I had no intention of staying at Reverb last night, certainly not long enough to see Mates of State. But the opening bands pulled me through almost to the end.
How to describe the twin sisters that make up opening band Good Graeff — guitarist vocalist Brooke and cellist Brit Graeff?
Bubbly? Playful? Fun-loving? Giddy? How about precocious? Or fetching? Let’s just settle for “darling,” and “talented.” The duo, along with a bass player and drummer who were mainly in the background, played a set of up-tempo love songs (introduced by Brooke as love songs, though she said she’s never been in love. Pshaw!) that were catchy and cute and hard not to like.
Good Graeff at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.
They count The Pixies and Tegan and Sara among their influences and are at their best when channeling those bands’ more percussive/less linear moments. When they try their hand at modern, streamlined pop they sound like watered-down Sheryl Crow. Fortunately, those moments were few and far between.
As entertaining as their music was their between-song patter. Led mostly by Brooke who, if this music thing doesn’t work out, she could pursue a career in topical stand-up comedy. When Brit joined in the pair sounded like the Sweeney Sisters. Or maybe the Pigeon Sisters. Now I’m reaching. Watch for their new EP, Good Job Go, out July 10.
Hey Marseilles at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.
They were followed by Hey Marseilles, who, for whatever reason, I keep confusing with Hey Mercedes though the bands have nothing in common except the Hey. The six-piece, who I’d never heard before, sounded like a chamber-pop version of Guster, Death Cab or Jeremy Messersmith, featuring pure indie rock songs augmented with viola and cello.
HM frontman Matt Bishop has a crisp, non-affected vocal style that doesn’t outshine the rest of the band. You get the sense he’s just part of the band instead of an irreplaceable centerpiece. Great stuff worth checking out if you’re into indie pop that relies on strong, complex melodies (and who isn’t?). They also have a new album coming out in the near future.
I was planning on leaving halfway through HM and skipping Mates of State altogether since I had to work this morning, but HM kept my attention with the strength of their last three songs, which blended nicely and finished with a crescendo. I figured what the heck, might as well hang ’til 11.
I haven’t seen Mates of State in years. Their early songwriting relied heavily on Kori Gardner’s brash, almost calliope-style keyboards that had a way of grating. Well, that style of keyboards is gone, replaced by more traditional electric keyboard arrangements that emphasize their current straight-forward indie-pop songwriting. It’s pretty stuff that sits well with Gardner’s and husband, drummer Jason Hammel’s, intertwining vocals.
Pitchfork crushed their new Barsuk-release EP, You’re Going to Make It, with a 3.9 rating saying it “makes life sound like one big bouncy castle of fun, and that unquestioned contentment renders Mates of State musically anonymous.” Maybe so, but I doubt the duo were targeting the Pitchfork reader when they wrote the album. Instead, they were targeting people like 100 or so who crowded Reverb, 80 percent of them women. The first three rows of people standing hear the stage were mainly 20-something women pseudo-dancing (i.e., shaking their shoulders) and singing every word. These were happy people, having a happy time, which doesn’t describe the typical glum, too-serious Pitchfork reader.
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The Fourth of July can really be a bust for shows, but it definitely kicks off with a bang tonight.
Tonight Icky Blossoms belatedly celebrates the release of Mask in The Slowdown’s big room. I’ve been told to expect a “new light show, stage props, and some other fun stuff happening.” What do the Icky’s have up their sleeves? Opening is Eric In Outerspace, BOTH and Thick Paint. $10, 9 p.m.
Also tonight LA first-wave punk band The Weirdos headlines at The Lookout Lounge. The band has been blowing shit up since ’75. Opening is Bullet Proof Hearts, Hand Painted Police Car and Omaha punk legends R.A.F. $13, 9 p.m.
And it’s Benson First Friday. If you’re walking around Maple Street tonight, drop into The Little Gallery at Polecat HQ, located right across the street from The Sydney, where we’re featuring the works of Brian Tait — artist, musician, poet, madman.
Tomorrow night is the 4th of July and what better place to toast Ol’ Glory than fabulous O’Leaver’s? The Independence Day Weenie Roast features three All-America bands: the patriots of Pro-Magnum, the warriors of Dumb Beach and the heroes of New Lungs. Will there be fireworks? Oh yes, but only of the rock ‘n’ roll variety. (But yeah, some a-hole probably will shoot roman candles at people in the parking lot. You know how it goes.). Hot dogs and chips are served at 8 p.m.; the rock starts at 9. $5.
Finally on Sunday, Canadian singer/songwriter Calvin Love headlines at Slowdown Jr. Love’s sophomore album, Super Future, was released this year by Arts & Crafts and is rather sublime. Lineman’s Rodeo opens this 8 p.m. show. $8.
And that’s all I got. If I forgot your show, post it in the comments section. Have a fantastic Fourth of July.
Speaking of online-only radio stations (like Beats 1), someone recently passed along a link to the new RadiOmaha website.
There’s not a lot of info about the site at the site: “We’re online. We’re worldwide. We’re from Omaha – a vibrant music community that’s home to exciting emerging artists. We play great alternative artists and classic rock hits, and we bring great Omaha artists to the world.”
According to their website, their music mix is 50 percent new alternative & Indie; 15 percent classic rock; 15 percent local Omaha artists; 10 percent new cuts from classic artists and 10 percent blues, world, reggae and specialty shows. I’ve listened off and on for a few days have heard few indie tracks, but maybe I’m just unlucky. So far I’ve heard mostly jazz, blues and oldies. Locals heard include tracks by Kris Lager and Scott Severin.
This morning before work I heard on RadiOmaha “Go To Hell” by The Clash, followed by a smooth jazz instrumental, followed by “Time Has Told Me” by Nick Drake. That was followed by an unidentified voice talking about an ancient Firehose in-store performance at Homer’s, a brief comment about lengthening the school day, and an episode of Lance Stallion Radio Detective — what used to be a staple of the Otis 12 & Diver Dan show on Z-92 20 or so years ago.
If you’re wondering how RadiOmaha can legally stream label-produced music, the website apparently has acquired a license from StreamLicencing.com, which covers ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN royalties and performance fees. That means they can live-stream just about anything.
The station is the brainchild of Rick Galusha, who has been putting it together for a few years. On-air hosts include some familiar names: Diver Dan (formerly a Z-92 host), Victor Hahn, Ariann Anderson, Mike and Tom Becka, MarQ Manner, BJ Huchtemann, David Leibowitz, Michael Murphy, along with others whose names aren’t so familiar. Check out the entire list here.
Why are online-only radio stations like RadiOmaha and HN Radio (let alone big names like Beats 1 and KEXP) relevant? Because it’s just a matter of time before someone figures out how to get Internet radio stations to play in your cars. They already do if you know how to tune them in on your smartphone (I use the TuneIn Radio app, which allows you to stream most local and national radio stations) and your car stereo is Bluetooth enabled, like mine is.
Eventually car makers (and car stereo makers) will “get it” and you’ll be able to tune to your favorite web-only radio station as easily as you tune into a local terrestrial station.
A bigger issue for local web radio is content generation. One assumes that RadiOmaha is merely a stream of pre-recorded shows/podcasts by the aforementioned jocks strung together in a loop that plays endlessly — i.e., not real live broadcasting. There is no other way a station (or its volunteer jocks) could pull it off, at least until they become popular enough to sell advertising.
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Good ol’ Mates of State (Barsuk, Polyvinyl) returns to Omaha tonight, this time at Reverb Lounge. The band has been touring though Omaha since 2002 (as evidenced by this Lazy-i interview — whoa, Neva Dinova and Race for Titles opened that show!). More amazing than the band still performing is that the husband-and-wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are still married. They’re on the road supporting their recently released EP, You’re Going to Make It (Barsuk/Fierce Panda). Opening is Seattle’s Hey Marseilles and Sarasota-based twin sister duo Good Graeff. $16, 9 p.m.
Also tonight, Luke Polipnick headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Mitch Towne and Dana Murray. $5, 9:30 p.m.
I think it is. Not because it’s anything special. At best, it’s a knock-off of Spotify. And not because it provides a new way to listen to new music. Apple Music’s Beats 1 is a lesser version of Sirius satellite offerings (specifically XMU).
The reason Apple Music is a game changer is because it’s convenient; it’s easy. If you own an iPhone, Apple Music is a mere touch away after you update your iOS. It’s baked into iTunes, which means it’s right in front of your nose. Just tap the three-month free offer and you’ve opened your listening experience to a global collection of music.
Apple Music became available yesterday at 10 a.m. I updated my iPhone with the new OS during a staff meeting. By the time the meeting ended, the update was installed. After accepting the Apple Music offer, I could search Apple Music’s vast music library in addition to my own. My first search was for Queen’s Live at the Rainbow ’74 album, which I’d been listening to in Spotify. There it was. Tap-tap-tap and Freddie Mercury was blazing “Keep Yourself Alive” through my earbuds.
With immediate access to just about any popular recorded music, why would anyone buy another album from iTunes? There are exceptions. Prince doesn’t exist in Apple Music. Nor does The Beatles. But Taylor Swift is there. So is Metallica. And AC/DC, which Apple is making a big fuss over. Come on, doesn’t everyone already own Back in Black?
The rest of Apple Music’s offerings — the other new features —probably won’t get used. “Connect” — Apple Music’s “social platform” is a hodge-podge oddity that sort of resembles Tumblr with lots of Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails content. Why would anyone look there?
“For You” is a music picker that asks you what kind of music and which artists you like, and then makes recommendations based on your responses, sort of like the “recommended” tab in Netflix. It also creates playlists, such as “Morrissey: Political Songs” and “Inspired by Scott Walker” which includes tracks by Belle & Sebastian, Bowie, Pulp, Tindersticks, etc. This might be worth keeping an eye on.
Then there’s Beats 1, Apple’s so-called radio station that’s “Worldwide. Always on.” There was a bit of a buzz listening to Beats 1 right after the launch, sort of like when MTV first launched in the ’80s and you wondered if music television would really be relevant and/or would anyone listen/watch it. We did, of course. I’m not sure that’ll be the case with Beats 1.
First off, the music isn’t always live. Late last night they replayed their first hours of the broadcast from earlier that morning. It turns out that Apple streams live, though the programming is likely pre-recorded, and includes 12-by-12 reruns — 12 hours new, 12 hours rebroadcast, which sucks. The beauty of live radio was that it was live. These days, only talk radio is truly live. Most music radio stations are run by pre-recorded robots.
Had Beats 1 really been a 24/7 live broadcast, it might have become a sort of global taste-maker touch-point, like MTV was for a few years after its launch. Another problem: The station’s overbearing DJs have a nasty habit of talking during the songs — in fact, right in the middle of songs. Is talking over songs a “DJ thing” these days? The station also barks out “worldwide, always on” during the middle of songs — i.e., commercials during the music. Consider it an audio watermark, sort of like that network logo that appears in the corner of your TV screen. Awful. Maybe it’s just a temporary thing during launch week? Something tells me it’s not.
Beats 1 played two songs by Bully during the first couple hours of broadcast, making me wonder how bands get added to this rather valuable playlist that’s “aired in 100 countries.” Like KROQ and Sirius XMU, Beats 1 has the power to turn unknowns into mega-stars by simply airing their music. Because in an era when everyone has 10 million albums available at their fingertips, music curation is the candlelight in the wilderness.
In fact, getting your music added to playlists has become the most important thing for bands and record labels. If you can get added to any of these top-100 playlists in Spotify, for example, you immediately get your music heard by millions of people who wouldn’t have heard it otherwise while at the same time scoring valuable “plays” that add to your pocketbook. Getting added to popular playlists likely will involve spending lots of money, and hiring an agent.
I’ve been a Spotify subscriber for a few years. Will I switch to Apple Music? Probably. Though it doesn’t add any new functions, Apple Music is better integrated with iTunes, which I always have open on my desktop and iPhone. Spotify only has two features I’ll miss: a Running app that matches music to your running tempo (very cool) and a small screen on the desktop that shows what friends who use Spotify are listening to — believe it or not, your taste matters to me.
But what about the whole “pay the artist” issue? I’ll still buy vinyl versions of music I can’t live without. And a recent discussion with two label reps and a publicist has changed my mind on the value of streaming, at least for mid-level record labels with valuable back catalogs. There’s still no answer for new bands who are getting paid in pennies for streaming. Those bands not repped by a label have a right to keep their music off streaming services. But can they afford to?
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Canada Day is being celebrated tonight at The Waiting Room. The concert, which benefits the Siena/Francis House, features a cadre of local musicians covering Canadian artists. Performers include Michael Campbell, Vago, 24 Hour Cardlock, Sunless Trio, The Electroliners, Tara Vaughan, The Prairie Gators, Kait Berreckman and Castor. $8, 7 p.m., ya hoser!
O’Leaver’s updated their sound system, again. I don’t know the specifics behind the technology. Sound engineer Ian Aeillo can tell you. What I can tell you is there are now two massive stacks of speakers on either side of O’Leaver’s “stage,” and they sound good and loud (though one stack, on stage left, now blocks my view from one of my favorite leanin’ spots. Oh well…).
This is the third or fourth time O’Leaver’s has upgraded their sound system since the boys from Cursive and Chris Machmuller took over the venue a few years ago, and it just keeps getting better. The only thing they could do to make the place even better would be to take out the ceiling, add a band riser, knock out the partial wall that divides the raised seating from the hallway that leads to the bathroom and, of course, open that second outdoor patio. Or maybe just nuke the building altogether and build a new club, but that would take away all of O’Leaver’s craptacular charm…
The festivities that brought me to The Club Saturday night was the Digital Leather album release show for their new FDH album All Faded, where we got to see DL perform as an 8-piece — that’s like an entire bucket of chicken, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The Hussy at O’Leaver’s, June 27, 2015.
First up was the The Hussy, the duo of Bobby and Heather Hussy, who were sort of celebrating the release of their own new album, Galore (Southpaw Records), their first release since 2013’s Pagan Hiss. Their one-sheet declares the new record “may be the catchiest and pop-iest record to date.” The record’s range and structure go way beyond your typical “garage rock” album but lacks none of that genre’s attitude. It’s the kind of rock record that Jack White could only dream of making. That said, the album sounds nothing like a White Stripes guitar-and-drum duo sort of record. The tracks are a full-band affair. This is the first Hussy LP with bass guitar added to the entire record, marking it as something of a turning point for the band. You need to hear it.
Anyway, The Hussy performed as a duo Saturday night, losing some of the depth heard on the new record but accentuating Bobby’s crazy-ass guitar gymnastics and Heather’s massive stick work. The duo shared vocals while Bobby bounced high kicks off the monitors and poked out the ceiling tiles with his guitar. Blistering and frantic.
And then came Digital Leather, sporting three keyboard players. Joining Todd Fink and Ben VanHoolandt on keyboards was Greg Elsasser of Capgun Coup. As detailed in this recent Digital Leather feature in The Reader, Elsasser will be replacing Fink for DL’s upcoming tour dates with Desaparecidos. That meant six people (and three keyboard racks) crowding the tiny O’Leaver’s “stage,” made all the more crowded by the 30 or so people who stood right in front of the band.
They opened with “Styrofoam,” played a few songs off All Faded and closed with a very special rendition of “Studs in Love,” that featured Bobby and Heather Hussy, who recorded their own version of the song released on the Digital Leather/The Hussy split LP that came out last year on Southpaw. So, eight people, one massive sound. “Studs in Love” is becoming Digital Leather’s go-to anthem and regular set-closer because, well, there’s nothing quite like it. Will they pull it out when they open for Desa in front of hundreds? I’d love to see how that crowd reacts.
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By the way, I have yet to see a single review of Digital Leather’s All Faded online anywhere (except Hear Nebraska)… What’s up with that?
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Speaking of Todd Fink, after a lengthy hiatus The Faint are back in action again. The band is playing at The Bottom Lounge in Chicago tomorrow night and Summerfest 2015 in Milwaukee Wednesday. Tickets are available at thefaint.com.
For these shows, The Faint will be adding new keyboard player Graham Ulicny from Reptar (and part of the duo Channel Pressure with Todd). Ulicny replaces long-time keyboard player Jacob Thiele, but there’s no word if this is a permanent change to The Faint’s line-up, which includes Fink, drummer Clark Baechle and guitarist Dapose.
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Pageturners Lounge summer series continues tonight with the Burkum Boys. Singer/songwriter Jessica Errett opens. 9 p.m., free.
I just realized it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been to a show. Not because there haven’t been any decent shows, I’ve just been lazy. BTW, for what it’s worth, (most of) my live reviews will now appear both in Lazy-i.com and thereader.com. Why not? It’s easy and it expands the readership.
And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I quit doing the weekly podcast for The Reader. It was too much work for too few listeners. Each episode took two evenings of work — one to record, another to edit. In the end, the most listened-to episode received just south of 200 clicks, and featured an interview with Simon Joyner. As a result, I may revisit the podcast format as a pure Q&A thing in the near future. We’ll see.
Anyway, tonight is Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at Memorial Park and I kind of have to go as it’s practically in my back yard. Shitty Des Moines band Bonne Finken + The Collective opens the show at 6 p.m., followed by that dinosaur Eddie Money and then Joan. I realize Jett has played an important role in the history of rock, but I’ve never been a big fan, even back in the day. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how she’ll address today’s SCOTUS ruling, and if tonight’s show will celebrate something more than Independence Day.
BTW, if you’re going, park at UNO and walk to the park. Stay away from my neighborhood to the north, and gawdamit, STAY OFF MY LAWN.
Also tonight, Neon Trees plays at Stir Concert Cove in CB. I’ve seen these folks at SXSW and they put on a helluva show for a pop band. Tix cost around $45, and it starts at 7:30.
There’s also a punk rock show happening tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Seminal local ’80s punk crew R.A.F. headlines with Cordial Spew and Sioux City’s Ruralaurora. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) is the big Dog Party at O’Leaver’s. Free hot dogs served at 7 p.m., followed by karaoke at 8, and then at around 10 p.m. The Hussy takes the stage. I’ve been listening to their new album, Galore, all morning and it’s a scorcher. They’re followed by Digital Leather who will be celebrating the release of their new album, All Faded (FDH Records). Read about the record here. I guarantee this will be a strange show full of surprises. $5.
Also Saturday night, Oquoa plays at Reverb Lounge. Joining them are Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Geoff Dolce. $7, 9 p.m.
And Ragged Company plays at The Downunder Lounge (soon to move a few blocks down Leavenworth to where The Side Door Lounge used to be). Also on the bill is Mitch Gettman and Dr. Gnarwhal. $5, 9 p.m.
Finally, with the College World Series now in the books for another year, The Slowdown has returned once again to normal operations. To prove it, the venue is hosting The Helio Sequence Sunday night. The band’s new, self-titled album was released on Sub Pop this past May. Opening is Portland band Lost Lander and our very own John Klemmensen and the Party. $11, 8:30 p.m.
That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.
Tonight Desaparecidos joins a tradition that includes Bright Eyes, The Faint, Tilly and the Wall and Cursive by performing live on a nationally televised late-night chat show.
This time it’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. For frontman Conor Oberst, tonight’s performance will be old hat. He’s been doing the late night circuit for a decade. And Denver Dalley was on Jimmy Fallon’s show as part of a Har Mar Superstar performance in 2009. As for the rest of the band, I’m not sure. Matt Baum may have been part of Bright Eyes during one of those broadcasts. Ian? No idea. I’m pretty sure Landon and the rest of Little Brazil have yet to grace the national television airwaves.
Regardless, these late night TV appearances are always a moment of pride for all of us back here in flyover country. If you’re awake, tune in (or set your DVR). Also on the program, which airs at 11:30 p.m. CT on NBC, are male stripper Channing Tatum and Orange is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox.
Another place to watch the show is on the TVs at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where tonight Semicircle is headlining. The band includes members of Reptar. Opening is Lineman’s Rodeo and Thick Paint (also members of Reptar). $5, 9:30 p.m.
You read all the reviews yesterday, buy the album today. Desaparecidos’ Payola drops via Epitaph and is available at all the usual locations and online at iTunes, Amazon and on Spotify, where I’m currently listening to it. Bombastic? Yes.
Desa’s album, as you already know, is a social and political comment. Conor Oberst raging against the machine as only he can. He does as good a job as I suppose anyone could simplifying some of the most challenging issues of our time in less than three minutes per topic. Any more than three minutes would be overkill, both for these topics and these melodies. Because, let’s face it, all the best punk songs are less than three minutes long, right? Anyone following the band has already heard the best tracks (since they were released as singles over the past few years). Taken as a whole, the record is a solid collection of fist-pumping anthems, whether you understand what the songs are about or not.
Digital Leather, All Faded (2015, FDH Records)
On the other hand, Digital Leather’s All Faded, out today via FDH Records, is purely personal, as all Digital Leather records are. Do we really want to hear what frontman Shawn Foree thinks about immigration reform, social media or problems in the Middle East? No, we don’t (and I’m sure there’s some of you who don’t want to know what Conor thinks about those issues, either).
My thoughts on the record and the story behind the making of the album are online here. Quite simply, this is the best Digital Leather record since Warm Brother. All Faded is available as a download or CD from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. The vinyl version doesn’t come out until this fall, but you can order it now from the label right here.
Sonically and lyrically, these two records couldn’t be more different, and yet they have one thing in common: You can understand every word of every lyric sung on both records.
It seems like a little thing — like a basic thing — but the majority of indie rock records these days sport vocals that are nothing more than indecipherable nuanced tone poems. To a lot of music fans, the words don’t matter, and that’s fine. They’re in it for the energy or the noise or the attitude, or in the case of “vibe” music or next-gen shoegaze, it’s all about the mood, the chord progressions, the drone. Fine.
But I’m at the point where if I can’t understand what the singer’s singing I blank out on the song. Maybe it’s a throwback attitude, or the fact that I grew up on songs that forced you to sing along. These days, there’s not much on Sirius XM (the only “radio” station I listen to that plays new music) that’s begs you to join in. Both of these records do. Go buy them.
Tomorrow is another big music release day with new records from Digital Leather and Desaparecidos scheduled to drop.
Desaparecidos, Payola (2015, Epitaph)
In anticipation of the Desa release, Pitchfork reviewed their new album, Payola, today giving it a righteous 7.6 rating that tops the massively long, strange, wandering write-up by chief critic Ian Cohen. I think Cohen liked it, though the only out-and-out compliment was: “But Payola advocates chaining yourself to an ATM, taking a baseball bat to a limousine, and shouting every word at the nearest authority figure. And this makes Conor Oberst a writer of awesome punk rock lyrics,” which I’m not entirely sure was written with a straight face.
Cohen tracks through the album with cryptic nods for each track. His most accurate observation: “...a topical record that’s been cobbled together over the span of five years is going to sound dated in a 24-hour news cycle. It’s not just the references to Occupy or the NSA’s Fairview surveillance system or flashmobs, though those tend to jut out like 2012 RT’s on your timeline.” So true.
While he was busy trying to decipher the meaning of every song he forgot to notice that the record out-and-out rocks. For my money, it’s better than Read Music/Speak Spanish, though the new record’s message isn’t as forward-looking as much as reflective. Cohen’s most damning comment was a left-handed compliment: “It would appear that Payola is where Oberst’s been storing the splenetic rage that fueled his most compelling work and has mostly gone missing since I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.” Oh snap!
Consequences of Sound gave Payola a B+, saying: “Few bands can return after a 13-year absence and sound vital and fresh, transforming an old-school approach into a process that sounds original. That’s precisely what Desaparecidos have done, making Payola a welcome comeback surprise.”
The Guardian gave the record 3 out of 5 stars and called it “middling” in the headline, concluding “They’re not exactly pushing things forward, but for anyone who wants to take a trip back to when MTV2’s Gonzo was a must-watch, Payola will pave the way.”
Drowned in Sound gave it an 8 out of 10, saying: “There aren’t many bands that would detail a song with the fantasies of a teenage gun obsessive, relate to a radicalised youth or launch a scathing attack on the Fairview Surveillance Programme. That Desaparecidos accomplish these things in the form of such frequently brilliant, perceptive tunes is laudable.”
DIY gave the record 4 out of 5 stars and said “Even Oberst’s accepting shout of “We’re doomed!” towards the end of ‘The Left Is Right’ is less doom-and-gloom and more hopeful. This is an album designed to move people, and ‘Payola’ manages to do so in so very many ways.”
And finally, the old standard All Music gave the record 4 out of 5 stars, concluding: “Politically charged punk rock can be an exhausting and overtly self-righteous affair in the wrong hands, but Oberst and company temper their outrage with unadulterated melodic might, resulting in that rare protest album that rewards both the condemners and the condemned.”
Metacritic currently has it in the green at 74. Impressive.
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Speaking of Desaparecidos, Desa keyboardist Ian McElroy’s other project, Rig 1, performs tonight at Pageturners. Opening is High Up, a band that features Christine and Orenda Fink, Greg Elsasser, Josh Soto, Eric Ohlsson and Jason Biggers. The band is “endorsed by the Gifford park Neighborhood Association,” according to their Facebook page. Can’t beat that. 9 p.m. and Free.
Also tonight, Delta Spirit and Friends plays at The Waiting Room. “Friends” could include members of Deer Tick, Dr. Dog and The Walkmen, who have been confirmed for the tour, according to the listing on the One Percent Productions website. $20, 9 p.m.
Esteemed Lincoln critic L. Kent Wolgamott weighs in on the new EP by Domestica — titled Domestica 3 — in Ground Zero, giving it a solid “A” rating and saying the EP is “a recording on which Domestica takes an impressive step forward while rocking as hard as ever.” Read the entire review here.
Little more can I add except a brief history lesson. Before Domestica there was Mercy Rule, a band I fell in love with way back in 1993 with the release of God Protects Fools by local label Caulfield Records. Relativity put out Providence in 1994 and the band was back on Caulfield for the seminal album, Flat Black Chronicles, in 1998. The story behind that record is documented at Lazy-i right here and continues to stand as a lesson for bands even in these days of digital streaming (because despite the technology, crappy record labels continue to exist).
Some might say Domestica is merely Mercy Rule with a different drummer — Pawl Tisdale (Sideshow) replacing Ron Albertson. Certainly the power and the fury are the same. But some would be wrong, because Domestica — both lyrically and musically — feels more thought-out, more mature, more realized. The songs still have a huge, anthemic quality, but the arrangements are tighter, the riffs grittier and the entire package is more compact and streamlined.
Domestica, Domestica 3 (Tremulant, 2015)
Opening track “What of Me” is the EP’s high water mark, with co-front-person Heidi Ore at her howlin’ best, breaking your heart when the song drops and she sings “What of me / said the sorrow / said the anger / and the pain” before blowing the whole goddamn thing up all over again. It’s frickin’ fantastic, but I wonder where a song like this fits into today’s music world, where weirdo psychedelia is the norm. What will the kids think of this track, of this album?
In the context of modern rock, Domestica is as relevant as any other ’90s act such as Superchunk or even Desaparecidos, which is experiencing a bit of a resurgence with their new album, which comes out next Tuesday. If ’90s indie punk is indeed coming back in style, Domestica could stand at the forefront of the revival.
The other big news with Domestica 3 (which L Kent led with) is the addition of Jon Taylor on vocals. Jon sings leads on half the songs, including the blazing “More” and the clap-powered album closer “Got It Right.” He surprises with a strong, slightly nasal voice that reminded me of John Linnell of They Might be Giants. Heidi completes the overall picture with her sharp, soaring harmonies. Massive indeed.
Released by Tremulant Records, you can find Domestica 3 at CD Baby (here) and of course on iTunes and Amazon.com (here) for a mere $5.94. You can also find it at tonight’s album release show, being held among the fermenting tanks at Ploughshare Brewing Co., 1630 P Street in Lincoln. Opening is Dirty Talker (members of Her Flyaway Manner). Show starts at 8 and is absolutely free. More info here.
Meanwhile, back here in Omaha, Bloodcow headlines a show at fabulous O’Leaver’s with American Wasted and Mint Wad Wally. No, this is not the album release show for Bloodcow’s Crystals & Lasers. That doesn’t happen until mid-July. Still, you’ll probably hear plenty from the new album tonight. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday night Millions of Boys headlines a show at Sweatshop Gallery with Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Lincoln’s Once a Pawn and Big Slur. $7, 9 p.m.
Also Saturday night, FITNESS #000008 comes to The Brothers Lounge. Featured bands are Ruby Block, Forest Television, Chalant and Grottos. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday it’s back to O’Leaver’s for the return of Big Harp. Opening is Ted Stevens Unknown Project (although the show listing says “maybe”). $5, 9:30 p.m.
That’s what I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.
On this Throwback Thursday, here’s another tumble into the past via a live review of three brand new bands on the scene… in 2003. BTW, is this the first documented use of the term “kill” in a live music review?
Live review: Criteria, Statistics, Tilly and the Wall — a night of pop– June 15, 2003
This was probably my favorite overall show of the year thus far, because each band complimented the other with its unique take on pop. For one night, melody reigned at the Sokol Underground with three unabashed lovers of pure rock smiling from the stage.
Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground June 14, 2003.
The show started later than normal at around 10:15, I’m told because they expected the sets to be short — these are three brand new bands here with a limited repertoire. Tilly and the Wall took the stage like a team of waiters at Grisanti’s making their way to a table to do a “happy birthday” chant — clapping and stomping their feet as they hopped into position.
Tilly is three girls (two of whom were in Magic Kiss) and two guys on guitar and keyboard. The drums were replaced with Jamie Williams’ tap shoes and plenty of hand claps, absolutely appropriate for these happy, peppy, fun-loving acoustic songs sung mainly by the women, with the guitarist adding some vocals here and there. Imagine Park Ave. mixed with an upbeat Azure Ray and you begin to get the picture. It was fun, and cute… maybe a bit too cute toward the end, but hey, everyone was having a good time.
I made this statement last night and I stand by it this morning with the fog of alcohol firmly lifted from my judgment: Tap-dancing will sweep the nation and UK as the primary form of rock percussion by this time next year. Who can deny its infectious nature and pure staging value? Williams’ feet cut through the noise crisply, thanks to what appeared to be a microphoned plywood amplification box. The downside (for Williams) is that there’s no way she’ll be able to do that on any sort of sizable tour, especially if their set ever grows beyond its current 20 minutes. She looked bushed by the end of the second song, and who can blame her?
Statistics at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.
Statistics, headed by Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos (I didn’t recognize the rest of the trio on drums and bass). The band played songs off their soon-to-be-released Jade Tree EP and they sounded pretty good, though Denver’s vocals were a wee bit off. Part of it was that his mic wasn’t turned up enough. But most of it was his uncertainty on stage. Watching from the side, Dalley seem a bit hesitant to belt out the vocals and as a result, they were thin and slightly off pitch. Chock it up to stage rust — his tour only just began a few days ago. I suspect as he gets more comfortable on stage and listens to the playback he’ll either get more confident. Musically, the compositions are as first-rate as they are on the CD, but more guitar- than electronically-driven. I liked the tone, and the girls seemed to like looking at Denver. Someone yelled “Take off your clothes!” from the audience. Denver shielded his eyes, gazing out through the crowd, and said, “Mom? Are you out there?” Funny.
Then Criteria came on and killed everyone.
Criteria at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.
With this performance, they immediately put themselves on top of the list as one of the best Omaha/Lincoln bands for pure-energy post-punk. Stephen Pedersen has surrounded himself with some amazing musicians, not the least of which is AJ Mogis on bass and backing vocals. Mogis, with his receding hairline, glasses and beard looked like a radio DJ or a ’70s-era Walter Becker standing next to the suave Pedersen all covered with sweat like a young Rock Hudson. Pedersen is a phenomenal guitarist, but second guitarist Aaron Druery is just as remarkable. Drummer Mike Sweeney topped it off with pounding precision — he would give even Clint Schnase a run for his money. The comparison is apt when you consider that Criteria’s music is clearly an off-shoot of early Cursive, right down to Pedersen’s Kasher-like vocals.
With such a prof line-up, the band is amazingly tight, and lord knows they have to be considering the intricacy of their music — time changes, syncopation and massive breaks abound. Beneath it all are some of the most hummable post-punk melodies you will hear from anyone in the business these days. Pedersen looked elated to be on stage again, and the whole band glowed with an energy akin to pride. They performed every song off their Initial Records’ debut, En garde, and what I believe was an early Cursive song — I’m bad with song titles. It was introduced by Pedersen saying, “This next one will show our age.”
The irony of Criteria is that there are no plans for them to play again in the near future. Pedersen told me during our interview that only this Sokol date had been set up — they hadn’t even lined up a Lincoln gig yet (though he acknowledged he’d like to do a show there, but didn’t know where or how). There are no plans to tour, though he’ll continue to play local shows. He said the band hopes to hit the road sometime this summer, when Pedersen can take some vacation time from his attorney gig. It’s a shame because this band is ready right now and would conquer any tour they could line up. They would be a sure crowd-pleaser on a Cursive tour — something that probably won’t be happening too soon as I’ve heard Cursive will take some time off when they finish this tour so Kasher can get to work writing the next Good Life CD. It could be a long time until out-of-towners get a glimpse of Criteria.
As for the crowd, it was a regular Who’s Who of the Omaha indie scene. Among the 300 on hand were most of the members of Bright Eyes (including Oberst), most of the members of The Faint, Azure Ray, half the Saddle Creek office staff, members of The Carsinogents, Little Brazil, Fizzle Like a Flood, The Movies, Bliss Repair, The Mariannes, Oil, and maybe most astounding of all, local legend Dave Sink, operator of The Antiquarium record store, who rarely attends shows these days. The last time was a Monroes show a month ago, before that, maybe two years since I’d seen him in a club.–June 15, 2003
Dave, we all miss you.
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Welp, good ol’ Conor Oberst returns to The Waiting Room tonight. Conor’s out supporting his most recent solo album, Upside Down Mountain (2014, Nonesuch). Alas, the show is sold out. And if you didn’t get tickets in time, you’re not alone. I also didn’t get tix in time. We snooze, we lose. Opening is The Felice Brothers. Starts at 9 p.m.
Also tonight, Oklahoma indie band Deerpeople plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s along with Lincoln’s Universe Contest and headliner Lightning Bug. $5, 9:30 p.m.