Digital Leather at The Sydney, Dec. 3, 2011.

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 weekly alternative newspaper.



What’s 15 Passenger (and what’s it mean for Saddle Creek)? New Kasher music; Dave Dondero, The Morbs, Red Cities tonight; Worried Mothers Saturday; Cold Cave CANCELLED…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm January 13, 2017

Tim Kasher presumably celebrating both a new album and a new label, 15 Passenger Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The internet exploded yesterday afternoon with news that Cursive has launched its own record label called 15 Passenger Records, which I assume is a romantic nod to the Ford Transit Wagon passenger van. Actually, that only hauls 12 passengers. The only 15-passenger vehicle I know if is a short bus.

Anyway, according to the website, 15 Passenger is “the new INgrooves-distributed label founded and run by the members of Cursive: Tim Kasher, bassist Matt Maginn, and guitarist/vocalist Ted Stevens. In addition to ‘No Resolution’ this winter, the label plans to reissue Cursive’s entire catalog beginning with their 1997 debut LP ‘Such Blinding Stars For Starving Eyes’ and their 1998 LP ‘The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song’ in fall of 2017.

Let’s start with INgrooves. It’s a multinational conglomerate that offers “a full suite of distribution, marketing and technology services to help independent labels and content owners manage their music with delivery to more than 600 destinations in over 200 territories worldwide.” It’s also “artist and label services” and “rights management.” INgrooves releases include the latest from Jimmy Buffett, Joe Bonamassa, Home Sandoval, Esme Patterson, Violet Sands, and more.

No Resolution is the name of Tim Kasher’s third solo album, slated for release March 3 on 15 Passenger, which you can pre-order right now from the 15 Passenger Bandcamp store in splatter blue vinyl and CD format. The first track off the album, “An Answer for Everything,” is below:

With this news, a few questions come to mind: Will 15 Passenger also be releasing The Good Life’s back catalog as well as recordings from past Ted Stevens’ projects? How about new music from other bands, just like a regular label? Do Saddle Creek Records bands control the rights to their back catalog for these kinds of releases or did Cursive purchase those rights from Saddle Creek? And what happens to those Cursive back catalog listings on the Saddle Creek Records website?

And the biggest question of all: What does this mean for Saddle Creek Records in general? One assumes a label like Saddle Creek floats its boat on revenue generated from back catalogue sales. Cursive has to be one of the label’s biggest sellers. Given Saddle Creek’s history of one-record deals, does this mean the next Cursive record will be coming out on 15 Passenger? Stay tuned…

* * *

It’s another relatively big weekend of mainly local shows.

One of the bigger offerings is happening tonight at Almost Music in the Blackstone District. Sunbrain frontman Dave Dondero headlines a show that includes Simon Joyner and David Nance. $7, 8 p.m. I suggest buying a growler of beer over at Scriptown and bring it over, then drink it hillbilly-style. Brad won’t mind.

Just a stone’s throw away, The Brothers Lounge is hosting Lincoln band The Morbs tonight. Opening is new Omaha riot grrrl act Boner Killerz (the winner of the “best new band name” award) and Those Far Out Arrows. $5, 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Lincoln garage rock band Red Cities headlines tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Also on the bill are The Broke Loose and Half Wit. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday), Worried Mothers returns to O’Leaver’s with Total Voltage and Chalant. $5, 9:30 p.m.

CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHERAnd then Sunday night, LA dark wave band Cold Cave plays at The Waiting Room with Drab Majesty and Lincoln leather geek dance sensation Plack Blague. $12 Adv/$15 DOS. Starts at 9.

That’s all I got. If I forgot your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend, and don’t get caught in the ice.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Vinyl drove Homer’s sales increases in 2016; Closeness new EP on Graveface 2/24…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:40 pm January 12, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt sent out his annual sales letter to the media a few days ago, and it’s good news: Homer’s business was up 4.5 percent in 2016.

“Vinyl drove the increase, though lifestyle helped,” Fratt said, referencing so-called lifestyle products — i.e., non-recorded products (i.e., trinkets).

Vinyl sales boomed by a robust 18 percent, and new vinyl sales overtook new CD sales in gross dollars. That’s because vinyl costs about $25 per unit, while CDs cost on average around $11.  In fact, CD sales slumped 2 percent last year at Homer’s partially due to retail price declines, Fratt said. Overall CD unit sales were basically flat, off by only 110 units.

“But unit sales in new CDs were were well over two times that of new vinyl,” Fratt said.

Despite that impressive 4.5 percent year-over-year business increase, Fratt says Homer’s has no plans for expansion in 2017. “Running one great store matters more than a handful of average stores,” he said.

Fratt also had some thoughts on my “vision of 2017” that said vinyl sales will plateau in 2017 nationally. He said that peak won’t be reached until 2019 or 2020.

“While the increase (in vinyl sales) is not as great as the last couple years, it’s still significant,” Fratt said. “Add the fact that boomers are now digging out their turntables and playing records again. It’s really quite stunning how wide the demographic is buying vinyl now. So lots of gas still in the tank on vinyl.”

And, Fratt added, Homer’s sold 150 8-track tapes in 2016. Somehow I can’t see that medium making a return.

Top vinyl sellers for Homer’s in 2016: Twenty One Pilots: Vessel and Blurryface; David Bowie, Blackstar; Adele, 25; Radiohead, Moon Shaped Pool; and Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Top CD sellers for Homer’s: Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface; Rolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome; Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby; Chris Stapleton, Traveller; Kevin Gates, Islah; and David Bowie, Blackstar.

* * *

Todd and Orenda Fink as seen in negativeland…

Closeness, the dreamy electronic duo of Orenda and Todd Fink, will release their debut EP, Personality Therapy, Feb. 24 on Graveface Records. The Savannah label counts Xiu, Xiu, Whirr, Dosh, The Appleseed Cast and Black Moth Super Rainbow among its roster.

Check out the first single below. BTW, the Finks will be performing at SXSW this year….

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Saddle Creek Records sells Ink Tank Merch; and the winner is…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:49 pm January 10, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It was nearly 10 years ago when I reported here in Lazy-i that Ink Tank Merch was open for business. The new  Saddle Creek Records subsidiary, operated by Chris Esterbrooks, screen printed T-shirts and other items for touring bands, including Saddle Creek acts. Esterbrooks came to Ink Tank after working at Impact Merchandising for four years handling their clients’ tour merch. At the time, Esterbrooks also was frontman for punk band Virgasound and was the former guitarist of the legendary Carsinogents.

From that 2007 Lazy-i article:

“Saddle Creek felt they could offer their bands a cheaper product, so why not get into the market?” Esterbrooks said from Ink Tank’s world headquarters, located in the industrial ghetto around 88th and H St. Ink Tank is little more than screen-print presses, a dryer that looks like a giant Quizno’s sandwich oven, and lots of storage. Add some computer equipment and a website (inktankmerch.com) and you’ve got yourself a start-up.

Now it looks like Esterbrooks has moved on, as Ink Tank has been purchased by Kansas City company Seen Merchandising. The following press release, which announces the change, came to my attention last week, but it was only this weekend that I was able to confirm it:

We are excited to announce that Seen Merchandising has purchased Ink Tank Merch. My name is RL Brooks and I am an owner of Seen Merchandising and now Ink Tank Merch.

Seen Merchandising is a full service screen printing shop and e-commerce distribution center located in Kansas City. We have been in business since 2009 and have over 30 years of combined experience among our leadership team. At our Kansas City location, we have a daily capacity of 20k shirts with a staff of 15 team members to support high quality, fast turn arounds with today’s most progressive inks. Working with acts such as August Burns Red, Hum, Shiner, Eric Andre, Electric Lady Studios, We are Scientists, Marian Hill, Dexter and many other amazing artists and businesses. We specialize in tour merchandising, retail-ready clothing lines and online store fulfillment

I have been a fan of Ink Tank Merch for sometime now and have become good friends with Pat Oakes, the current production manager at Ink Tank Merch. Over the years, I have felt adopted by the people and culture of Omaha and consider myself a Nebraska native son, as I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Pat and I have enjoyed several rock and roll excursions together as well as our shared love for all things screen printing. This purchase is an exciting opportunity for me and my company as we partner with Pat to bring Ink Tank Merch to even greater heights. This partnership will allow Ink Tank to grow its capacity, improve production, offer new products and services as well as provide a better overall experience. Ink Tank Merch will continue to operate under the same name in Omaha.

Pat Oakes, the production manager of Ink Tank for the past eight years, has become an owner in the business and will continue to run production at Ink Tank as well as take on operations management. Pat is committed to working with the team at Seen Merch to grow and improve Ink Tank Merch to be able to provide exceptional products and outstanding customer service…. Pat will become your primary contact at Ink Tank Merch with the full support of Seen Merch’s ownership and production staff.

LeAnn Jensen, the current art department manager, will stay with the company and continue to provide the exceptional attention to detail in preparing jobs for for production and lead the outstanding design work you have come to expect from Ink Tank.

Chris Esterbrooks is no longer with Ink Tank Merch and no longer represents Ink Tank Merch in any way.

You may have heard rumors that Ink Tank is closing. We want to assure you that this rumor is entirely false. We have the endorsement of former Ink Tank Merch owner Robb Nansel and Saddle Creek Records to continue and grow Ink Tank Merch. We will be staying open in Omaha with a strong commitment to improving and expanding the services Ink Tank offers you. All online stores will remain up and running without any interruption.

I’m told Esterbrooks is gainfully employed by another local merch/promotions company. I’m also told that Saddle Creek bands will continue to have the option to use Ink Tank, or any other merch company they wish to use, just like they’ve always had.

Why Saddle Creek sold Ink Tank remains a mystery. Believe me, I asked. Considering how merch has become more important than ever to bands as a source of income in a time when bands can’t depend (as much as they used to) on revenue from record sales, you’d think a merch company would be a valuable asset, especially to a record label. On the other hand, Saddle Creek may have seen Ink Tank’s sale as a convenient (and profitable) way of getting out of a costly operating expense they no longer needed to carry to satisfy the bands/musicians on their roster…

* * *

And the winner of this year’s drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2016 comp CD is… Joe Liebentritt! Congrats Joe. Your CD will be dropped in the mail tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who entered.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Back from CES; Visions of 2017 (and how those 2016 visions came out); last day to enter drawing…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm January 9, 2017

visions-of-2017
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well I’m back from CES in Vegas. What can I say, it was like going to a gigantic Best Buy where you couldn’t actually buy anything — actually it was more like a million-square-foot-sized Best Buy filled with thousands of people wearing laminates. I saw lots of TV sets, drones, fitness trackers, toy-like robots and geeks wearing Virtual Reality headsets.

Richard Blade at CES 2017.

Richard Blade at CES 2017.

One of my favorite moments: Getting to meet SiriusXM DJ Richard Blade, one of the voices on SiriusXM’s “1st Wave” channel. Richard, who I listen to daily, was the first thing I heard as I walked onto the CES show floor Thursday. He couldn’t have been any nicer.

My other brush with fame was a walk-by from Shaquille O’Neal as I waited in line for a convention shuttle. Transportation was a problem at CES, among other things. How CES got to be as huge as it is considering how poorly the event is managed is beyond me. It makes SXSW seem like a well-oiled machine in comparison.

If I had to make a prediction based on my week at CES, I’d say we’re five years or more from ever seeing VR being more than a curious novelty, though the music industry is going to try to leverage the tech (see below). Self-driving cars? Not anytime soon, but who really wants them?

* * *

Speaking of predictions, yesterday my annual Visions of 2017 music predictions story went online at TheReader.com. It’s also in the January printed edition. I look back at my 2016 predictions and try to wow you with my visions of the coming year. It’s one of my more popular annual articles. Check it out and see who we’ll all be talking about this time next year.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

It’s the last day to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD.

It’s a collection of my favorite indie tunes that I came across last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Car Seat Headrest, Sam Evian, Whitney, Big Thief, Father John Misty, A Tribe Called Quest, Conor Oberst, Navy Gangs, Jeff Runnings and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Entering to win a CD copy is super simple: 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. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: The Faint, Plack Blague; 2016: The Year in Music (fave releases/fave live shows); spotty reception this week…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:07 pm January 2, 2017
The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I think we’re going to start a new tradition for New Years — instead of celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when the drunks are out, with all the traffic and the unholy fireworks, we’re going to celebrate the new year the night (or the weekend) before NYE. I figure I’m going to be home on NYE at midnight anyway to shield the dogs from the war noises booming overhead, I might as well celebrate the new year before the fact. Kind of like we did this year. Now if only we could get The Faint to play a pre-NYE show every year.

The Slowdown was packed Friday night, but not too packed. In the old days, The Faint would have easily sold out two nights in a venue the size of The Slowdown. Now the best the band can do is comfortably fill a large venue two nights in a row. Let’s face it, the band’s heyday was 15 or so years ago with the breakthrough of Danse Macabre, and even back then, I remember seeing The Faint perform that album at Sokol Underground — a show that stands out as my all-time favorite Faint performance. It’s followed closely by an unannounced pre-grand-opening performance at The Waiting Room in 2007 — probably the loudest Faint show I can remember.

That same year, in June 2007, The Faint had sold out a two-night residency at Sokol Auditorium. All of those Sokol Aud shows from that decade (and the years that followed) were complete madness — hot sweaty bouncing dancing messes of humanity; absolute spectacles.

Last Friday night’s show didn’t quite reach the level of those Sokol shows, but it was a good time nonetheless. If there was a drag on the performance it came from the audience, because the band was clearly on point playing a set of greatest hits in support of their CAPSULE: 1999-2016 album that just came out on Saddle Creek. It’s easy to forget how many great songs these guys have recorded. It’s a good time to mention that the new material — three new songs released as part of the CAPSULE album — stand tall among their finest efforts, seamlessly blending into the set.

A haunting Clark Baechle behind The Faint’s drum kit….

A ghostly Clark Baechle behind The Faint’s drum kit….

The Faint’s light show has been an evolution over the years. I remember the days where they controlled colored floodlights with floor pedals, to haunting effect. These days the light show is a flashing, strobing choreographed wonder in perfect sync with every bone-rattling beat. I have no idea how it could get any better.

Maybe it was thos awe-inspiring lights or the enormity of the music but the audience on the floor seemed a bit dumbfounded. It took half a set to get their butts moving and not until the end until they got their arms in the air and bodies began to be carried over the crowd — a far cry from those old Sokol Aud days.

The band kicked off the four-song encore with a rehearsal of sorts for a surprise they intended to roll out the next evening, NYE — a cover of Prince’s “1999” — a sloppy, rowdy, slam-bam version wherein the band got lost somewhere after the second verse, which the crowd either didn’t notice or didn’t care. The whole place blew up for the last song of the encore — a celebratory version of “Glass Danse” that left them covered in sweat. There is no such thing as a bad Faint show.

Plack Blague at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

Plack Blague at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

I missed Closeness, but got to see about half of Plack Blague’s set. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced Raws on stage. The last time was at O’Leaver’s a few years ago for a set of ear-bleeding distorted noise and screaming. Last Friday night’s set was a different story — a raw, leather-clad set of electro-noise-fueled disco fronted by a bondage geek with slippery, greasy dance moves. For any other crowd, Plack Blague would be controversial if not shocking, but Faint fans have been following Raws’ path for years and expect nothing less than the most salacious performance. What a way to kick off a new year…

* *

2016yearinmusic
It wouldn’t be a new year without looking back on the old year, and as such my 2016: The Year in Music story finally went online at The Reader‘s website.

The article includes a look back at a rather rough year, a year that will be remembered more for its deaths than its music. We lost a lot of heroes in 2016, and the wounds are still very much open for a lot of us.

The article also includes my list of favorite albums as well as my favorite live shows from 2016, along with a crapload of photos. Take a look.

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

And while you’re remember 2016, you might as ell ahead and enter the drawing for a copy of Lazy-i Best of 2016 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: The Faint, Oh Pep!, Mitski, Quilt, Low, Big Thief, Father John Misty and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Entering to win a CD copy is super simple: 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. 9.

* * *

Reception at Lazy-i central will be spotty this week as I’m off to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I may or may not update the ol’ blog. I’m considering posting photos and info about cool music-related gadgets that I find on the show floor, or maybe I won’t. Best bet is to check back either way…

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

High Up video debuts, new EP on Team Love; The Faint, Closeness, Ridgelines tonight; goodbye 2016 (and good riddance)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm December 30, 2016
A screen capture from the new video for High Up tune "Two Weeks."

A screen capture from the new video for High Up tune “Two Weeks.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looks like the fine folks in High Up have been plenty busy. Today Elle magazine debuted the new video for the song “Two Weeks,” deeming it one of the “10 Best New Songs to Listen to in January.” I guess someone forgot to tell the editors that the song came out two years ago. But the video, directed by Harrison Martin, is brand new and features a lot of local heroes. See how many you recognize.

The other bit of news from this video release is that High Up is now working with Team Love Records, who is releasing the band’s EP Jan. 20. What other High Up music will Team Love be releasing?  This could be the beginning of something big…

* *

You’ve made it to the NYE weekend.

The big show tonight is at The Slowdown where The Faint takes the stage. As of this writing, tickets were still available from The Slowdown website. Who knows how long they’ll last. Opening is Closeness (featuring Todd and Orenda Fink) and Lincoln noise-beast Plack Blague. This is a 9 p.m. show. If you intend to see Closeness, you better get in line early (doors open at 8). My past experience at Slowdown is that they start the shows at the stroke of 9 p.m. regardless of the monstrous line of people waiting to get in. Tix are $25.

The Faint play Slowdown again tomorrow night for Happy Goo Year X, which I assume will feature Goo DJ sets in addition to a Faint performance. Tix to that one are $40 today, $50 tomorrow.

Back to what’s happening tonight…

Ridgelines is hosting a show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s that will also feature The Sunks and hip-hop act Both. Ridgelines, which is an electronic/ambient project by Mike Johnson, will be celebrating the release of their new album The Scarlet Ibis: a soundtrack by ridgelines tonight as well. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Milk Run has Club Nothing (Anna Sun), Twin Reflex and Inflatable Egg. $3, 9 p.m.

Which brings us to New Year’s Eve… NYE is a night dedicated to DJs and cover bands — not a night to see original music (let alone indie music). I shall spend mine at Alamo Draft House and will be home in time to protect my poor hounds from the annual firework onslaught, which has become worse than the 4th of July.

On many fronts, 2016 has been a pretty lousy year, but with the New Year brings new hope for a better tomorrow *puke*. Here’s hoping yours is better than ever.

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

But before we leave 2016 behind, why not remember it one last time with the Lazy-i Best of 2016 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: Conor Oberst, Maria Taylor, Jeffrey Lewis, Navy Gangs, Jeff Runnings, Pet Shop Boys and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Entering to win a CD copy is super simple: 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. 9.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: 2006 Year in Review; Wrong Pets, Legal Creep (Javid/Steve Micek Explosion), La Casa Bombas, Josh Hoyer tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 29, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we step into the Wayback Machine, a head’s up about tonight’s musical events.

Wrong Pets returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Wrong Pets is a new band fronted by Reagan Roeder with Landon Hedges (bass), Danny Maxwell (guitar) and Ryan Haas on drums. It’s some heavy shit. That alone is worth $5, but in addition, tonight also marks the reunion of La Casa Bombas, who haven’t played  together since Kit Carson moved to LA, and the debut of Legal Creep, the drumming duo of Javid Dabestani (Lupines, ex-Bright Calm Blue) and Steve Micek (ex-The Stay Awake, The Mariannes, Real Time Optimists). $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Josh Hoyer continues his Omaha outreach. He and his band played O’Leaver’s a week or so ago. Tonight they play at Reverb Lounge with Stonebelly. $8, 9 pm.

Now, back to our Throwback Thursday special. In the coming days, The Reader will be posting my annual Year in Review and Predictions articles. Until then, let’s step into the past and read my Year in Review from a decade ago — 2006. It was a different time. Saddle Creek was flying about as high as it ever would. Slowdown and The Waiting Room were merely twinkles in their founders’ eyes. It all doesn’t seem that long ago…

From Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006…

Those Awkward, In-between Years
2006: The Year in Music

Lazy-i Best of 2006

Lazy-i Best of 2006

I got plenty of shit last year for saying in these pages that indie music peaked in ’05. Looking back at ’06, tell me I was wrong.

Sure, there were plenty of new indie records and rock shows down at Sokol, but did anything from this past year really stand out? Contemplating this article, I wracked my brains for a theme for ’06, but only came up with this truth: 2006 was a year that indie music — both locally and nationally — was in a holding pattern.

There were no new trends, no standout acts, and maybe no place left to go. No, I don’t think indie has run its course, but I do think that we’re all getting tired of the same old mopey jangle-rock, the wonky 10-piece chamber-pop ensembles, and the endless reinvention of Gang of Four-inspired post-punk. If there was a trend in indie, it was toward the odd. Joanna Newsom, that harpist with the voice of Lisa Simpson, was lauded by indie music scribes as the artist of the year (I’ve yet to be able to make it through her new disc, Ys, in one sitting). Then there were the gypsy folk acts like DeVotchka and Beirut, and kitschy chamber pop bands like Decemberist that seemed to make a name for themselves based on their sheer idiosyncrasy. It’s all about being peculiar these days.

It’s not like we heard anything earth-shaking on the radio, either. Look, I like that Gnarls Barkley song as much as the next guy, but “Crazy” was hardly the ground-breaking single that “Hey Ya!” was for Outkast. The rest of the Billboard charts were dominated with the usual gang of hip-hop-sters, illiterate goon-rock bands and tuneless, silicone-powered divas. Can music get any worse?

We’re living in a state of inertia. That certainly was the case for Saddle Creek Records. For the label at the epicenter of Omaha’s indie music scene, 2006 will be remembered as an off year. This despite having signed three new acts — local heavy-punk rockers Ladyfinger (NE), Crooked Fingers singer-songwriter Eric Bachmann, and hippy folk rockers Neva Dinova, who (probably) won’t release their Creek debut until next May.

Meanwhile, one of the label’s holy triumvirate, Cursive, made perhaps the best records of its career. Released in August, Happy Hollow also is the label’s most significant creative achievement in ’06. But despite having sold more than 27,000 copies, it wasn’t its biggest seller. That honor goes to Bright Eyes’ 2005 release I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, which sold more than 47,000 copies, bringing its grand total to over 380,000. Is there a Gold Record in Conor Oberst’s future? Ironically, the biggest-selling Creek-related release was Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins’ Rabbit Fur Coat, which actually came out on Oberst’s Team Love label. Since its January release, Rabbit Fur Coat has sold a remarkable 97,000 copies, according to Saddle Creek executive Jason Kulbel.

Creek only had seven releases in ’06 — a quiet year by record label standards. But that didn’t mean the label was sitting on its hands. After months of waiting, the iron finally arrived at the site of Slowdown, Saddle Creek’s long-planned, multi-purpose complex just north of downtown Omaha. Construction began on the multi-million dollar office/music hall/bar/movie theater/condo project in September with plans for a grand opening in summer ’07 — a year after its original target date.

Meanwhile, Presto! Studios — where most Saddle Creek artists record — bid adieu to Lincoln last summer. The Mogis Brothers are currently building a new studio in tony Fairacres, right next to a mansion purchased by Saddle Creek superstar Conor Oberst. As a sort of homecoming celebration, Bright Eyes performed a bone-drenching concert in Memorial Park June 17 that inspired the editors of The World-Herald to declare Omaha “fun city” (the saps!).

So, yeah, 2006 probably will be remembered as a limbo year for the Omaha indie music scene. But with Slowdown opening and new releases by Bright Eyes and The Faint, ’07 could mark a turning point for Omaha and Saddle Creek Records.

But before we look into the future, let’s look back one more time. Here’s the list of my 10 favorite releases of ’06 (in alphabetical order):

Eric Bachmann,To the Races (Saddle Creek) — Bachmann’s sweet indie lullabies mask stories of death and loss, all-too-often sung in a voice that Neil Diamond would happily kill Rick Rubin for.

Beck,The Information (Interscope) — His best effort since Mellow Gold. ‘Nuff said.

Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) — The retro upbeat dance record drew heavily from Bowie and T. Rex. I hated it at first, but it grew on me (like a fungus).

Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador) — The first album from Chan Marshall that I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end — the most heartfelt and tuneful songs of her career.

Cursive, Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek) — It stands alongside Domestica as the band’s career-setting high-water mark. A pop, punk, drunk, funk achievement.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) — A twangy rock marvel, the best thing Lewis has produced since The Execution of All Things back in ’02.

Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men, Skeleton Blues (Jagjaguwar) — Standing alongside a solid band, Joyner has finally released his inner-rock star, emerging cautious and slightly broken in a cloak originally tailored for the likes of Dylan.

The Terminals, Forget About Never (Dead Beat) — With producer Andy Caffrey, the band reinvented its hep-cat-cool retro garage punk into blown-out, raw mayhem. Turn it up.

Two Gallants, What the Toll Tells (Saddle Creek) — Though a little of these hippy ship-galley sea-shanty balladeers goes a long way, I now see why they appealed to the sexy young execs at Saddle Creek.

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) — The latest in a series of intimate rock head-trips, almost indefinable in its scope, which ranges from 10-minute acid-rock jams to ethereal early morning acoustic walks in a forest to cow-bell driven, falsetto-sung dance-rock rave-ups.

Venues, for the most part, remained status quo last year, with a couple new players added to the mix. Sokol Underground and Auditorium continued to have a stranglehold on all things indie, as they have for the past three or four years, thanks to One Percent Productions. Little ol’ O’Leaver’s also kept its rep as the small venue that hosts some of the best shows, while Mick’s remains Omaha’s keynote location for acoustic (or electric) folk. The only venue to really fade in ’06 was The 49’r, which hosted fewer shows than ever, probably because they pack the place just fine without live music.

Two new venues for live music also made their mark last year. With shows by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins and Gillian Welch, The Scottish Rite Hall on 202 So. 20th St. was rediscovered as a hidden gem in downtown. It could become Omaha’s version of Lawrence’s Liberty Hall. The other notable new player was The Saddle Creek Bar at 1410 No. Saddle Creek Rd. Around for literally decades only to reopen last summer, the venue’s old-home atmosphere, weird stage and exceptional location could place it on top of the list for live music venues. Its future, however, depends on solid booking.

With Slowdown opening next summer and a couple new bars in the works, Omaha could actually suffer from a glut of live venues — and not enough quality bands to fill the stages. That’s a good problem to have (as long as new talent actually emerges). So what were my favorite shows of ’06? Here’s the rundown:

Simon Joyner and the Wind-Up Birds, Jan. 27, O’Leaver’s — Joyner and his band unveiled the sound that would become Skeleton Blues and hit the proverbial sweet-spot where melody and dissonance meet to form a beautiful, soulful noise that burns going down.

Cursive, Feb. 8, O’Leaver’s — A “secret show” where Cursive unveiled the sound that would become Happy Hollow. Their big-shouldered strut felt more relaxed and, quite frankly, funner than the usual furrowed-brow Cursive stuff.

Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins, March 11, The Scottish Rite Hall — A warm set in one of the city’s warmest venues, Lewis showed that she’s bound to become the biggest act on Oberst’s Team Love label (besides Bright Eyes, of course), and could spur a C&W revival among the indie set. God help us all.

Ladyfinger, March 18, Sokol Underground — The irony: They seem like nice guys, but their music is some dark shit, black and negative, psycho angry, rattling around loud and scary like a box of smoking chainsaws. Did I mention how loud it was?

NOMO, June 8, O’Leaver’s — To say it was celebratory would be an understatement. O’Leaver’s glowed. The seven-piece afro-beat ensemble closed the night by parading through the bar, ending in a chanting circle right in front of the bar.

Bright Eyes, June 17, Memorial Park — Oberst never sounded better performing in front of a park filled with a few thousand of his new neighbors. Halfway through the show, the sky opened and the rain came. In buckets. But throughout the maelstrom, thousands refused to leave, both young and old. Talk about your acid test in the park.

Thor, Sept. 10, The Saddle Creek Bar — Donning a huge black (plastic) chest plate and a series of gruesome rubber masks, Thor had the crowd in the palm of his mighty fist, proudly belting out one heavy metal ditty after another. It was like being back at Fat Jacks circa 1985.

Yo La Tengo, Oct. 8, Sokol Underground — Two hours, three encores, selections from throughout their catalog, their style was all over the board, from raging indie jams to urban, falsetto R&B to quiet, acoustic ballads. Show of the year.

Twilight Singers, Oct. 30, Sokol Underground — The highlight: Mark Lanegan entering from back stage looking like a cross between a straight-haired, goateed Will Ferrell and Frankenstein, striking a pose with one hand on the microphone, the other firmly grasping the mic stand, eyes clamped closed, barely moving. Scary.

The Who, Dec. 7, The Qwest Center — Memorable, despite a hoarse Roger Daltrey. After 90 minutes of music, the encore included a medley of songs from Tommy, Daltrey gasping to get through “Pinball Wizard,” while Townshend shined on a raucous version of “Underture” that was the night’s highlight. — Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006

Still feeling nostalgic? If you have Spotify, you can now hear the Lazy-i Best of 2006 playlist right here (minus songs by The Terminals and Prince, which ain’t in Spotify)….

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

David Nance makes Cosloy’s list; Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover 6 lineup; Bib, Conny Franko, Bien Fang tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:29 pm December 28, 2016
Bien Fang at O'Leaver's March 4, 2016. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Bien Fang at O’Leaver’s March 4, 2016. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Among the year-end lists (or list of lists) I pay attention to is the annual Matador Records’ “Orgy of Self Congratulations,” wherein Matador artists and associates lay out what music and performances were their favorites in the past year. Matador co-founder Gerard Cosloy always ends the blog with his lists, and among his favorite recordings in 2016 was David Nance’s More Than Enough (Badabing Records). Is it a big deal? Probably not, but it is to me because I’ve always respected Cosloy’s taste in music, back to his days at Homestead Records. Check out Cosloy’s full list (and the rest of Matadors’ listings) right here.

By the way Big Thief, Saddle Creek’s biggest roster addition, also made it onto three other Matador folks’ lists. Big Thief has had a big year. Someone needs to bring them back to Omaha…

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Speaking of David Nance, Hear Nebraska announced the line-up of its 6th Annual Take Cover concert at The Waiting Room Jan. 28. This is a fundraiser where performers cover a song by another Nebraska artist and play one of their own songs to boot.

Among the participants this time is the aforementioned David Nance. Other standout acts include See Through Dresses, Mint Wad Willy and Thick Paint. More info and full line-up here.

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Nebraska band Bib has captured its share of national attention this year. Noisey did a Q&A with the band upon the release of their demos 7-inch and 5-song EP Pop on Deranged Records and ETT in Europe. They also received a brief write-up in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll; and, of course, hit the road on tour. And they’re capping off the year with a gig at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight.

Conny Franko, who’s had a pretty good 2016 in his own right, also is on the bill along with the super-talented Jim Schroeder (UUVVWWZ). Subtropics headline. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Lincoln’s Bien Fang (self-proclaimed grunge-pop band featuring Rachel Tomlinson Dick, Nathaniel Luginbill and Katherine Courtney Morrow) opens for Hottman Sisters at The Waiting Room. Scott Nohrenberg kicks things off at 8. $7.

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Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Finally, if you missed it yesterday (and many of you did), enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2016 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: Car Seat Heardrest, Sam Evian, Whitney, Big Thief, Father John Misty, A Tribe Called Quest and lots more. The full track listing is here. Entering to win a copy couldn’t be easier, 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. 9.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD (and giveaway!)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:39 pm December 27, 2016
Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD.

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s the last week of the year, and that means the onslaught of year-end articles and lists. My favorite list of all is the track list for the annual Lazy-i Best of… compilation CD, now in its 22nd year. The collection is my favorite tracks from 2016 pressed on CDR for friends and family…and YOU.

Want a copy? Enter the drawing! 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 (if you use social media, I’ll reach out later for your mailing address). Hurry, contest deadline is next Monday, Jan. 2, at midnight.

Here’s the track listing:

1. Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales — Car Seat Headrest
2. Sleep Easy — Sam Evian
3. No Matter Where We Go — Whitney
4. Paul — Big Thief
5. Real Love Baby — Father John Misty
6. The Space Program — A Tribe Called Quest
7. A Little Uncanny — Conor Oberst
8. If Only — Maria Taylor
9. Outta Town — Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts
10. Mondays — Navy Gangs
11. Premium — Jeff Runnings
12. The Pop Kids — Pet Shop Boys
13. Crazy Feels — Oh Pep!
14. Young & Realistic — The Faint
15. The Best America Girl — Mitski
16. Own Ways — Quilt
17. Some Hearts (at Christmas Time) — Low

Like I said, this is the 22nd year for this annual comp. I began recording it on cassette tapes and switched over to CDs in 1999. Technology is creeping up on me. I’ve had people tell me to “just make it a Spotify playlist.” In fact, I started doing that a year ago. Simply search “Lazy-i” in Spotify for the playlist. All the songs are there except the Maria Taylor track, which isn’t on Spotify yet.

Even so, I still make these CD packages because… tradition. Nobody’s sent one back yet. One problem is that my CDRs seem to skip on cheap CD players. If you received one of these CDs and it skips, try rubbing it on your pants. Or get a better CD player. Or listen to the Spotify playlist.

No doubt my year-end lists are reflected in this CD track list, but you’ll just have to wait until next week to find out how closely, as that’s when the January issue of The Reader comes out…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: SERIAL; Icky Blossoms, Closeness, Nathan Ma & the Rosettes tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:12 pm December 26, 2016
SERIAL at The Brothers Lounge, Dec. 23, 2016.

SERIAL at The Brothers Lounge, Dec. 23, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Late Friday night at The Brothers. Someone pointed out that those overhead PA speakers were mounted on their ceiling a long time ago, evidence of how the bar has kind of transformed into an occasional music venue this year (though it’s still a punk bar at heart). The pseudo drum riser in the back corner I’d noticed before. On Friday night it held Tim Moss, who I’d forgotten was  pretty good drummer in addition to being the frontman of Omaha golden age punk band Ritual Device.

SERIAL is a sort of super group of golden age punk rockers, heroes of the ’90s who get together while in town for the holidays to play some covers. John Wolf, of Cellophane Ceiling fame, played guitars and did vocals. So did Lee Meyerpeter of Cactus Nerve Thang and modern-day act Filter Kings. And there was Jerry Hug on bass, a lawyer by profession, a rocker by reputation, at least the rep he has among folks at The Brothers.

I only watched the first set, which included covers of songs by Nugent, the Stones, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, one of my favorites by Pavement (“Two States) and Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.” As Wolf said, they were SERIAL, killing one classic at a time.

Moss’s wife, Clementine, took over the drum kit, allowing the bearded wonder to growl a couple numbers himself, including a punked-up version of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” and a gruff cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds” that featured a young lady with dreads who crushed the guitar solo. I split when the band took its first break. Great stuff on a late Friday night before Christmas…

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The holidays continue with tonight’s show at The Waiting Room. Icky Blossoms headlines a strong four-band bill that includes Closeness, Nathan Ma & the Rosettes and Cult Play. This is sort of a reunion show for Icky Blossoms, though Derek, Nik and Sarah haven’t gone anywhere. Rumor has it they’re working on new material for 2017. $10, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i