by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
There are two CD release shows tomorrow night. The one with the most pre-show hype is the Scott Severin and the Milton Burlesque show at The Waiting Room. Severin has managed to nab big write-ups today in the big three media outlets: The Reader, The Omaha World-Herald, and Shout! Weekly. I have no doubt that all of his media work will pay off.
At the same time tomorrow night over at O’Leaver’s, Lincoln band The Sleepover will be celebrating its CD release show for Oceans of Ice, Island of Terror, one of the best locally produced indie albums I’ve heard this year. Fronted by guitarist/singer/songwriter Cory Kibler and released on Lone Prairie Records (Ember Schrag, Loup River Band, the label is run by Lincolnite Eric Wickizer) it’s recommended for anyone who digs melancholy, brooding bands like Bedhead/The New Year or Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon. Kibler has a soft, mewing voice that at times is a spot-on match to Mark Kozelek, especially on songs like “Island of Terror” and “Glowing New-Century Town.”
Not surprisingly, Kibler references none of these bands on his one-sheet, and told me he is only vaguely familiar with Kozelek. I’ve heard a lot of bands purposely reach for this sound and fail because they don’t understand how to write these kinds of hooks and return to them over and over (There, indeed, is joy in repetition). But unlike Kozelek, who can drone on and for more than 10 minutes per song, Kibler keeps these at pop-song length (nothing over five minutes) without losing any power. Like Bedhead’s Kadane brothers, Kibler’s arrangements are deceptively simple and lean. But he strays from their formula with his bouncier, more upbeat and slightly fey songs — I guess a guy can’t be depressed all the time (though when it comes to Bedhead (especially on What Fun Life Was) you never want to wake from the stupor).
Still, there is a Midwestern darkness to the best of Oceans of Ice that reflects a coming-of-age sense of futility. “I will say that the most inspiring recurrent theme on the record is that, as a guy in my late 20s, I have shit WAY less figured out than I thought I would,” Kibler told me in an email. “I thought after grad school (I got an MA in philosophy, ha-ha), I’d have started a really solid career by now, but I’m still getting shit figured out. Add that to the fact that many of my friends are doing really well because they planned ahead and were more realistic than I was, and there’s some residual bitterness. Directed at myself, not my friends.” Live and learn, Cory.
The album was recorded last fall by Chris Steffen (www.steffonicrecording.com), mixed and edited over the winter by Eric Medley (www.ericmedley.com), and mastered this past spring by C. Howie Howard (www.mrfuriousrecords.com). “For what it’s worth, it’s awesome that Eric agreed to mix/edit the record remotely from his home in South Carolina,” Kibler said. “He’s an ex-Lincolnite who has been recording for years and years. He’s worked with a ton of amazing bands including Mercy Rule, The Millions, Bright Eyes, Cursive, Her Flyaway Manner, Happy Dog, Lullaby for the Working Class, and many more.”
Backing Kibler is James Tucci, bass; Bradley Kester, drums, background vocals, and Sarah Korf, piano/keys and background vocals. Steffen is the guy providing the trumpet on a few tracks.
On the surface, the album is somewhat plain-jane, yet I never found myself bored listening to it, which is something I can’t say about most of the music being released locally these days. That said, this is merely an interim step for Kibler and Co. With the clear split in this record’s style between mope and lilting pop, we’ll have to wait and see which direction he ends up going or if, like Bedhead and Kozelek, he can refine a style that turns down into up, black into white, and desolation into power. You can hear four tracks off Oceans of Ice and order the album online here.
The only way this record could be more opposite from Severin’s is if it incorporated a gay choir and an orchestra of vuvzelas. Needless to say, neither CD release show will bite into the other’s draw. More on Severin’s disc tomorrow.
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A couple housekeeping items concerning yesterday’s blog entry: Darren Keen wrote in to say that Bad Speler isn’t going to compile its mixes onto an album, but instead is going to use the money raised from the mixtapes to release an album that will “be a little more focused and produced” then the mixes. Mike Tulis wrote to say that the Soapbox Riot is being brought to you by O’Leaver’s, not Speed! Nebraska (though the press release says both are involved in the event).
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Tonight at The Waiting Room, San Diego Americana band The Delta Spirit (Rounder) performs with Chicago’s Ezra Furman and the Harpoons (Minty Fresh) and LA’s The Romany Rye. $12, 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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.