It was the first show ever for Paris When It Sizzles, a cute girl who played a solo set with electric guitar, which she looped and then played over and sang. Her first show. And the biggest problem was tuning — if you loop a guitar that’s out of tune, you’re only compounding the problem, repeating it endlessly and then playing out of tune over the out-of-tune loop. There was a certain unintentional charm about it. She struggled, but I think it’s a struggle for anyone who plays at PS Collective because it’s one of the worst sounding rooms for live music in Omaha. It’s no one’s fault — the place simply has the sonic depth of someone’s basement rec room, everything bright and bouncing and sounding hollow and sharp. Add to that a problem with one of the amp connections — a short that randomly resulted in a thunderous ear-piercing crunch — and you have less-than-optimum conditions for your first gig ever. She soldiered on, however, and now has it behind her.
Those conditions didn’t help the other bands last night, though it didn’t hinder them as much. Cleemann was a trio led by Danish singer/songwriter/guitarist Gunnar Cleemann with local genius Dereck Higgins on bass and former Preston Love sideman Gary Foster on drums. I heard someone compare him and his voice to Nick Drake, but I didn’t hear it, picking up more Lloyd Cole in the phrasing (but I’m always looking for Lloyd Cole). I liked his voice, and I liked his songs which had nuanced depth that lingered beneath the pop. If you listened to Cleemann’s Myspace page you were probably wondering who this guy was, because the music sounded completely different. Higgins and Foster have had a thorough effect on his sound. You can barely hear the bass on myspace, whereas the bass led the way on a number of songs last night. Higgins told me afterward that Cleemann worked closely with the rest of the trio on the arrangements, capitalizing on the talent he was working with. Smart.
For those who have never seen Dereck Higgins — no one plays bass with his level of dynamics, his impeccable touch, his awareness of where the songs are going. He knew when to be in the fray, when to lead, and when to pull back and get out of the way. That’s something I rarely (if ever) noticed from other bass players. If you get a chance to check him out, you really should. Actually, you have a chance tonight (if you’re not reading this too late) as Cleemann and the band are playing at the Clawfoot House in Lincoln tonight.
At around 11:30 Thunder Power finally got on the PS Collective stage (after much static/noise/pain). I like their music and their style, but I don’t understand the band’s frontwoman — it’s as if she’s singing in another language, a language that consists of bloops and bleeps and odd vowel sounds. I think I’d like her voice if I understood what she was singing, and if she looked like she was even remotely having a good time on stage instead of looking dour and upset (which was quite a contrast to the rest of the band, which looked like it was having a helluva time).
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Singer/songwriter and Benson fixture Kyle Harvey is having a CD release party tonight at The Barley Street Tavern. The album is titled Nightmares (of you and me by the sea). “This album is a bit more folky than the previous,” Kyle told me in an email, adding that it was recorded with Alex McManus (The Bruces). Harvey is a busy man these days. He says he’s already started working on his next album, and then there’s his role in local break-out band It’s True, which just got back from SXSW and has an album of its own coming out shortly. $5, 9 p.m.
Also tonight, Murder By Death is playing up the street at The Waiting Room with Ha Ha Tonka and Linfinity. $12, 9 p.m.
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