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Zola Jesus at The Waiting Room Oct. 11, 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.



Jack White coming to Baxter Arena, and what about that (proposed) La Vista venue…?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm January 16, 2018

Jack White’s headed to Baxter Arena…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ll tell you right up front — I’m not a big Jack White or White Stripes fan. Just never really dug their music, though I get the attraction. They’re sort of a mainstream garage rock act; to me, White always sounded like he was aping Led Zeppelin (though nowhere near as much as Greta Van Fleet).

What’s interesting about today’s announcement that White has been booked to play Omaha April 23 is where the show is being held: Baxter Arena. I think the Baxter has hosted music in the past, but nothing like this.

I personally love Baxter Arena. The facility is right-sized, perfect for the UNO hockey program and a huge upgrade to the craptacular CenturyLink Center — one of the worst places I’ve seen a rock concert (Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen, The Who, three strikes you’re out). I wondered when it opened if Baxter could become a viable alternative to the old Civic Auditorium and CB’s Mid-America Center for bigly concerts like this. Baxter has a capacity of 7,898, according to Wiki (Vs. CenturyLink’s massive 17, 560 capacity). It’s in a great location, a modern facility with great sight lines. But I have no idea how a rock band will sound in there.

This brings up the recent news of a possible new venue in La Vista run by the guys who run One Percent Productions and KC’s Mammoth Inc.

From the OWH article:

The hope would be for the indoor club to seat about 2,000 and the amphitheater to seat about 4,500. While there are other indoor venues that seat around that many people, there are no other places in the area that pair that size of an indoor space with a sizable outdoor amphitheater. Also, many existing venues of that size in town are hard to get acts into because they book up so fast,...”

The proposed amphitheater would seat around 4,500, according to the article, which also said the new venue would allow Omaha to compete for shows it hasn’t been able to compete for in the past, like “Lauryn Hill, Arcade Fire, David Byrne and LCD Soundsystem — all artists that have skipped Omaha at some point because there wasn’t a venue that met their needs…

While Arcade Fire has been reportedly playing to half-full arenas, you would still think a 2,000-capacity venue would be way too small. Same goes for LCD Soundsystem. David Byrne played at the Holland Center back in 2008, and didn’t sell it out (which to me, seems a more likely reason for passing over Omaha this time ’round).

Regardless, the La Vista project is exciting news and could provide another venue for the kind of acts booked at the 3,500-capacity Stir Cove. That is, if it happens. The article said the indoor club is estimated to cost about $15 million, and would be privately funded by the booking companies and another investor, while the amphitheater would be funded by the City of La Vista, and “La Vista spokesman Mitch Beaumont said the city hasn’t committed to anything yet and has no cost estimate for an amphitheater.” Hmmm….

I’m sure all parties involved will be keeping an eye on how well the Jack White show sells (or doesn’t sell)…

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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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Two Houses, Uh-Oh tonight; Karen Meat, Sunbathe, St. Vincent Saturday; Clarence Tilton, Urgh! Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm January 12, 2018

St, Vincent at Slowdown Jr., June 3, 2009. She plays at the Holland Center Saturday.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s gonna be another one of those ice-cold weekends, the kind where it takes every bit of your dying will to drag yourself out of your house/apartment, get into a frozen car and drive somewhere…. especially when it’s so much easier to sit at home all warm and coze and binge-watch The Great British Baking Show on Netflix…

Still… here are some good reasons to put on your leather parka, get out and go…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s a big four-band bill headlined by Chicago rockers Two Houses. Supporting them is a slew of local acts, top of which is the musically infectious Uh-Oh. With White Wolf T-Shirt and Mad Dog + The 20/20s. $5, 10 p.m.

Saturday night Des Moines’ Karen Meat returns to O’Leavers. She came through here about the same time last year. From the review of that show:

Front woman Karen Meat a.k.a. Arin Eaton, filled the void with her girlish growl on golden garage-rock tunes that got me singing along by the third time through the chorus. Check out the recordings.

With Hussies, Dubb Nubb and Detachable Limbs. $5, 10 p.m.

Also Saturday night, The Brothers is hosting a rock show with Portland act Sunbathe. Razors and headliner Oquoa fill out the bill. $5, 10 p.m. This one’s sneaky good!

And then you have St. Vincent at The Holland. I’ve seen her play here four times, including back when she was basically fronting a rock band. Those early shows (The Waiting Room, Slowdown Jr.) were the best; the more recent ones were too stiff and choreographed (i.e., boring). Add to that the fact that this is happening at Holland Center and, well, that venue isn’t the best place to see a rock show — the pristine, sterile environment kind of sucks the life out of the audience. Maybe that’s why tickets are still available. $32-$42; 8 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, Hi-Fi House is hosting a free listening party for the new Clarence Tilton/Monday Mourners split LP. I’ve listened to a preview copy of the record (a number of times) and can tell you it’s worth your time. 4 p.m.

And finally, over at Film Streams Sunday night, it’s a special screening of Urgh! A Music War. It was way back in August 2005 that myself and Mike Tulis hosted a screening of this film at O’Leaver’s. It was actually my bootleg DVD copy of the full-length version of the movie. You can read about that event (and what the movie’s all about) online right here.

From my review of that night and that screening:

The turnout was good (over 50?), and it was fun to see which bands got the biggest reaction. I think The Cramps won, followed by Gang of Four, Devo and 999 (There were actually people singing along to “Homicide”).

I have no doubt the turnout will be even better when Film Streams downtown screens Urgh! A Music War Sunday night at 7 p.m. If you haven’t seen this film, you should go. Twenty-five years after it was made Urgh! stands as a valuable document of ’80s underground music.

And that’s all I got for this weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Try to stay warm and 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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Nate Krenkel on piracy, streaming (from 2015); Dereck Higgins, Chemicals tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 3:50 pm January 11, 2018

Chemicals performing at Hi-Fi House, April 16, 2016. The band plays tonight at The Down Under.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I guess consider this video a Throwback Thursday since it went online way back in 2015. I just discovered it this morning when I was trying to remember whether Nate Krenkel was the guy who ran Team Love Records — he is. He’s also the guy, along with Gabe Gonzalez, who runs NAG Management. They’ve represented Conor Oberst’s projects since back in the day. NAG also works with Mega Bog, who opens for Destroyer at The Waiting Room Feb. 4.

Anyway, doing my Googling, I fell into this video from Copyright Alliance of Krenkel talking about piracy, streaming and record labels from way back in 2015. I mean, if I’ve never seen it before, it’s new to me, right? Nate points to a grim future in a streaming-only world. Take a look:

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Tonight musician extraodinaire Dereck Higgins launches his new monthly showcase at The Down Under Lounge. Aptly titled “An Evening with Dereck Higgins,” it features Higgins’ various musical projects as well as local and regional acts, visual artists, etc. Tonight Higgins welcomes his red-hot progressive jazz project Chemicals, while Hugo’s Art Galleries will display the works of Derek Shockey.

This one’s free and starts at 9 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

Shawn Foree (Digital Leather) talks Pink Thunder; Tennis, Nathan Ma and the Psychic Readers tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:50 pm January 10, 2018

Tennis at The Waiting Room, Nov. 5, 2014. The band returns to tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

One of Hear Nebraska’s last forays into music journalism (for now, anyway) was a video interview with Digital Leather’s Shawn Foree about his just-released LP Pink Thunder. Read it here.

It’s a straight-up interview by HN’s Lauren Farris, and when I look back at what HN did in terms of music reporting, this was the kind of stuff I liked best. Because there simply isn’t anyone interviewing local bands anymore in a way that HN approached these interviews — in depth, professional, with the writer staying out of the copy and out of the frame.

It makes me miss what I used to do at The Reader back when it was a weekly and I was hustling an interview a week (plus a column). HN’s recent departure brings up the question of  music journalism’s relevance to the general local music audience. I personally think it’s important; that it still needs to be done. We just need to find a place to do it (in addition to in ol’ Lazy-i).

Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone started a music weekly with interviews, album reviews, live reviews, photos and a gig calendar?? I’d subscribe.

Anyway, I finally got my chance to interview Foree a couple years ago when Digital Leather released All Faded. He’s an interesting dude and one of the most talented musicians and songwriters in Nebraska. It’s appropriate that HN went out by interviewing him. Check it out and check out Pink Thunder, which you can order online here and, I believe, is available in its vinyl incarnation at Almost Music.

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Two shows going on tonight…

At The Waiting Room it’s the return of Tennis, who just played here this past summer when they headlined Farnam Fest. New York electro-pop duo Overcoats (Arts & Crafts Records) opens at 8 p.m. $18.

Also tonight, Pageturners’ Winter Concert Series continues with Nathan Ma and the Psychic Readers. This one is free and starts at 9 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

High Up announces debut full-length on Team Love, out Feb. 23; and the winners are…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:44 pm January 8, 2018

High Up’s latest promo shot. Photo by Andy Lachance.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This morning news broke that High Up will release its debut full length, You Are Here, Feb. 23 on Team Love Records.

High Up, You Are Here (2018, Team Love)

The album was recorded and produced by Mike Mogis at ARC. Pre-order info is already up on their Bandcamp page. From the press release: “The band…  draws from a wide variety of influences — from Janis Joplin, (who (frontwoman) Christine (Fink) is frequently compared to at live shows from misty-eyed ex-hippies), Sam Cooke, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to Dead Kennedys and The Birthday Party.”

Misty-eyed ex-hippies? Dead Kennedys and The Birthday Party? Hmmm….

Anyway, the track list includes three of four songs off that 4-song EP that came out last year (“Trees Keep Growing” was left off for some reason). Check it out below:

You Are Here Track List

1. Alabama To The Basement
2. Two Weeks
3. Make A Plan To Love Me
4. Blue Moon
5. Girl Walking Home Alone At Night
6. All Torn Up
7. Domino
8. Your System Failed You
9. Glorious Giving In
10. You Can’t Give Up On Me
11. Before The Storm

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Without further ado, the winners of this year’s Lazy-i Best of 2017 CD giveaway are: Cary Waldo, Jack Parks, Evan Keelan-White and Kelly Murphy. Your copies will be dropped in the mail (probably) tomorrow. Thanks to all who entered!

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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

Pkew Pkew Pkew, BFF (Steve Schneider) tonight; Relax It’s Science, Bowie tribute Saturday; last chance to enter the Lazy-i Best of 2017 drawing…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm January 5, 2018

Relax, It’s Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016. The band plays Saturday at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another cold, somewhat quiet weekend, at least as far as indie shows are concerned. Let’s get into it…

Pkew Pkew Pkew, who play at Lookout Lounge tonight, are sort of a yell rock act a la Andrew WK, though you could argue they’re more melodic bordering on emo/pop-punk. They played a Milk Run show a couple years ago, which makes them OK in my book. Since this is a Lookout Lounge show, it’s a four-band line-up (Why? I guess to sell more beer? No one wants to see a four- or five-band line-up). It starts at 9 with Blandford, followed by Lincoln’s Hosting Monsters, Waking the Neighbors then P3. $10.

An example of Steve Schneider’s art, which is on display tonight at The Little Gallery in Benson.

Believe it or not, it’s also the first Friday of the month which means Benson First Friday (BFF). If you’re in the East Benson area (you know, east of The Sydney) stop into the Little Gallery, 5901 Maple Street (the bottom bay of the Masonic Lodge building), where we have a reception going tonight featuring the work of Steve Schneider.

Steve Schneider sometime in the ’90s. Photo courtesy of Stephen Sheehan.

Who is Steve Schneider? I asked Stephen Sheehan (who knows him and who, incidentally, will be performing as part of the Bennie and the Gents Bowie Tribute tomorrow night at The Waiting Room).

Says Stephen: “I suppose you could begin by saying ‘local artist and experimental musician’ who performed and recorded around Omaha in the late ’80s through the mid-’90s. While his main instrument was saxophone, Steve was known to incorporate children’s toys and found objects into his performances. Steve was a master of band names and performed under many, such as Little Bro Peep and The Church of the Obvious Choice.”

Sheehan said Schneider recorded a double album with Tom Ware at Ware House Studios but it was never officially released and only a few copies are in circulation. Some might remember Schneider as someone who frequently busked in the Old Market on street corners. These days Schneider lives in the Pacific Northwest under the name Shane Ronet.

Needless to say, there’s a ton of his art as part of this reception. Check it out. Booze, treats provided. 6 to 9 p.m. See you there.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) the double-bass attack of Relax, It’s Science returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them are new act Bled Notes (Julie Kestner and Co.) and Lincoln act Brazen Throats (members of Nanahara) who says this will be their last show ever. Come say goodbye at 9 p.m. $5.

And finally, tomorrow night is the third annual Bennie Does Bowie show at The Waiting Room. See Bennie and the Gents (along with special guests) take on the Bowie catalog. The Beat Seekers open at 9 p.m. $10.

Lazy-i Best of 2017

And that’s it for shows. If I missed yours put it in the comments section.

Finally, today is your last chance to get in on the drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD.

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes from last year, including songs from SUSTO, David Nance, Alvvays, Luna, The Lupines, LCD Soundsystem, Digital Leather, Beck, CLOSENESS, King Krule, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Want one? Enter to my drawing to win a copy of this limited-edition, hand-crafted CD. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is tonight (Jan. 5) at midnight!

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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

Austin’s Stacks project was inspired by Ready Player One (and helps kids out)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:24 pm January 4, 2018

The Stacks – Songs from the Oasis, various artists (2018, Brash Tracks)

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This year in Lazy-i I’m filling in the holes when nothing’s happening locally with record reviews (mostly local), gossip, and stories like the one below, which are pretty cool. Plus, I like Austin…

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So I’m about 100 pages into the novel Ready Player One, which I picked up at the library (Yes, some of us still go to the library) after I saw the trailer for the upcoming Spielberg film and then read a brief review of the novel. It’s pretty good so far, certainly something someone from my generation can relate to (as it’s about a tech genius who deifies ’80s pop culture).

I bring it up because yesterday I got an email from Brian McKinney of Brash Tracks cluing me in on a new record called The Stacks, Songs from the Oasis. It’s an album of 18 classic ’80s songs covered by 16 Austin-based bands, with part of the proceeds going to help foster kids get free music lessons and mentorship — could the charity be any more heart-tugging?

The record was actually inspired by the novel Ready Player One by Austin dude Ernest Cline (“The Stacks” are stacked up mobile-home trailers — sometimes stacked 25 high — where poor people live in the future). After reading the book, McKinney got that bright idea of tapping Austin bands to record versions of songs mentioned in the book, like “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol, “The Wild Boys” by Duran Duran, and “Dirty Deeds” by AC/DC, etc.  Austin artists involved include BOOHER (ex-Zykos), Pocket Sounds (Mike St. Clair ex-Polyphonic Spree), Mobley, Belcurve, Obscured by Echoes and more.

You hear about these kinds of multi-band charity efforts all the time, and I always wonder how the producers manage to pick the bands from the crowd, so I asked McKinney.

I was managing (Mike) Booher the last couple years – Mike Booher used to front Zykos and I met him on tour with The Good Life in Chapel Hill around 2002,” McKinney wrote. “Through him I met Robyn (Foxworth) who’s one of the biggest supporters of Austin music that I know. We put together a list of bands and started contacting them. The 16 that are on the album we’re the ones who were interested and had the time and resources to record something. Since it was for charity and we’re giving 50 percent to Kids In a New Groove (KING) and the bands split the other 50 percent, we didn’t have a budget to pay for studio time or anything.

The record comes out Feb. 2, but you can see the track listing and pre-order it at their Bandcamp page here, and hear samples below.

Here’s a sample mix…

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Got news? Send it to me, and read it 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Criteria, Little Brazil rock The Waiting Room at holiday showcase…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:48 pm January 3, 2018

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You’d think sub-zero weather would have shooed fans away from going to The Waiting Room last Saturday night. No sir. A rather large and festive crowd showed up to see a line-up of acts that first made their mark in the mid 2000s perform with the same vigor they showed in their hey-day, and maybe give us hope in this modern age we live in.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room Dec. 30, 2017.

Little Brazil boasted yet another new line-up. The core duo of Landon Hedges and Danny Maxwell remain intact, but now Shawn Cox, who you may remember from Landing on the Moon or Microphone Jones, is handling lead guitars while See Through Dresses’ Nate Van Fleet was behind the drum kit. The result was a different sound for LB, most notably coming from Cox, whose more controlled style is a contrast to former guitarist Mike Friedman’s edgy, frenetic sound. Cox’s solos had a melodic and (dare I say it) Clapton-esque feel (And this isn’t a jab at Friedman, who I think is one of the best guitarists to ever come out of Omaha).

LB played old favorites including “Brighton Beach” and “You and Me,” but really uncorked it on a number of new songs, including one they’d never played live before, which was my favorite of the evening. Or maybe I’m just excited to hear new stuff from LB. The band is about to put out a new album (recorded years ago) on new label Max Trax Records. Hedges says he also has a gaggle of even newer songs queued up and ready for a return to the studio. Call it a second coming for Little Brazil, and who knows what will happen if they get their show on the road…

Criteria remains ageless. Frontman/heart-throb/teen idol Stephen Pedersen — in trademark striped T-shirt — has lost none of the panache. I kept waiting for him to step into a pothole on those high notes, but he hit them all night. While the rest of the crew — drummer Mike Sweeney, bassist A.J. Mogis and guitarist Aaron Druery — played as if they just finished a month-long tour instead of performing one of their semi-annual shows.

Criteria transitioned into a weekend warrior act back in 2008 or so but never lost its edge, and continues to write and perform new material, though a rumored new record never seems to materialize. That kind of thing costs money, and if you’re not going to hit the road, does it make sense to release new stuff? I say “why not?” though I’m not the one footing the bill.

That said, while Saddle Creek might be too busy with shiny pennies like Big Thief and Hop Along, labels like 15 Passenger (Cursive’s new label) or the aforementioned Max Trax could be interesting homes for new Criteria material.

Regardless of what happens, this holiday concert, which also featured opener Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, has become an Omaha tradition that never gets old, right along with these bands…

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Lazy-i Best of 2017

Here’s another thing that never gets old: the Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD.

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes from last year, including songs from SUSTO, David Nance, Alvvays, Luna, The Lupines, LCD Soundsystem, Digital Leather, Beck, CLOSENESS, King Krule, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Want one? Enter to my drawing to win a copy of this limited-edition, hand-crafted CD. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 5.

* * *

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

Music Visions of 2018 (What will happen next year in the Omaha music scene (and beyond)?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:00 pm January 2, 2018


by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You’ve seen what happened in 2017, now read what will happen next year in the world of music. This was originally published in The Reader, also in print this week.

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The year 2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac, but something tells me the music of 2018 will be anything but doggy! But wait, before we get to the predictions for next year, let’s see how well I did with my 2017 predictions

2017 Prediction: With the inauguration of Donald Trump, most indie artists will write at least one controversial track this year, but don’t look for these protest songs on the pop charts.

Reality: Downtown Boys lit the fuse with their take on “The Wall” between U.S. and Mexico; Fiona Apple went after a certain someone with “Tiny Hands,” and Priests sang about a “Pink White House,” but for the most part, we’re still waiting for the anger to come out. Come on, rock stars.

2017 Prediction: A system will emerge that will give starving musicians some sort of subsidy that will allow them to perform their craft.

Reality: Wishful (and some would say deluded) thinking in the Trump Era.

2017 Prediction: Hear Nebraska will emerge in 2017 bigger and stronger than ever, with programs that are even more artist-focused than in the past.

Reality: Nebraska’s music non-profit merged with Lincoln’s The Bay to form super non-profit Rabble Mill that will be bigger and stronger than its parts.

2017 Prediction: More quasi-independent booking agents will emerge to help finance and organize the booking of touring indie shows at local clubs.

Reality: It’s happening, though you may not notice it, yet. To keep up, check out “Nebraska DIY” on Facebook.

2017 Prediction: Watch as Virtual Reality (VR) integrates into live performances, allowing people to feel like they’re at live rock shows while standing in their underwear in their bedrooms.

Reality: On Oct. 4 Matchbox Twenty broadcasted a concert from Denver billed as the “first fan-controlled virtual reality experience” in 360 VR.

2017 Prediction: This will be the year we see a sort of “singularity” with streaming, when so many people will be listening to streaming services that record labels and artists will finally begin to see real income from having their music hosted online, not unlike how film studios make money from HBO and Netflix.

Reality: Streaming service subscriptions now comprise 62 percent of total music revenue in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Labels are seeing some of the money and so are the big artists, but the little guys are still left with pennies.

2017 Prediction: After reaching a 28-year high, vinyl sales finally will reach its ceiling, either leveling off or falling compared to the last couple years’ numbers.

Reality: Year-end numbers weren’t out at press-time, but as of mid-year 2017 vinyl album sales were up 3 percent, to $182 million in revenue.

2017 Prediction: You’ve heard of mix tapes, mix CDs and, of course, Spotify playlists? This year someone will offer the ability to create your own mix vinyl album.

Reality: Uh, no.

2017 Prediction: Too many legends died in 2016. This year no one leaves this earthly plane.

Reality: Unfortunately, we lost a legend in Tom Petty this past October.

2017 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Black Keys, Algiers, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Beck, Father John Misty, Monsters of Folk, Jenny Lewis, St. Vincent, Matt Whipkey, Spoon, Courtney Barnett, High Up, Nine Inch Nails, Little Brazil, and friggin’ U2. Bands we won’t be talking about: Kanye, Bright Eyes, Lady Ga Ga, The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Metallica, Morrissey, Beyonce and R.E.M.

Reality: Pretty dead on, actually, except for Black Keys and Morrissey.

2017 Prediction: While no local act will make his or her way onto a national television broadcast for a live performance, one local band will hit pay dirt in 2017 with a licensing deal that results in hearing their song in heavy rotation… via a TV commercial.

Reality: If there was one, I didn’t hear it.

Final score: 7 for 11, not bad. Now onto the Year of the Dog…

2018 Prediction: With Milk Run gone another DIY venue will emerge to try to fill the void in booking up-and-coming touring indie artists. The hook: It’s a venue you already know about.

2018 Prediction: Saddle Creek Records has been on a roll the last couple years, signing two new artists last year and hitting it out of the park with Big Thief and Hop Along. With new California offices, expect as many as three or four new bands added to the Creek roster in 2018, including at least one veteran indie band looking for a new home.

2018 Prediction: With its numerous world-class venues and recording studios, Omaha always has attracted national musicians to adopt it as their new home, but this year watch as some rather big names leave NYC and LA behind for the cheap digs and central location only Omaha can provide.

2018 Prediction: Those who freaked out when vinyl returned will be doubly shocked when cassette tapes begin to make a comeback this year. Cassettes provide a low-price alternative to music fans looking for a tangible fix who can’t afford to buy vinyl, and for musicians who can’t afford to press it.

2018 Predictions: Speaking of vinyl, as albums sales begin to flatten this year, watch as prices for new vinyl finally begin to drop. Can the $9.99 album be far behind?

2018 Prediction: Fed up with facing a crowd of people holding up smart phones during concerts, artists will implement new technology that will block smart phone cameras from operating inside venues. Now what are we gonna do between acts?

2018 Prediction: With Hi-Fi House going public last summer and Hear Nebraska merging with Lincoln’s The Bay, look for yet another music-related organization to emerge, this time as a non-profit performance venue.

2018 Prediction: In an effort to avoid suffering a sophomore (or junior) slump, more and more bands will change their names after their first of second release. Same band, different name, all to keep their music in front of the ever-fickle music public always looking for the next big thing.

2018 Prediction: With the opening of the new Capitol District we will see even more live original music somewhere downtown other than at No-Do. When was the last time you went to an indie show in the Old Market?

2018 Prediction: As the Maha Music Festival turns 10 this year, expect a mega-spectacular headliner and possibly the festival’s expansion to a two-day event. The time has come.

2018 Prediction: You thought Prince’s and Bowie’s deaths were earth shakers, someone even bigger will be knocking on heaven’s door this year.

2018 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Monsters of Folk, High Up, Little Brazil, David Nance, Low, Stephen Malkmus, Cursive, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Navy Gangs, Bib, Hop Along. Bands we won’t be talking about: Eminem, St. Vincent, U2, Kendrick, Lorde, The National, Fleet Foxes, The xx.

2018 Prediction: Director Alexander Payne, who is about to move back to Omaha, will be so bowled over by the area’s music scene that he not only will try to integrate Omaha music into one of his upcoming films, he’ll begin work on a movie based loosely on the Omaha music scene circa 2003. I know where you can find a screenwriter, Mr. Payne…

First published in The Reader, Jan. 1, 2018. © Copyright 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lazy-i Best of 2017

Hey, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Sheer Mag, David Nance, LCD Soundsystem, Digital Leather, Beck, CLOSENESS, King Krule, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

So the big news is you, too, could win a copy of the CD. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 5.

* * *

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

2017: Music Year in Review (the people and places that impacted Omaha’s indie music scene)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: — @ 12:45 pm January 1, 2018


by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This was posted in The Reader yesterday (here), so you might already have seen it. It’s also in the printed edition, which hits the streets this week. I include it here for posterity (so if The Reader ever goes belly-up, it’ll still be online somewhere, cuz Lazy-i is forever). The infamous “Predictions” story goes online at The Reader this afternoon. I’ll post it here tomorrow.

Did I forget to say Happy New Year? Happy New Year! We go back to regular programming on Wednesday with a review of Saturday night’s Little Brazil/Criteria show at The Waiting Room. See you then.

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2017: The Year in Music

It’s been a turbulent year for local indie music, a year marked by highs, lows and everything in between.

We’ll get to all that, but first we can’t overlook the obvious: It’s been another great year for new music. While whispers of a dying music industry have been echoing around us for over a decade, more remarkable music was produced last year than in recent memory. So much that it’s impossible to keep up with it all.

In the old days, if you were an indie music fan like me, all you had to do to keep up with the good stuff was know your record labels; but these days I’m starting to wonder if labels are going the way of the dinosaur.

Case in point, open your Spotify app on your phone or your desktop and pull up a playlist. You’ll find a list of band names, a list of titles, but you’ve really gotta dig to figure out which record label an artist is signed to. To folks who consume music via streaming services, record labels don’t matter and probably never did.

But for others, record labels meant everything. Before streaming, serious indie fans purchased music based on record label alone. If the artist was on, for examples, Matador or Sub Pop or 4AD or Rhymesayers or Saddle Creek, a purchase was made with nary a note heard, because you trusted the labels’ taste in artists. And sometimes you blew it but most times you got your money’s worth.

Streaming is changing everything. I mean, does anyone even buy music anymore?

Midway through 2017, the American music industry boasted revenue growth of 17 percent, with retail income at $4 billion. The numbers were fueled not by records sales, but by more than 30 million subscriptions to streaming services that now comprise 62 percent of the total music market, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Physical sales of vinyl and CDs only comprised 16 percent of music industry revenue through mid-year.

“More than any other creative industry, music is a digital business, with approximately 80% of our revenues coming from a wide array of digital services,” said the RIAA in its mid-year press release.

And yet, labels are still very much with us. Case in point: Our own Saddle Creek Records enjoyed a robust year, signing new acts Stef Chura and Young Jesus while basking in the glow of the continued success of new-hires Hop Along and especially Big Thief, whose release, Capacity, is on every prominent music journal’s “best of” list, from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork.

With a just-opened office in Los Angeles, what does Saddle Creek Records have up its sleeve for 2018?

Saddle Creek’s resurgence wasn’t the only local headline last year. Among the other noteworthy stories in 2017:

  • In September DIY music club Milk Run was shut down, apparently for good. According to a Hear Nebraska report, cops showed up during the Nebraska Hardcore Showcase and locked down the cavernous show space, located in the basement of Midtown Art Supply at 2578 Harney. The building’s landlord said no more, and while the remaining schedule of Milk Run shows were performed in venues around mid-town, a new location has yet to be identified. Is this the end of Milk Run?
  • Local musicians Orenda Fink, Simon Joyner and Noah Sterba were ensconced in controversy over their music and their performances, driven in part by outspoken critics organized in Facebook. The issues involved race, accusations of cultural approbation and artistic freedom, and the impacts are likely to be felt well into the future, unfortunately.
  • Nebraska music non-profit Hear Nebraska joined forces with Lincoln non-profit The Bay to form a new umbrella organization called Rabble Mill, which launched Jan. 1. Rabble Mill’s goal is to enable kids to “discover their passion and build valuable life and professional skills.” Hear Nebraska, which was formed in 2010, will continue as part of Rabble Mill, but expect to see a lot of changes.
  • After operating for more than a year as a hush-hush private club, Hi-Fi House finally went public in September. The spacious high-end music listening room, located at 3724 Farnam St. in the Blackstone District, offers access to its ever-growing, massive private vinyl collection as well as other special programming. Founder Kate Dussault said the Omaha Hi-Fi House is merely the first of what she hopes will be a nationwide network of private listening rooms.
  • Speaking of indie labels, in January, the guys from Cursive — Tim Kasher, Matt Maginn and Ted Stevens — launched their own label, 15 Passenger Records. Their first release was Kasher’s third solo album, No Resolution, while the label closed out the year by reissuing Cursive’s first two albums with promises of new Cursive material in the near future.
  • And finally, Omaha’s two best music venues — The Waiting Room and The Slowdown — celebrated their 10 year anniversaries this summer. Both venues have been stalwarts of the local music scene as well as conduits that brought the nation’s best indie music to Omaha for the past decade.

Which brings us to the “list” part of the Year in Review.

As mentioned above, last year was as strong a year as I can remember for indie releases (located right here); Still, last year I went to fewer rock shows than any year since the ’90s, when indie music was underground (literally). I likely missed more shows than I saw, but that said, here are my favorite shows from 2017:

Umm at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2016

Umm at Reverb Lounge, April 13 — Umm is a new project by Stef Drootin and Chris Sensensey that sounds nothing like their other band, Big Harp. The rock style, the blistering pace, the guitar/bass tones, even Senseney’s voice — now cool and easy — was a big contrast to the grave-pit vocals heard on Big Harp albums.

Jon Langford & Friends at O’Leaver’s, May 29 — Langford of The Mekons performed a cracking set that included songs from his upcoming album as well as some Mekons’ gold and songs from his Waco Brothers project. I was expecting a C&W set, but Langford’s style was more of a rootsy British folk-meets-rock mix.

David Nance at The Sydney, July 7, 2017.

David Nance at The Sydney, July 10— His guitar work was already respected — ranging from big riffs to lead fills to walls of feedback — now his voice is taking center stage. The only comparison in my mind is early Jon Spencer, and Nance does have a similar stage appeal, albeit hidden behind that huge head of hair.

Tobin Sprout at Reverb Lounge, July 21— What I love about his and Guided By Voices’ songs, beyond the riffs and bright, energetic melodies, is their brevity. Sprout songs rarely last longer than three minutes. Get in, get out, move on. And though the crowd was small, it was lively, comprised mostly of old-time fans who weren’t afraid to pump their fists or pogo or cheer when one of their favorites began.

Those Far Out Arrows at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 8 — I knew they were getting to this very young crowd (who, btw, likely never heard of TFOAs prior to this show) when the pack in front of the stage naturally erupted into a pseudo-mosh pit, pushing and shoving and jumping along with one of the band’s mid-set songs. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that at a garage-rock show.

Stephen Sheehan and his band at Reverb Lounge, Aug. 18, 2017.

Stephen Sheehan at Reverb Lounge, Aug. 18 — The frontman to ’80s-’90s post-punk bands Digital Sex and The World, Sheehan surrounded himself with a talented group of musicians who brought his musical past to life. Fans heard the best of Digital Sex, including “In Her Smile,” “Roses on Wednesday,” “The Days Go” and “Red Girl,” but the most daring and provocative moments were The World songs that showcased guitarist Ben Sieff at his revved-up best.

Maha Music Festival at Stinson Park, Aug. 19 — Another banner year for Omaha’s best music festival, highlights included Belle & Sebastian, Downtown Boys, local heroes High Up and The Faint, while headliner Run the Jewels had its set cut short by the weather. How will Maha top it for its 10th anniversary?

Beck at Stir Cove, Sept. 9

Beck at Stir Cove, Sept. 9 — Highlights of his flawless performance included “Qué Onda Güero,” which turned the place into a dance party, and a smoking version of “Dreams.” And then there was “Loser,” a shopping-mall anthem for the dad-rock set that got the crowd singing along with gusto.

Sextile at Meatball, Sept. 16 — A raging electronic No Wave sound barrage, chaotic and fierce, they reminded me of the very early days of The Faint, though the venue made it feel (and look) like an in-store.

Tears of Silver at Hi-Fi House, Oct. 2, 2017.

Tears of Silver at Hi-Fi House, Oct. 2 — Fronted by Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, the band played a set that included covers of songs by Neil Young, Flaming Lips and Al Kooper, as well as favorites by the members’ respective bands: Posies, Mercury Rev and Midlake, closing the night with a Big Star cover. Sublime.

Zola Jesus at The Waiting Room, Oct. 11 — This goth-tinged dance party was fueled by dark pop songs with big beats, thick bass and Rosa Danilova’s amazing voice that (to me) recalled early Sinead O’Connor.

Minneapolis Uranium Club at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

Minneapolis Uranium Club at Pet Shop Gallery, Dec. 9 — This is what would happen if a computer scientist digitally combined Devo, The Dismemberment Plan and Wall of Voodoo into one diabolic sound file — quirky, jittery, precise (and fast) post-punk guitar rock combined with smart, ironic observations about our devolving society and the world around us. And they freakin’ rocked.

First published in The Reader, Dec. 31, 2017. © Copyright 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2017

Hey, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Luna, CLOSENESS, Slowdive, !!!, Digital Leather, Perfume Genius, Big Thief, Wilder Maker and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

So the big news is you, too, could win a copy of the CD. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 5.

* * *

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