Cape Canaveral”: “There’s no worries, who’s got time?” No one, Conor, no one. And while there’s nothing as striking as, say, “Lua” or “Waste of Paint” or “I Must Belong Somewhere,” it has its moments of absolute clarity, including country stomper “I Don’t Want to Die (in the Hospital)” and rock anthem “Souled Out!!!” Oberst is too smart to do either. Rating: 4 stars.

The Faint, Fasciinatiion (2008, blank.wav)

The Faint, Faciinatiion (2008, blank .wav) — It’s no wonder that the album’s best song, “The Geeks Were Right,” also is the most straightforward and least dependent on technology to “make it sound different.” You see, I like frontman Todd Fink’s voice just the way it is. And with all of the electronic bleep-blooping going on elsewhere, Dapose’s opening guitar riff feels downright organic. But a straight-up rock band is not what the throngs of stylish, sweaty youth are looking for. Give them the robot-voiced dance machine with its dense bass and thump-thump-thump rhythms. They want to bounce, not think. What are they singing about? Who cares as long as there’s a thick-ass beat and plenty of strobes. Which makes me wonder what would happen if these guys stepped away from the synths, vocoders and effects pedals and picked up traditional instruments once again. They could be that great rock band we’ve all been waiting for, if they wanted to be. But they never will, not now, not when they don’t have to. With a slew of classics already in their quiver, it makes you wonder why they even bother making new CDs in the first place. Rating: 3 stars.

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Tonight at Lookout Lounge Portland doom-metal band Witch Mountain headlines. When it comes to the grind, they’ll have stiff competition from opener Ocean Black, Omaha’s stoner-rock satans. Super Moon is also on the bill. $12, 7 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Cursive expands, new LP Vitriola Oct. 5 on 15 Passenger; Campdogzz In Rounds reviewed; Melvins tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:58 pm August 8, 2018

Cursive’s next album, Vitriola, comes out Oct. 5 on 15 Passenger.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The last line of the press release announcing Cursive’s first new album in six years reads:

Cursive is: Tim Kasher (vocals/guitar), Ted Stevens (guitar/vocals), Matt Maginn (bass), Clint Schnase (drums), and Patrick Newbery (keys), with Megan Siebe on cello.

The two surprises here are Schnase and Siebe. Schnase, as all old-time Cursive fans know, is the band’s original drummer and an absolute beast on a kit. It’s good to have him back. But apparently he’ll only be heard on the record, as Ladyfinger drummer (and exceptional print maker) Pat Oakes will be the band’s touring drummer when they hit the road for a month starting Oct. 18. That tour ends with a show at The Waiting Room Nov. 18 with label mates Campdogzz.

(I wonder if Cursive could be the “secret” of the just-announced “secret show” at O’Leaver’s Aug. 19?)

Megan Siebe is a fixture of the Omaha music scene having performed with a number of acts including Simon Joyner’s Ghosts, Anniversaire and live with Cursive (Seems to me someone suggested back in 2013 that Siebe would be a great addition on their next album…)

Enough about personnel. The new album, Vitriola, was recorded at ARC with studio wizard Mike Mogis and drops Oct. 5. According to the press release:

(The album) finds the band struggling with existentialism veering towards nihilism and despair; the ways in which society, much like a writer, creates and destroys; and an oncoming dystopia that feels eerily near at hand.

Holy shit that sounds depressing. But no Cursive (or Good Life) album is ever a joyous walk through the daisies.

Check out the first single, “Life Savings,” below and pre-order at the 15 Passenger website.

While we’re talking about 15 Passenger, some thoughts on the new Campdogzz record, In Rounds. The 15P debut dropped last Friday..

The has a creamy, twangy sound mixed with throaty-beat indie rock; it can be quiet, it can be hard, and falls in the same mood-circle as Angel Olson or Big Thief or Mitski. Let’s face it, women-fronted acts are making the most interesting music in indie rock these days, they’re dominating the genre.

Campdogzz and frontwoman Jess Price can add their names to that rather long list. Price, a Tulsa native, has a weary, prairie-worn voice that sounds like a mix between Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt and a bourbon hangover. There is a desolate nature to this collection of songs that reflect a strange longing and loneliness, with arrangements that in a heartbeat can veer from bending-in-the-wind lullaby to storm-bracing rock — quiet, ferocious, quiet.

Highlights include the torrid, pumping “On My Own,” crunchy rocker “Southern,” which sounds like classic Stevie Nicks, and smoldering hammer-beat track “Souvenir” with the lines “Did you want to get me gone / Did you want to get me / Well that train is going by.” Yikes.

Price’s lyrics are simpler and somewhat more obtuse than, say, Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics (of Big Thief), which are more intimate, personal, straight forward — you always know what Lenker’s singing about, whereas Price, not so much. On the other hand Campdogzz’s music is consistently more compelling and hook-filled than Big Thief’s static confessions (Exceptions, such as “Paul” and “Shark Smile,” are the exception rather than the rule). Regardless, the bands have more similarities than differences.

The Chicago act, which started as a duo with Price and Mike Russell and is now a five-piece, has been kicking around since before 2014. The fact that 15 Passenger lucked into them says a lot about the future of a label that’s built on a bedrock of Kasher-infused quality. How could it go wrong? * * *

They’re practically The Waiting Room’s house band — The Melvins — return to the bar tonight. WE Are the Asteroid opens at 8 p.m. $20.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker gets Saddle Creek solo; new Tomberlin video…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 7, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Saddle Creek Records announced this morning that it’s releasing the solo debut by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, titled abysskiss.

Songs can be slippery and following a 2+ years on the road with Big Thief, Lenker felt a growing need to document this particular time in her life in an intimate, immediate way. The result is her new album, abysskiss, out October 5,” sayeth the press release.

The album was co-produced with Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic) and recorded by Gabe Wax (Soccer Mommy, Ought, Palehound). This looks like another big score for Saddle Creek. Pre-order it here.

Speaking of Saddle Creek releases, the next one out of the gate is the Tomberlin’s LP At Weddings, which comes out Friday. Sarah Beth released a new video, “Any Other Way” this morning.

No shows tonight!

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Beer Nebraska (Conny Franko, Icky Blossoms); Portugal, The Man, Sam Vicari tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:48 pm August 6, 2018

Conny Franko plays the crowd as DJ Kethro looks on last Saturday at Beer Nebraska at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Pretty durn good turnout at Beer Nebraska Saturday night at The Slowdown considering that Chvrches was going on at the same time up in Benson.

I’m not a beer connoisseur but I know what I like, and for me, Zip Line’s Sticky Blossoms and First Street Brewery’s Freakastout got the gold medals in the Lazy-i Taste Test. Drinking five samples of local microbrews made for a different kind of listening experience than my usual Rolling Rock tallboys.

But what about the music? I caught sets by Mesonjixx, Freakabout, Conny Franko and Icky Blossoms.

Franko and DJ Kethro (who was terrific, playing tracks by Thundercat, Kids See Ghosts, Mayer Hawthorne, J Cole and Sade, among others) were the evening’s highlight. That said, as much as I like The Slowdown’s sound system, I couldn’t make out a word Franko rhymed, which is problematic when you’re talking about an art form that emphasizes words as much as beats. Still, you caught the vibe, and his a cappella reading that closed his short set was impactful.

Icky Blossoms at Beer Nebraska at The Slowdown, Aug. 4, 2018.

Icky Blossoms had their usual strong performance (with a few technical glitches early in the set). They play so infrequently that every time I see them I hear something different, though I’m still waiting anxiously for their next album (if one is even in the works).

Mesonjixx rhythm section is what floored me about their set, along with some tasty guitar solos. Their drummer slayed. As did the drummer for Freakabout.

Fun night and a fun crowd there to support Rabble Mill.

* * *

Tonight Chicago singer/songwriter Sam Vicari headlines at Reverb Lounge. Magu and Win/Win open. $7, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, former indie starts Portugal, The Man headline at Stir Concert Cove. 8 p.m. show, tix are in the $40 range…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i