Show promoter Widmest Productions calls it quits; new Oberst/Bridgers project on the way?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm January 16, 2019

What is Better Living Oblivion Center? Enquiring minds want to know…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last week Tim Kiefer, the man behind Widmest Productions production company, which booked shows throughout Benson, at O’Leaver’s and at other venues, announced Widmest was ending after three years of operations.

We loved doing this, but all good things must come to an end and as professionals in our late 40s with young kids, we just couldn’t give Widmest the attention it needed – and the bands and venues we work with deserve nothing but our utmost attention,” Kiefer said.

Among the acts Widmest booked are Christopher the Conquered, Clarence Tilton, Bud Bronson & The Good Timers and Cracker.

We were able to work with one of our favorite artists for our first show, Grant Hart (in May 2015),” Kiefer said. “We had a great weekend getting to know him and the events were great. Grant was everything he was cracked up to be: generous, a bit odd, curmudgeonly, funny and genuine. It was awesome.”

Another highlight was releasing Bazile Mills’ 2015 EP Where We Are. “We’re proud of the record and being a part of the entire process was a great experience,” he said. “We didn’t really think through distribution, which was a pretty big miss, but we’re whole in the end and we have the record as proof of our efforts.

It is cliche, but the best part truly was meeting a ton of really great people,” he added. “We learned a lot about how difficult it is to make a living in this industry (We weren’t trying to make our living through Widmest, thank God!) and how hard the artists work to try and make it. Thankfully, there are so many great musicians willing to throw their hats in the ring. In the end, we remain huge fans of a wide range of artists and we look forward to going back to just enjoying the fruits of others’ labors!

Are there any local promoters left outside of One Percent Productions that book indie shows in Omaha?

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One bit of mysterious music news… from Brooklyn Vegan.

Within the past month, Conor Oberst and Team Love have been connected to a viral promotion for Better Oblivion Community Center, which may or may not be the name of a new music project. Brooklyn Vegan reported that BOCC may be connected to a collaborative project involving Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers, who already have a history of working together.

I guess we’ll have to wait until next Wednesday, Jan. 23, to find out. That’s the date of BOCC’s “launch party” according to the message that plays when you call the number on the brochure…

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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.

Lazy-i

Digital Leather drops ‘Feeet,’ limited edition German vinyl…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:15 pm January 14, 2019

Digital Leather, Feeet, dropped this weekend on Stencil Trash Records. Looks like the album title added an additional “E” since when this art first appeared last summer.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The new Digital Leather album Feeet dropped over the weekend. Yeah, I know, seems like Shawn Foree drops a new collection of music every six months. This one is different. Released on boutique German label Stencil Trash Records the packaging is truly unique. “This limited run 180 gram black vinyl includes a 16-page handwritten lyric booklet, sticker and small hinge glued on the rounded cover, and black deluxe innersleeves with rounded corners. 

The album is limited to 333 copies, and according to the Bandcamp page only six copies remain. 

But forget about the packaging for a sec. This is probably the best collection of Digital Leather songs since 2015’s All Faded. “Feeet is an eclectic compilation of mainly tape-only released songs written and recorded between 2008 and 2018,” says the Bandcamp page. 

Foree provided almost all the tracks for this electronic-driven album, though human drum sounds were provided by Jeff Lambelet, Sean Ruse and Gregory Elsasser. The album was mastered by Daniel Husayn at North London Bomb Factory.

Check out the track below; order a copy (while supplies last) here.

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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.

Lazy-i

Oquoa, Ocean Black, Screaming Plastic tonight; Megan Siebe Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm January 11, 2019

Oquoa at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2017. They play tonight at O’Leavers.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

So they’re saying 3 to 5 inches of snow tonight. That’s not near enough to keep you inside, is it?

Top of tonight’s list is Oquoa at The Sydney in Benson. The band has been working on new material. Let’s see what they’ve been up to. Hussies, who just released a new album (Fast), open at 10 p.m. $5.

Meanwhile, over at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Omaha sludge-rock stoners Ocean Black open for ’80s-style rockers Jump the Tiger. Flux Amuck kicks things off at 9:30. $5.

Earlier in the evening at Hi-Fi House, free improvisation ensemble Screaming Plastic is having a listening party for its debut album. “The album’s seven tracks are selected from a three-hour batch of improvisations recorded at Omaha’s ARC Studios.” The spinning starts at 7 p.m. and it’s free.

Also tonight, The Waiting Room is hosting Flint Fest, a fundraiser for the Flint Kids Fund. Cult Play tops a bill that includes J. Crum, On 2 Galaxies, Jocko and Motel Martyr. $10, 8 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) there’s a three-artist bill at O’Leaver’s headlined by Stathi with Cursive’s Megan Siebe (Cursive kicks off a month-long tour next Friday in Denver) and Steady Wells. $5, 10 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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.

Lazy-i

Beyond #TBT: Sideshow’s Eggplants and Sunspots remastered…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm January 10, 2019

Lincoln band Sideshow back in the day…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Now here’s some welcome Throwback Thursday news…

Yesterday former Caufield Records label executive Bernie McGinn posted a link to a newly remastered (by Eric Medley no less) version of the seminal 1993 album Eggplants and Sunspots by Nebraska golden age Lincoln band Sideshow.

When first released, the album made quite a splash down at the old Antiquarium and throughout the world as the trio of frontman/bassist McGinn, guitarist Rich Higgins and drummer Pawl Tisdale barnstormed parts of the great Midwest touring their unique brand of punk. 

Who remembers this, circa Nov. 1994?

I’ve heard this record described as emo; to me it had more in common with Seattle grunge, thanks to its overall bombastic quality. Sideshow were always a good compliment to Lincoln band Mercy Rule, who had a similar anthemic style to their music. No doubt the two bands often performed together, including one memorable trip to Des Moines that was documented in a story published in The Note back in ’93 (One day I’ll put that story online… or in a book). 

These days Tisdale plays drums for Domestica (a new incarnation of Mercy Rule), McGinn lives somewhere in San Francisco and I have no idea of the whereabouts of Rich Higgins. Here’s hoping he’s alive and well and open to doing a national tour in support of this Sideshow “rerelease”… or at least a reunion show at The Waiting Room.

Listening to the album again this morning, it’s held up quite well. Give it a spin and buy a download.

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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.

Lazy-i

Hand Habits signs to Saddle Creek, new album March 1; Remember Sports tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:47 pm January 8, 2019

A screen cap from Hand Habits’ video for title track, “Placeholder.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Saddle Creek Record’s LA connections locked up yet another new artist for the label’s roster.

Hand Habits is the LA-based project of singer/songwriter Meg Duffy, who is also known as the guitarist for Kevin Morby’s touring band as well as her work with Erin Birgy (Mega Bog) and The War on Drugs.

Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), came out on Woodsist Records in 2017.  The band is shifting to Saddle Creek for their sophomore LP, placeholder, due out March 1.

Sayeth the press release: “Instrumentally, placeholder can be situated alongside some of Meg’s folk-adjacent contemporaries like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, and the guitar work on this album proves that Meg continues to be one of the finest young musicians working today.”

BTW, if the name sounds familiar it could be because Saddle Creek release a single by Hand Habits (“yr heart” b/w “Carpenter’s Daughter”) in the fall of 2017 as part of their Document Series.

Pre-orders  for placeholder (including for a very cool limited-to-250 colored vinyl version) are being taken now at the Saddle Creek Store.

Needless to say, Hand Habits will be touring this spring, including an April 1 date at The Slowdown.

Check out the video for the title track below.

And here’s half of that Document single:

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Philly-based self-proclaimed “basement rock” band Remember Sports has been playing their style of jangle-indie rock since 2012. Their latest, Slow Buzz, came out last year on Father/Daughter Records. Check ’em out tonight at Reverb Lounge. Label-mates Nadine opens at 8 p.m. $10.

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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.

Lazy-i

High Up calls it quits (and goodbye Finks); Saddle Creek makes Paste list; new Jason Steady…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:45 pm January 7, 2019

High Up at The Slowdown, Nov. 28, 2015. The band announced this weekend that it’s breaking up.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Happy Monday. Here are a few news items from the past week…

Yesterday, High Up announced via Facebook that it’s calling it quits. From the post:

“Between beautiful and healthy new additions to Matt and Josh’s families and new journeys to other parts of the country for Orenda, Todd and Christine, we felt it was best to move on and move up, and we wish the same happiness and positive change to you and yours.”

The Finks moving from Omaha is a major blow to the local music scene. All three Finks were among the city’s most talented musicians, and will be greatly missed. Obviously, it could be a long time (if ever) until we see another Closeness concert in this city.

We likely wouldn’t have seen much of Todd next year anyway. The Faint will be busy with the release of Egowerk March 15 on Saddle Creek Records. No announcement has been made concerning a national tour, but you have to believe one is in the making. And Azure Ray just announced a couple January dates in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Could more be on the way?

High Up was one of Omaha’s biggest hopes for breaking through to a larger audience after the release of their debut full-length You Are Here on Team Love Records in early 2018. But after some initial touring, things went quiet for the band. Here’s hoping frontwoman Christine Fink finds a new gig in Savannah — it’d be a shame to never hear those golden pipes again.

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Saddle Creek Records got a nice tip o’ the hat from Paste Magazine last week when it made their list of the 10 best record labels of 2018.

Saddle Creek, the Nebraska label that started as a college class project in 1993, now boasts one of the most focused rosters in indie rock,” said the article, which also lists such stalwart labels as Sub Pop, Merge and Secretly Canadian among the best.

Matador Records topped the list at No. 1, and See Through Dresses’ label, Tiny Engines, was named Boutique Label of the Year. See the full list here.

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Finally, last Thursday Jason Steady (Talking Mountain, Wolf Dealer) released a new video for the track “Deep Lucy.”

Cosmic midwestern music! I’ll be touring again in May with my buddy Chris (Slushy/Lemons/Nobunny/Cowboys/etc.) and this song is part of a forthcoming release,” he said.

Check it below:

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Lazy-i Best of 2018

It’s the final day to ask for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2018 Comp CD. The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Tracks include songs by J Masic, Sextile, Father John Misty, Campdogzz, Those Far Out Arrows, Boygenius, Your Smith, Nik Freitaz, Ron Gallo, Adrianne Lenker and lots more. The full track listing is here, or listen on Spotify.

To enter to win a copy of the CD either: 1) Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Let me know you want one via Facebook comments, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet (If you use social media and win, I’ll reach out later for your mailing address). Hurry, contest deadline is tonight at midnight.

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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.

Lazy-i

The Bralettes, High Ruler, #BFF, Clarence Tilton tonight; Plack Blague Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:38 pm January 4, 2019

A frightening still from Plack Blague’s 2014 video for “Boyz Club.” The Blague plays Saturday night at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

We’ve entered the black hole known as “January” — a dark, cold month which naturally invites people to stay inside huddled next to their TVs and/or fireplaces and forego traveling out into the abyss. Club owners and promoters know this, and as a result, quality indie shows (especially nationally touring indie shows) will be hard to come by over the next few weeks. Thus is life.

Still, a few local shows worth mentioning:

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Dallas all-girl (their description) indie-punk trio The Bralettes headlines. Catchy, jangly, fun. Omaha’s The Morbs opens along with Bach Mai. $5, 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, it’s the first Friday in January and that means Benson First Friday (#BFF). The Sydney in Benson is celebrating heavy this time with some metal in the form of Lincoln’s High Ruler, along with Truth in Ruin and Bitch Dust. $5, 10 p.m.

BTW, The Sydney’s BFF featured fine artist (you know, painter) is none other than Sabre Blazek (Who remembers Machete Archive?). You can check out his art at The Sydney for free starting at 5 p.m.

And since you’re going to be in Benson anyway, you might as well swing by The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple St., for our BFF opening. It’s called “Transcendence” and features eight artist including works by the show’s curator, Marie-Elena Schembri. We’re there from 6 to 9 p.m. Stop in and say hi and have a snack and a cup of Joe!

One other show tonight: Clarence Tilton is playing a free set tonight out at Growler USA.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) everyone’s headed to Reverb Lounge for Lincoln’s favorite bondage-leather-geek-EDM-genius Plack Blague. Joining in on the fun are CBN, Glow in the Dark and Lowercase Tres. $5, 9 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section.

Lazy-i Best of 2018

Also, I still have a copy or two of the Lazy-i Best of 2018 Comp CD. The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: David Nance Group, Courtney Barnett, Sextile, boygenius, Natalie Prass, Azure Ray, J Mascis, Caroline Rose, Parquet Courts, Little Brazil, Cursive and lots more. The full track listing is here, or listen on Spotify.

Enter to win a copy of the CD by either: 1) Sending an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Letting me know you want one via Facebook comments, or 3) Retweeting a Lazy-i tweet (If you use social media and win, I’ll reach out later for your mailing address). Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 7, at midnight.

Have a great weekend.

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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.

Lazy-i

Music Visions for 2019: What happened last year; what’ll happen this year…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:00 pm January 2, 2019

Visions of 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It is time once again to gaze into the crystal Fender Strat and peer into another dimension which will reveal to my eyes alone the happenings and occurrences that shall take place over the next calendar year in the world of popular music. Hey man, it’s my annual music predictions!

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at how I did with last year’s visions for 2018.

2018 Prediction: With Milk Run gone another DIY venue will emerge to try to fill the void in booking up-and-coming touring indie artists.

Reality: While there are still house shows, no one has really stepped up to fill Milk Run’s shoes.

2018 Prediction: With new California offices, expect as many as four new bands added to the Saddle Creek Records’ roster in 2018, including at least one veteran indie band looking for a new home.

Reality: The Creek added Black Belt Eagle Scout, Young Jesus, Tomberlin and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker. As for that veteran band, The Faint is back and will release its first new album in five years.

2018 Prediction: Watch as some rather big names leave NYC and LA for the cheap digs and central location only Omaha can provide.

Reality: We’re still waiting.

2018 Prediction: Those who freaked out when vinyl returned will be doubly shocked when cassette tapes begin to make a comeback this year.

Reality: Cassette sales for the first half of 2018 were up 90 percent year-over-year in the UK and we now have an annual Cassette Store Day where you can pick up cassette copies of Nevermind, Back in Black and the Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack, among others.

2018 Predictions: Speaking of vinyl, as albums sales begin to flatten this year, watch as prices for new vinyl finally begin to drop. Can the $9.99 album be far behind?

Reality: You’ll still be hard-pressed to find new vinyl albums under $20.

2018 Prediction: Fed up with facing a crowd of people holding up smart phones during concerts, artists will implement new technology that will block smart phone cameras from operating inside venues.

Reality: While this tech exists (Apple patented it years ago) artists are still using Yondr devices to lock up your cell phone during shows.

2018 Prediction: With Hi-Fi House going public last summer and Hear Nebraska merging with Lincoln’s The Bay, look for yet another music-related organization to emerge, this time as a non-profit performance venue.

Reality: The Bemis is establishing a new sound art and experimental music residency program that will include a recording studio and performance space, but the music will be anything but pop.

2018 Prediction: More and more bands will change their names after their first or second release. Same band, different name, all to keep their music in front of the ever-fickle music public always looking for the next big thing.

Reality: Nope.

2018 Prediction: With the opening of the new Capitol District we will see even more live original music somewhere downtown other than at No-Do.

Reality: Well, there’s the Harney Street Tavern…

2018 Prediction: As the Maha Music Festival turns 10 this year, expect a mega-spectacular headliner and the festival’s expansion to a two-day event.

Reality: Maha indeed expanded to two days in 2018, with Weezer as the headliner.

2018 Prediction: You thought Prince’s and Bowie’s deaths were earth shakers, someone even bigger will be knocking on heaven’s door this year.

Reality: Mr. Zimmerman is still very much with us.

2018 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Monsters of Folk, High Up, Little Brazil, David Nance, Low, Stephen Malkmus, Cursive, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Navy Gangs, Bib, Hop Along.

Reality: Almost all the bands mentioned released new material in 2018.

2018 Prediction: Director Alexander Payne will be so bowled over by the area’s music scene that he not only will try to integrate Omaha music into one of his upcoming films, he’ll begin work on a movie based loosely on the Omaha music scene circa 2003.

Reality: I still think it’s a helluva idea, and I know where you can find a screenwriter, Alexander.

So, let’s see…. 6 out of 13. Eek. Let’s see if I can beat that this year?

Prediction: First it was vinyl, then cassettes and now even 8-tracks. Next year crazed music aficionados will take it one step further as we see the first album released on reel-to-reel tape.

Prediction: You thought having concert tickets on your iPhone was handy, watch out for facial recognition tickets. By submitting your facial profile to Ticketmaster, checking in at a show will be as easy as looking into a camera.

Prediction: A savvy concert promoter will organize a new Lilith Fair next year that brings together every hot indie female-led act for a traveling tour. Among them female indie supergroup boygenius, Saddle Creek’s Big Thief and Hop Along, Mitski, Noname, Eleanor Friedberger, Courtney Barnett and, of course, the return of Sarah McLachlan.

Prediction: Now with offices in Omaha and LA, watch Saddle Creek open offices in New York City and reopen offices in the UK as the label continues to expand its new-era roster.

Prediction: Speaking of Saddle Creek, with the return of The Faint to the roster, expect an even more surprising new release from another of the label’s first-generation superstars.

Prediction: For years the Hi-Fi House flew under the local radar before finally going public. This year a national publication will discover the project and bring it to the attention of a world-wide audience.

Prediction: As times get tougher for musicians, watch next year as the number of GoFundMe campaigns rise, including from some very well-known artists. They won’t be asking you to fund recording projects; they just need to pay their bills.

Prediction: At least one major, respected rock artist will come out in 2019… as a Trump supporter, and the fallout will make even Kanye blush.

Prediction: Because of the advent of streaming services, more and more vintage (i.e., ancient) artists will enter the Billboard Hot 100 as a new generation of listeners discovers them via television commercials or film soundtracks. Everything old is new again.

Prediction: As we mourn the passing of Almost Music a new record store will open in 2019 either downtown or in Benson operated by another well-respected member of the local music community. The shop will feature the same high-quality curated new and used stock, and will quickly become “the place” where musicians and young fans hang out.

Prediction: A very famous candle in the wind will be extinguished in 2019.

Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Beck, Belle & Sebastian, The Faint, Algiers, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, The Smiths, The Rolling Stones, Bob Mould, Thick Paint, Ryan Adams, Bjork, M Ward, Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes.

Prediction: Finally, one of Saddle Creek Records’ new era artists will do what no other Creek artist has been able to do: Be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Can you guess her name?

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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.

Lazy-i

The Year in Music 2018: news recap, favorite albums and live shows for the year gone by…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 9:21 am December 31, 2018

The Year in Review

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If asked what was the most significant thing to happen to the pop music world circa 2018, I’d have to point (once again) to the continued emergence of women artists in what has traditionally been a sausage party of an industry.

For better or worse, rock ‘n’ roll historically has been a boys’ club, with “girl groups” too often treated as offshoots or novelty acts by ignorant fans who can’t get their minds around the fact that what women say in music is as relevant — or more so — than anything men say. Still, if you polled the gazillion acts currently playing, recording and touring the world, you’d find most are populated by people identifying with the male gender.

That said, click on the top page of the Album of the Year website — a site that aggregates reviews from all over the internet — and you’ll find women slotted in eight of the top 10 spots of the highest rated albums of the year — Janelle Monae at No. 1, followed by Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Low (a trio that features Mimi Parker), Cardi B, Robyn, Christine and the Queens and that heartbreaker Ariana Grande (Pusha T came in at No. 6 while English punk act Idles was at No. 8).

The same holds true for indie as it does for pop. Over the past couple years, important women artists have dominated the world of college music. Add to the above list Snail Mail, Noname, Sophie, U.S. Girls, Julia Holter, Soccer Mommy, Waxahatchee, Natalie Prass, Neko Case, Courtney Barnett, Cat Power and supergroup boygenius, which brought together a trio of indie-rock royalty: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.

Our very own Saddle Creek Records has been riding this much-welcomed trend. The label, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, currently is enjoying a well-deserved resurgence, thanks in part to a fresh new roster of artists signed over the past couple years that includes the wildly popular Hop Along (fronted by Frances Quinlan), Stef Chura, Black Belt Eagle Scout (the project of singer/songwriter Katherine Paul), (Sarah Beth) Tomberlin and most successful of all, Big Thief, an act who counts among its primary songwriters Adrianne Lenker, who has seen the rerelease of her solo debut and new album Abysskiss, both on Saddle Creek.

Ask Saddle Creek if gender played a roll in their signing decisions, and they’d likely tell you no. In an era when gender fluidity is becoming more recognized, you may ask why it matters. Maybe it doesn’t; it certainly doesn’t to me. Good music is good music. But you’d have to have lived under a stone for the past 50 years to not recognize how overlooked and poorly treated women have been, not only by the music industry but the arts in general. To see women emerge as the dominant voice in music is a long time coming and hopefully will inspire a similar movement in other fields, not least of which is politics.

OK, so what about local indie music happenings in 2018? It was, for the most part, a year of expansion:

— The annual Maha Music Festival celebrated its 10-year anniversary by expanding to two days — adding an evening rock show headlined by classic indie act TV on the Radio. The expansion resulted in smashing the festival’s attendance numbers by pulling in a two-day audience of just over 14,000 — good enough to repeat the two-day format in 2019.

— One Percent Productions, the city’s most important concert promotion company, announced last January that it’s partnering with Kansas City’s Mammoth Productions to build a new indoor/outdoor music venue on South 84th Street. The La Vista City Council approved the measure, which, in addition to a 5,000-capacity outdoor amphitheater, will include a 2,400-capacity music hall. The multi-million dollar complex is slated to open in 2020. It joins both the Ralston and Baxter arenas, which have struggled to make a profit. Can the city support yet another massive venue?

— On a smaller scale but no less important (to me, anyway), One Percent purchased The Sydney in Benson, taking over the small club’s operations in August. The Sydney already has hosted indie phenoms Middle Kids, though most of its bookings likely will not be handled by One Percent Productions.

— Not to be outdone, the fine folks behind O’Leaver’s (which includes three members of legendary Saddle Creek Records band Cursive) announced in May they’re taking over operations at Winchester Bar & Grill at 7002 Q St. One assumes the acquisition had more to do with the volleyball courts than music, as there hasn’t been any indication they’ll book the kind of quality indie shows historically booked at O’Leaver’s.

— In October, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts received a $500,000 grant to establish a new sound art and experimental music residency program and named Omaha legacy singer/songwriter Simon Joyner to lead the program that will be housed in the old Bemis Underground space. But a week or so later, The Bemis changed its mind and said Joyner would not be leading the project. The decision came after a wave of concern was raised about Joyner, stemming from his use of “the N-word” in a song he wrote that targeted racists and racism in America, released in 2017. A replacement for Joyner has yet to be named.

Finally, for the first time this millennium, music revenue is growing again, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. And while streaming and digital downloads have had the lion’s share of that revenue, vinyl sales hit a 25-year high.

Despite this, what in just a few short years had become one of my favorite records stores — Almost Music in the Blackstone District — announced in mid-November that it’s closing its doors in early 2019. In many ways, the closing marks the end of an era that began in the ’90s with The Antiquarium Record Store, a gathering place that spawned the Omaha indie music scene. After Almost Music closes, where will the punks buy their records?

With that in mind, here are my 10 favorite albums of 2018, in no particular order:

David Nance Band, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (2018, Trouble in Mind)

David Nance Group, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (Trouble in Mind)
Natalie Prass, The Future and the Past (ATO)
Cursive, Vitriola (Saddle Creek)
Caroline Rose, Loner (New West)
J Mascis, Elastic Days (Sub Pop)
Parquet Courts, Wide Awake! (Rough Trade)
Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel (Matador)
Little Brazil, Send the Wolves (Max Trax)
Preoccupations, New Material (Jagjaguwar)
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Sparkle Hard (Matador)

This year I went to fewer rock shows than any year in the past 20. It seems despite having more venues than ever, there have been fewer national touring indie bands passing through Omaha than in recent memory. Another factor for my absence at the clubs is my increasing age, which has made it easier to remain sitting on the couch rather than going to the shows. That said, I still made it to around 50 concerts this year. Here are my favorites:

Destroyer at The Waiting Room, Feb. 3 — Frontman Dan Bejar was spot on vocally but looked tired and 10 years older than me rather than seven years younger, which he is.

Digital Leather at The Sydney, April 6, 2018. They play Sunday at O’Leaver’s.

Digital Leather at The Sydney, April 6 — Configured as a trio with Shawn Foree in front playing synth and bass, Greg Elsasser on synths and long-time Digital Leather drummer Jeff Lambelet, if the plan was to get the crowd dancing, it worked; maybe the most danceable version of DL yet.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Slowdown, May 18 — They ripped through new stuff and old, including a tasty version of “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” that had the crowd doing some overhead clapping.

La Luz at O’Leaver’s, May 28 —I watched from the sidelines as a band member crowd surfed to the bar, took a shot and disappeared back over the crowd to the stage — been a long time since anyone crowd-surfed at O’Leaver’s.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, June 1, 2018.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, June 1 — Featuring songs off their latest album, Send the Wolves, Little Brazil never sounded better, blasting out material that is as good as anything Desparecidos put out in its waning years.

Caroline Rose at Reverb, June 7— Rose performed with a goofy energy, backed by keyboardist/guitarist and a tight rhythm section that looked like they were having as much fun as the audience.

Closeness at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 10, 2018.

Closeness at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 10 — The duo of Todd and Orenda Fink had a better flow, enhanced by two new songs that were dramatic and danceable, breaking up the monotony of their usual mid-tempo onslaught.

Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17-18 — Day 1 was dominated by headliner TV on the Radio, who performed as if they released Dear Science last year. Day 2 was a Weezer concert, but it was Tune Yards, Father John Misty and David Nance who stole the show.

Black Belt Eagle Scout at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 26 — Singer/songwriter/guitarist Katherine Paul turned up the guitar, stabbed the pedals and roared on songs that would have made Neil Young proud.

Gary Numan at The Slowdown, Sept. 27, 2018.

Gary Numan at The Slowdown, Sept. 27 — There were questions as to whether Numan was singing at all. The tale of the tape came 10 songs in when the band performed “Cars,” a faithful arrangement where Numan couldn’t have been lip-synching (could he?).

Young Jesus at O’Leavers, Oct. 28 — The high point was the 20-minute set closer, “Gulf,” whose center section consisted of a free jazz improvisational noise collage that bent back into the opening chords.

David Nance Group at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13 — Omaha’s most promising band seamlessly transitioned from one song to the next from their new album, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, with Nance pulling off one feedback wave and blending in a riff that crossed over into whatever was next. Transcendent.

Protomartyr at The Waiting Room, Dec. 7, 2018.

Protomartyr/Preoccupations at The Waiting Room, Dec. 7 — Protomartyr frontman Joe Casey did his usual awesome shtick, but Preoccupations was next level. The band came out with guitars blazing before working in synths three songs in, transporting the club into a New Wave arena.

Middle Kids at The Sydney, Dec. 8 —Frontwoman Hannah Joy channeled Natalie Merchant while the sold-out audience crowded the stage and sang along to the hits, proving that The Sydney could become Omaha’s next important concert venue.

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Lazy-i Best of 2018

Relive the year gone by with the  Lazy-i Best of 2018 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: David Nance Group, Courtney Barnett, Sextile, boygenius, Natalie Prass, Azure Ray, J Mascis, Caroline Rose, Parquet Courts, Little Brazil, Cursive and lots more. The full track listing is here, or listen on Spotify.

Or enter to win a copy of the CD. Enter to win one in the annual drawing! To enter, either: 1) Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Let me know you want one via Facebook comments, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet (If you use social media and win, I’ll reach out later for your mailing address). Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 7 at midnight.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

See Through Dresses, David Nance Band, Sucettes tonight; Criteria, Little Brazil, Sean Pratt/Sweats Saturday; Jake Bellows Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:15 pm December 28, 2018

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2017. The band returns to The Waiting Room this Saturday.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another long weekend… of shows! All of them local acts, but great local acts. Here we go:

Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of See Through Dresses. It’s going on two years since Horse of the Other World came out on Tiny Engines. The band plans to unveil new material tonight. Come see what they’ve been up to. No Thanks opens at 9 p.m. $10.

Meanwhile across town tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s y’all get another chance to see David Nance Group. Like I said a couple days ago, no two Nance sets are the same — expect some surprises. Joining them are Sucettes (Dave Goldberg and Co.) and CMB. $5, 10 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Criteria returns to The Waiting Room. The band has been working on new material destined for a 2019 release (the scuttlebutt is it’ll be on 15 Passenger). Joining them is Little Brazil, whose 2018 release Send the Wolves (Max Trax Records) made it onto my list of favorite 2018 releases (which you’ll see in the January issue of The Reader or online here Monday). Bokr Tov opens at 9 p.m. $8.

Meanwhile, back over at O’Leaver’s Saturday night, Sean Pratt & the Sweats plays with And How and Stathi. $5, 10 p.m.

The marquee show Sunday night is Jake Bellows at Slowdown Jr. One assumes the Californian is back in town visiting family and figured ‘why not do a show while I’m here?‘ Why not indeed. Joining him is McCarthy Trenching. $8, 8 p.m.

And that’s all I got for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section.

I’ll be posting the annual Music Year in Review article on New Year’s Eve, which includes the usual list of favorite releases, favorite live shows, etc. Then on New Year’s Day look for my annual Predictions story. Both of these also will be in the January issue of The Reader (but who knows when that’ll hit the racks?…).

Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i