by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
RIYL. That stands for Recommended If You Like, and it’s used by lazy journalists like me to describe bands by comparing their music to another band’s or performer’s music. It’s handy, but frowned upon by a lot of artists because it’s thought to marginalize and diminish their own creativity efforts.
Here’s how it works. Water Liars are playing tonight at Slowdown Jr. RIYL: Will Johnson (Centro-matic), The Bruces, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), M. Ward, Okkervil River, Will Oldham… and so on. The duo’s new album, Phantom Limb (released by Misra Records) is pretty fantastic. This show flew under the radar for me, I had no idea it was coming up. Go. Opening is Midwest Dilemma. 9 p.m., $7.
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Sometime in the middle of the night when I was fast asleep, my phone blooped/bleeped with the following tweet: “Bret Vovk took your column to heart and stepped it up a notch tonight. Guitar, piano and loops making a lush set.” The tweet came from O’Leaver’s Pub. I’m not sure who owns that account, obviously someone who works/lives there. When I saw it this morning I thought, “Good for him. I wish I would have been there.” Then I thought, “Why doesn’t he do this for all his performances?” There are a lot of musicians out there who make fantastically dense, creative albums with multiple tracks and layered sounds and then go on stage and perform them with just an acoustic guitar. I know, I know… it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to replicate the album’s sound live. It not only takes technology, it can take additional musicians to help bring the songs to life, which takes time and money, whereas it’s faster and cheaper to throw your guitar in the back seat and go to the club and just do them solo. Because it’s about the songs anyway, right? I get it. But… if you can add just a little more than your guitar and voice, if you can get just one or even two of your pals to help you on stage, if you can come a little closer to the target, especially when that target in no way resembles its solo acoustic counterpart, why wouldn’t you? Vovk’s got two advantages over a lot of local singer/songwriters: 1) He writes good songs, 2) He has a good, unaffected voice. Why not showcase both as best you can every time you perform? Because I’m afraid the next time Underwater Dream Machine plays live — and I’m able to go — it’ll just be Vovk and his guitar again…
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BTW, I think there are something like 1.26 billion people playing solo acoustic shows somewhere on any given night.
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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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