Over the Edge: Lasting Impressions – a look back at the 2008 Lazy-i Top 20 list; Built to Spill tonight…

Category: Column — @ 12:24 pm June 27, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The following Over the Edge column also is in the printed version of the June issue of The Reader. It hasn’t gone on their site yet, and I don’t know if it will (but it probably will). Perfect for #TBT…

Lasting Impressions
A Look Back to 2008 Shows the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

By Tim McMahan

As I was putting together my top 20 list of favorite local bands for this, the annual Music Issue of The Reader, it dawned on me that many of the names looked, um … familiar.

I did a little research and discovered we began putting together top 20 lists way back in the October 2006 issue of The Reader. It was a novel idea that, if memory serves me, came about after bouncing concepts back and forth between myself and then-Reader music editor Andy Norman (who these days heads stellar nonprofit Rabble Mill, including remnants of Hear Nebraska, which I’m told will rise again, but that’s another story …).

Despite digging through my closet of yellowed Reader back issues, I couldn’t find that 2006 issue or that first top 20 list. I did find in my archives my 2008 top 20 and “Next 15” lists, and to my surprise discovered many of the same acts are on my 2019 list.

How did those 2008 top 20 bands fare a decade later? Let’s take a look:

Brad Hoshaw — Hoshaw, who’s on the 2019 list, is putting the finishing touches on an album recorded in Redwood Studio in Denton, Texas.

Brimstone Howl — Fronted by John Ziegler, the band evolved into The Lupines, who are on the 2019 list.

Conor Oberst remains Conor Oberst, and is on the 2019 list.

Eagle*Seagull — Fronted by singer/songwriter Eli Mardock, at the time the band was thought to be Nebraska’s “next big thing,” but broke up in 2010. Mardock and his wife, Carrie, also a former member of Eagle*Seagull, now run the Royal Grove in Lincoln. Eli just released a new project on Warner Music Germany called The Kiez with Hamburg native Lucas Kochbeck.

The Faint — Also on the 2019 list.

Filter Kings — Omaha’s favorite (and only?) outlaw-country band disappeared a few years after making this list, but occasionally makes a stage appearance fronted by the legendary Gerald Lee Jr.

Flowers Forever — Led by Derek Pressnall, who also was a member of Tilly and the Wall. Pressnall now fronts Saddle Creek Records band Icky Blossoms, which hasn’t produced new music since 2015’s Mask.

For Against — The ’80s-era Lincoln dream pop band re-emerged in 2008 and 2009 with new records, and then submerged itself once again. Indie labels Captured Tracks and Saint Marie Records reissued a number of their early recordings in recent years.

The Good Life — The other project of Cursive’s Tim Kasher currently is on hiatus while Cursive barnstorms the country supporting its new album, Vitriola. Cursive is on the 2019 list.

Malpais — Whatever happened to frontman Greg Loftis? Check the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

McCarthy Trenching — Dan McCarthy remains Omaha’s favorite troubadour, recently having one of his songs covered by none other than Phoebe Bridgers and Jackson Browne.

Midwest Dilemma — The folk-rock project by singer/songwriter Justin Lamoureux has yet to follow up the release of 2008 album Timelines & Tragedies.

The Monroes — One of the many musical projects of Gary Dean Davis, former frontman of ’90s tractor-punk legends Frontier Trust. The Monroes folded, and Davis re-emerged in The Wagon Blasters, who are on the 2019 list.

Neva Divona — The project of frontman Jake Bellows appears to be on permanent hiatus. Bellows now lives in Los Angeles and plays in Supermoon with Morgan Nagler of Whispertown.

The Show Is the Rainbow a.k.a. Darren Keen is living and working in Lincoln again after spending years in Brooklyn.

Son, Ambulance is still alive and kicking and, rumor has it, working on a new set of songs.

Thunder Power continued to play and record music through 2012 before disbanding.

Tilly and the Wall — The tap-dance powered phenoms haven’t released an album since 2012’s Heavy Mood (Team Love Records).

UUVVWWZ — The Lincoln-based art-rock project followed its self-titled Saddle Creek Records debut with 2013’s The Trusted Language. Last I heard frontwoman Teal Gardner was living and making art in Boise, Idaho. Guitarist Jim Schroeder is in a number of Omaha projects, including The David Nance Group, which is on the 2019 list.

The Whipkey Three — Matt Whipkey is on the 2019 list.

From 2008’s “The Next 15” list, Simon Joyner, Little Brazil and Talkin’ Mountain’s Jason Steady all made the 2019 list.

That makes 11 artists from 2008 with connections to this year’s top 20 list.

Back then, I introduced these lists with an essay that said, to paraphrase myself, “Lists don’t matter,” written (I suppose) to appease those who weren’t on it. A decade later, I can tell you that lists do matter if only to provide a guidepost in an era when we’re surrounded by too many paths.

Beyond the fundamental arguments we’re all familiar with about streaming music — that the sound quality is sub-par, that it cheats artists who could have made money by selling physical copies (which is bogus for young acts. How many bands do you know with unopened cases of their albums moldering in their basement?) — the biggest conundrum is there’s just too much of it. Anyone can release an album on Bandcamp or one of the streaming services, but few can get people to actually listen to it.

Lists like the top 20 point people to the good stuff, at least as it’s perceived by the publication or critic. It cuts through a mighty dense fog, and you can either follow the light or move on to the next lighthouse.

The fact that 12 of the Top 20 artists this year were on the 2008 list can be viewed as evidence of the lethargy of our scene, of how little things have changed in a decade.

But it also can be viewed as proof of that old list’s accuracy. These artists are still around, they’re still creating high-quality music, they’re still making a difference — if not with their own creations, then by influencing others on the list who have joined them.

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

First published in the June 2019 issue of The Reader. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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If that wasn’t #TBT enough for you, Built to Spill returns to The Waiting Room tonight to perform seminal 1992 album Keep it Like a Secret. Orua and Clark and the Himselfs also are on the bill. $25, 8 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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