by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Saddle Creek Records reports that first-week sales for Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key were 41,185, good enough to come in at No. 13 on the Billboard charts, behind a ton of Grammy releases (including two Bieber albums). 41k is an impressive number. Remember, Cassadaga sold 58k its first week way back in ’07 at the beginning of the decline of the record industry. According to Mike Fratt, who runs Homer’s Music, 17,796 copies sold were digital — a whopping 43 percent of total sales. You can thank that $3.99 Amazon deal for a big share of those numbers.
Pitchfork didn’t exactly go out of its way to help the album’s sales, continuing the website’s tradition of hatin’ on The Creek. Critic David Bevan loved “Ladder Song,” the most depressing tune on the album. As for the rest of the record, he was not so kind… “But with the plain exception of ‘Ladder Song,’ the slick sonics here make the rest of the pack all the more cavernous and impersonal, a long ways from where the whole story began. Every line is laid with the rich sense of rhythm and texture that he’s mastered over the years, but it still adds up to very little: a wildly spiritual record without any spirit,” he concluded, rating the album a measly 5.0. Read the entire review here.
More notable to those who follow consistent criticism is Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review at allmusic.com. Erlewine, who is the website’s senior editor, went against the grain dissing Digital Ash (2 stars) and Wide Awake (2 stars) back in ’05. He was more complementary this time ’round: “Disregarding the lyrics — something that is not easy or necessarily optimal with Oberst, who is continuing to whittle away his overwritten excesses — The People’s Key is Bright Eyes’ poppiest record by some measure, trading anthems with the weight of America on their shoulders for sculptured miniatures.” Erlewine gave the album 3.5 stars. The full review is here.
Conor and Co. will try to get a “Letterman bump” when they appear on Late Night w/David Letterman tomorrow night with Sen. Rand Paul (Will there be fisticuffs? I think Conor could take him).
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There was some chatter at last Saturday night’s Pete Yorn show that Harrah’s was about to announce a huge, exciting show for their summer Stir Concert Cove series. Well, they announced the show yesterday: The Black Keys *thud*. The $37 (I’m not kidding) show is July 5 with opener Cage the Elephants *yawn*. If you’re doing the math, that’s $4 more than last year’s all-day MAHA Festival. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Weren’t the Black Keys just here?” you’re not mistaken. They played at The Anchor Inn last August.
Is it me or does the Omaha area seem to get a lot of the same bands over and over? Are we part of some sort of déjà vu circuit? Deerhoof, who played at TWR last weekend, was just here in June. Mogwai, who plays here in April, just played Slowdown last summer. Heartless Bastards, who perform at Slowdown this Sunday night, were in Omaha last July. The Nadas, who were just here in December, are coming back in May; and Of Montreal, who plays at Slowdown in May, was at Sokol in October. Will we be hearing an announcement about an upcoming She & Him show in the near future?
Meanwhile, there’s an army of acts that have either never stepped foot in Nebraska or been here in many years. Everyone has their own list of bands they’d love to see that seem to avoid Omaha. Mine includes Belle and Sebastian, PJ Harvey, Sun Kil Moon, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, The xx, Aimee Mann, Beck, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M., (the late) LCD Soundsystem, Iron & Wine, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Glasvegas, Dirtbombs, Justice, Tyvek, The Magnetic Fields, Nick Cave, Radiohead, the list goes on and on… I’m sure there’s a very logical, straightforward reason why these bands avoid Omaha while other acts continue to hit Nebraska over and over…
That said, we don’t have room to complain. Just look who’s playing tonight at The Waiting Room. The Smith Westerns just snagged a massive 8.4 rating at Pitchfork for their new album, Dye It Blonde, as well as the website’s coveted “best new music” designation. And the credit is well deserved. Opening is psych rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra (check out some tracks here). $10, 9 p.m.
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Tomorrow: Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship
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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.