Portugal. The Man tonight; news bits (Capgun, Techlepathy, Meat Puppets); Column 233 retake…

Category: Blog — @ 6:20 pm August 12, 2009

Wasilla Alaska indie band Portugal. The Man is playing tonight at The Waiting Room with Landing on the Moon. Portugal’s new album, The Satanic Satanist, kind of reminds me of low-end MGMT with some groovy rock touches and plenty of falsetto. If you’re wondering about the name, Wikipedia says they were going for a “bigger than life” vibe. Says guitarist John Gourley, “The band’s name is ‘Portugal’. The period is stating that, and ‘The Man’ states that it’s just one person,” though there’s more than one person in the band (more like five). They just played at Lollapalooza and did Bonnaroo earlier this year, so their star seems to be on the rise. Catch them for a mere $12. Show starts at 9 p.m.

* * *

A few newsy bits to pass along:

— Capgun Coup announced yesterday that its sophomore effort, Maudlin, will be released Nov. 3 on Team Love Records. According to the publicist: “The new album is often a satiric commentary on the state of contemporary life, from the futility of sadness, self-pity, and ennui to economic and social inequities to the anesthetizing effects of technology. With dishwater-colored and cracked glasses, Capgun Coup are almost modern, Midwestern Holden Caulfields – howling with restless dissatisfaction in anguished, dissonant vocals and armed with guitars.” Yeah, but does it have a beat you can dance to?

— Speed! Nebraska announced that Techlepathy’s debut CD is “at the plant” with more release info to follow. Techlepathy frontman Lincoln Dickison will be playing at noon this Saturday at famous Omaha craft store Mangelsen’s along with The Wagon Blasters and Outlaw Con Bandana. It’s free; bring the kids.

— I just noticed that the Meat Puppets are slated to play at The Waiting Room Nov. 7. I’ve never thought much of these guys live, but caught them at SXSW and was indeed impressed with their over-the-top arena-rock sound.

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This week’s column is a slight retooling of Monday’s blog entry, so if you read Lazy-i regularly, you’ve already seen this. I include it here for completist’s sake. I’m told that Little Brazil and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship won the talent contest and will be playing the Brashear LLC Local Stage, or as one clever reader suggested, perhaps they should rename it The Sarpy County Stage (see this OWH story for the punch line).

Column 233: Homeless in MAHA
Creek signs NYC singer/songwriter, MAHA hosts another talent contest.

Some bits and pieces from last week, culled from the blog…

Altsounds.com reported Sunday that Saddle Creek Records signed singer/songwriter Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson and will be releasing his new album, Summer of Fear, Oct. 20. MBAR has worked with a couple guys in Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio.

I’ve never heard of MBAR. Looks like there was a rather large swell of press surrounding him last summer, including an item in SPIN and a Q&A in New York blog Gothamist that included this quote about his stint as a homeless person in NYC:

“Q: Are there any nights you remember distinctly from that time in your life? A: This album is not about being homeless in New York. Maybe if we’re having a beer sometime we can bullshit about our past and tell drug stories but the repeated discussion of them in relation to talking about my music is beginning to bore me. I HAVE DONE A SHIT TON OF DRUGS AND I USED TO SLEEP OUTSIDE SOMETIMES. I ATE FOOD OUT OF THE GARBAGE AND SAVED FOUND CHANGE TO BUY MALT LIQOUR (sic). IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HATE THIS STORY YOU WILL SOON. Oh the unshakeable stench of cliché that surrounds me.”

Poor, poor MBAR. I have to agree with him, his background certainly is sad and cliché, and there are those who will assume that the experience permeates his songs, whether it does or not. He better get used to being asked about living in a cardboard box because us poor, lazy music journalists — dying to find some kind of hook to write around — are going to ask about it again and again. It reminds me of a comment I read from a musician who had a different kind of pre-fame hardship: “Yeah, I lived in my car for a year, in fact I was parked right behind Jewel.”

Checking out some of MBAR’s music on Myspace, it indeed sounds like something that belongs on Saddle Creek. How did it all come about? Saddle Creek head honcho Robb Nansel e-mailed me to say, “Jeff Tafolla (who works at Saddle Creek) came across him online. We all really liked his music and he was looking for a label. Jeff and I met him and his manager at SXSW earlier this year.” So, along with the recently signed Rural Alberta Advantage, it’s yet another SXSW success story for Saddle Creek.

Creek is on a signing binge these days. The label announced last month that it signed Lawrence band Old Canes. It’s as if they’ve decided to throw a handful of indie haircuts at the wall and see what sticks. Hopefully it’ll turn into a big, sticky wig.

* * *

Yet another “talent competition”-style audition was held Monday night for the MAHA Festival (O! what a terrible name). This time it was Little Brazil, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, Anniversaire, Little Black Stereo and Conchance battling for a chance to play on the festival’s “local stage.”

Two of the five were to be chosen via audience ballot. I told members of one of the bands prior to the show that they should form a union and tell the MAHA organizers that it’s all or nothing — take all the bands or take none. All have moved beyond the “battle of the bands” point in their careers a long time ago.

The two “winners” will be joining a couple other local bands on the litigiously titled “Brashear LLP Local Stage.” A similar audience-ballot process was conducted during the recent Omaha Entertainment and Arts Showcase. MAHA organizers issued a press release last weekend announcing that Jes Winter Band received the most ballots in that election. But it also said that “Another local band, It’s True, will appear after a collaborative effort between YFC, MAHA’s organizing committee, and 1% Productions earned them an invitation to play.”

Don’t get me wrong, I dig It’s True, but what exactly is “a collaborative effort” supposed to mean? That they got together and just decided? That would be a refreshing alternative to this endless stream of talent contests.

By the way, who or what is “YFC”? Well, Google “YFC” and the first search results you’ll see is Youth For Christ, which this ain’t. Instead, YFC stands for the not-so-cleverly titled “Your Festival Committee.” They may want to rethink that TLA (Three Letter Acronym).

The fest takes place at the Lewis & Clark Riverfront Landing on Aug. 29. Tickets are $30. On the bill are some Harrah’s Casino-type bands including Big Head Todd and the Monsters, G. Love and Special Sauce and Dashboard Confessional. Guess they couldn’t get The Spin Doctors or Crash Test Dummies.

There actually are a couple good national acts on the bill — Appleseed Cast and Army Navy, two bands that I’d rather see perform at The Waiting Room or Slowdown. The bad news is that they’ll be playing at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively. Of course no one will be there yet, so the organizers will feel justified in saying, “See, no one’s here. Good thing we scheduled them early.” And they’ll be right, because no one who wants to see Big Head Todd knows or cares for Appleseed Cast.

I’m still waiting for someone to step up with a real festival that would include some truly vital bands, like Sonic Youth, Wilco, PJ Harvey, or a reformed Jane’s Addiction. Waitaminit, that festival was held last weekend… in Chicago.

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