It’s another Bandcamp Friday (and there’s loads of local stuff to buy/download)…

Category: Blog — @ 1:24 pm February 5, 2021

You should know the drill by now — Bandcamp is waiving fees for download purchases from its platform today only so artists can pocket more revenue. A lot of record labels are joining in on the deal as well, so there’s never been a better time to purchase a download of that album or song that you’ve been listening to on Spotify or Apple Music.

There haven’t been a lot of new local releases since my “Soundtrack to a Pandemic” list from this past December, but here are a few:

— Problems — Darren Keen’s new project — has a new single out called “Dog is Love” that you should check out here (especially if you love dogs).

— McCarthy Trenching’s new one, Perfect Game, is a winner. Check it out here.

— Check out the new Hartford/Focht LP that came out on Christmas right here.

— Shaun the Loud just dropped a new EP called 3, right here.

And here’s that list of favorites from 2020 again. Go out and get some!

Jack McLaughlin, “Madyssen Is So Quick to Sin” b/w “Rained all Summer Long” — Released Jan. 23, the A-side features guests Conor Oberst and Shawn Foree.
Buy/download/listen: https://jackieboymac.bandcamp.com/album/madyssen-is-so-quick-to-sin

Criteria, Years (2020, 15 Passenger) — The band’s first album since 2005’s When We Break (Saddle Creek), it absolutely rocks.
Buy/download/listen: https://criteriane.bandcamp.com/album/years

InDreama, “Poison House” — Four minutes of bouncy psych-rock candy from Nik Fackler and Co.
Buy/download/listen: https://dereckhiggins.bandcamp.com/track/poison-house-by-indreama

Relax, It’s Science, Now It’s Your Problem (2020, self-release) — The debut album by the double-bass-attack punkers.
Buy/download/listen: https://relaxitsscience.bandcamp.com/album/now-its-your-problem

Death Cow, Pioneer (2020, self-release) — The songs’ harmony vocals and power-chord riffs are pure ’90s FM rock territory.
Buy/download/listen: https://deathcow.bandcamp.com/album/pioneer

Magū, Renovate (2020, self-release) — A refined psych-rock experience that borders on prog rock.
Buy/download/listen: https://magumusic.bandcamp.com/album/renovate

Twinsmith, “Dreamer” — Second single on their new label, Silver Street.
Buy/download/listen: https://twinsmith.bandcamp.com

Win/Win, Home (2020, self-release) – 4-song EP of sing-along indie.
Buy/download/listen: https://winslashwin.bandcamp.com/album/home

Joan App, “Beautiful Machines” — Joe Knapp (Son, Ambulance) returns with a one-off that left us wanting more.
Buy/download/listen: https://joanapp.bandcamp.com/track/beautiful-machines

Simon Joyner, Some Only Let the Jukebox Hear Them Weep (2020, Grapefruit) — A 2014 live set recorded in Phoenix, just one of many releases from Joyner in 2020.
Buy/download/listen: https://simonjoyner.bandcamp.com/album/some-only-let-the-jukebox-hear-them-weep-live-in-phoenix-2014

The Sunks, “Dear Judy” – First song from a never-released album.
Buy/download/listen: https://thesunksband.bandcamp.com/releases

Supermoon, Half Country (2020, Majestic Litter) — (Former) Omahan Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) and Morgan Nagler of Whispertown. Gorgeous.
Buy/download/listen: https://majesticlitter.bandcamp.com/album/half-country/

Big Nope, Back to You (2020, self-release) — See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet steps out on this rocking 3-song EP.
Buy/download/listen: https://bignopebignope.bandcamp.com/album/back-to-you-ep

Nathan Ma, “Blue Bird”— One of my favorite tracks of the year, produced by David Nance.
Buy/download/listen: https://nathanma.bandcamp.com/track/blue-bird

Mike Schlesinger, Live at The Sydney (2020, self-release) — A bright spot streamed live during spring’s COVID misery.
Buy/download/listen: https://thesydneybenson.bandcamp.com/album/mike-schlesinger-live-at-the-sydney

Pagan Athletes, Live at the DN (2020, self-release) – A sonic acid trip from the Wolf Brothers, Griffin and Nathan.
Buy/download/listen: https://paganathletes.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-dn

Eddy Mink, Open Container Heart Surgery (2020, self-release) — Pedal-steel fueled indie rock sung with grit, heart and soul by Kerry Eddy.
Buy/download/listen: https://eddymink.bandcamp.com/

Jack Hotel, A Town Called Hesitation (2020, Sower Records) — Acoustic C&W by way of Lincoln, NE.
Buy/download/listen: https://jackhotel.bandcamp.com/album/a-town-called-hesitation

Dereck Higgins, DHX (2020, self-release) – One of six 2020 releases of electronic club music by the Omaha legend.
Buy/download/listen: https://dereckhiggins.bandcamp.com/album/d-h-x

Digital Leather, New Wave Gold (2020, No Coast) — The 24th full-length album released by Digital Leather (Shawn Foree) over 20 years, and one of his best.
Buy/download/listen: https://nocoastrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/new-wave-gold

Benny Leather, Temporary Insanity (2020, FDH Records) — Electro-punk debut LP features Modern Love’s Chandra Moskowitz (yes, the world famous chef!) and Thick Paint’s Sarah Bohling.
Buy/download/listen: https://fdhrecords.bandcamp.com/album/temporary-insanity-2

DÉSIR, Solar (2020, self-release) — Layered, dense ambient electronic songs from Omaha.
Buy/download/listen: https://queenofwands.bandcamp.com/album/solar

Uh Oh, Joe and Mari Sing the Hits (2020, self-release) — Includes covers of songs by Alex G, Waxahatchee, Better Oblivion Community Center and Joe Frusciante.
Buy/download/listen: https://uhoh.bandcamp.com/album/joe-mari-sing-the-hits

The World, The World (unreleased tracks – 1990) (2020, self-release) — Long-lost vault tracks featuring members of Digital Sex (Stephen Sheehan) and Mousetrap.
Buy/download/listen: https://stephensheehan.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-unreleased-tracks-1990

Bright Eyes, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (2020, Dead Ocean) — This first new Bright Eyes recording since 2011 will be remembered as a pandemic event.
Buy/download/listen: https://brighteyes.bandcamp.com/album/down-in-the-weeds-where-the-world-once-was

No Thanks, Submerger (2020, Black Site Records) – Debut on KC label Black Site by self-proclaimed Omaha “goth punks.” Essential.
Buy/download/listen: https://no-thanks.bandcamp.com/album/submerger

Koso, “The Potential of Getting Violent” — Protest song of pure rage over the James Scurlock homicide pulls no punches.
Buy/download/listen: https://koso.bandcamp.com/track/the-potential-of-getting-violent

McCarthy Trenching, Perfect Game (2020, self-release) — The 10-song LP has all of Dan McCarthy’s storytelling charm.
Buy/download/listen: https://mccarthytrenching.bandcamp.com/album/perfect-game

Stephen Sheehan, “Thanks for Living — Quiet, powerful new track by former Digital Sex frontman.
Buy/download/listen: https://stephensheehan.bandcamp.com/track/thanks-for-living

STATHI, “Her Memoir” – Omaha singer/songwriter Stathi Spiros Patseas’ first release since debut EP Life of Compromise.
Buy/download/listen: https://stathi.bandcamp.com/album/post-truth-ep

James McMann, I’m On My Way (2020, self-release) —Funk by the former Grasshopper Takeover bassist.
Buy/download/listen: https://jamesmcmann1.bandcamp.com/album/im-on-my-way

Steady Wells, “Good Again” — Jordan Smith of Twinsmith; good time indie rock.
Buy/download/listen: https://steadywells.bandcamp.com/track/good-again

Those Far Out Arrows, Fill Yer Cup (2020, self-release) — More modern takes on classic psych rock styles that recall BRMC and Them.
Buy/download/listen: https://thosefaroutarrows.bandcamp.com/album/fill-yer-cup

The Laces, Wooden Change (2020, Mighty Feeble Records) — A “best of” collection of bedroom pop from Doug Kabourek’s pre-Fizzle Like a Flood project.
Buy/download/listen: https://mightyfeeble.bandcamp.com/album/mf58-wooden-change-the-best-of-the-laces

Anna McClellan, I Saw First Light (2020, Father/Daughter) — The follow-up to her 2018 debut Yes and No.
Buy/download/listen: https://annamcclellan.bandcamp.com/album/i-saw-first-light

James Schroeder, Mesa Buoy (2020, self-release) — David Nance sideman/guitarist extraordinaire cooks his own dinner on this stunning debut.
Buy/download/listen: https://jamesschroeder.bandcamp.com/album/mesa-buoy

Ethan Jones, McMcCartney (2020, self-release) — Ladyfinger/Dumb Beach guitarist’s homemade rock anthems seethe and sizzle.
Buy/download/listen: https://ethanjones.bandcamp.com/releases

David Nance, Staunch Honey (2020, Trouble In Mind) — Follow-up to 2018 break-out LP Peaced and Slightly Pulverized features a stripped-down, soulful sound.
Buy/download/listen: https://davidnance.bandcamp.com/album/staunch-honey

Problems, Ought Not Be Overthought (2020, Knightwerk Records) — Infectious electronic club music by Darren Keen (The Show Is the Rainbow).
Buy/download/listen: https://knightwerk.bandcamp.com/album/ought-not-be-overthought

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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When Will Live Music Return? (in the column); Saddle Creek signs Spirit of the Beehive…

Category: Blog — @ 1:51 pm February 3, 2021
The message on The Slowdown’s east-facing marquee says it all…

In this month’s issue of The Reader, I ask Marc Leibowitz (One Percent Productions, The Waiting Room), Jason Kulbel (The Slowdown) and Eric Dimenstein (Ground Control Touring) when live music will return to our stages — or at least to the stages at venues I frequent.

The good news our most important stages for indie music seem to be weathering the COVID-19 storm. The bad news is we’ve still got a long ways to go before we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder at a club watching a touring indie band.

Read the article right here at The Reader website. Or pick up a copy of the printed version wherever you pick up copies of printed stuff.

. * * * .

This morning our hometown label Saddle Creek Records announced it signed “Philadelphia shape-shifting band” Spirit of the Beehive. The band’s Creek debut LP, Entertainment, Death, is slated for release April 9.

From the press release:

The newly modified 3-piece (founding members Zack Schwartz and Rivka Ravede are now joined by new member Corey Wichlin), an adjustment that better suits the new record’s musical stylings, engaged in an entirely different writing process than their past records. Where their breakout Hypnic Jerks was recorded in a week, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH was planned and plotted over the period of four months; a dangerous amount of time for a band whose attention to detail is exceptional, allowing for their most focused and exploratory work to date. ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH is also the first to be entirely self-recorded and produced by the band giving a wider periphery and deeper scope into their intricate pop genius, a view unlike any SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE record that has come before.”

Check out the first single, “There’s Nothing You Can’t Do,” below, and pre-order the LP right 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

McCarthy Trenching makes Christgau’s Dean’s List 2020…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:30 pm January 27, 2021

This is kind of a follow-up to the review Robert Christgau posted a few weeks ago (and I mentioned here). The grandmaster of music critics gave McCarthy Trenching’s latest album, Perfect Game, an A- grade in his January Consumer Guide.

Christgau’s year-end list used to be part of the Pass and Jop year-end music coverage at the Village Voice — something he wrote from 1975 to 2005. This morning Christgau published his “Dean’s List” of the “71 best albums of the last year (or so)” and Perfect Game came in at No. 24, between Ashley McBryde’s Never Will at No. 23 and 75 Dollar Bill Little Big Band’s Live at Tubby’s at No. 25. It should be noted that No. 1 was Hanging Tree Guitars, which I’ve never heard of. Run the Jewel’s RTJ4 came in at No. 2.

Making Christgau’s year-end list was always kind of a big deal and still is today. Check out the list online here and congrat’s, Mr. McCarthy.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Sunks drop new LP; new Ohtis/Stef Chura (Saddle Creek); Teenage Fanclub…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:23 pm January 26, 2021
Ohtis in springtime? Photo by Andrew Remdenok.

Talk about your boring January’s, there’s just not a whole heckova lot going on. Next week I’ll be posting my February column in The Reader, which has some reporting about when we can expect to see live music return to Omaha. Spoiler alert: It’s gonna be awhile until any tours come passing through, but there’s hope for the future…

. * * * .

Omaha indie band The Sunks dropped their debut full-length, Wedding Season, today on Bandcamp. The 13-song LP was recorded at ARC by Adam Roberts. “Wedding Season marks the band’s debut album after playing in town for nearly six years,” says the site. “The album is a reflection of the myriad influences the band has and results in a finished product featured a variety of songs that can be enjoyed by any listener.” Check it out!

. * * * .

This morning Saddle Creek Records announced the next installment in its 7-inch “Document” series will feature Illinois trio Ohtis, with special guest vocals by Stef Chura. “Schatze” b/w “Failure” is slated to come out on 7-inch vinyl Feb. 26, but the amusing video for the A-side dropped today.

From the release: “‘Schatze’ was mixed by Collin Dupuis (Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, St. Vincent) and it follows the release of Ohtis’ critically acclaimed 2019 debut album Curve of Earth, which was released via Full Time Hobby.” Ohtis was formed nearly 20 years ago, but went into a 15-year hiatus, according to the announcement. Check out the video below and pre-order the single right here.

. * * * .

And all you oldsters will love to know that Teenage Fanclub is releasing its next full-length, Endless Arcade, April 3 on Merge Records. The band released the next single from the album, “I’m More Inclined,” this morning, along with European tour dates (September in the UK, and a larger Euro tour in 2022).

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Hi-Fi House closes, will leave Blackstone; new Hand Habits (Saddle Creek)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:08 pm January 19, 2021
Tears of Silver, a band fronted by The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, performed at Hi-Fi House on Oct. 2, 2017.

Last Thursday the Hi-Fi House account on Facebook posted that the members-only listening club and vinyl vault will be “going on hiatus effective immediately until this pandemic subsides for good.”

Located on the corner of 37th and Farnam, Hi-Fi House has been closed for almost a year and is giving up its Blackstone location with hopes of returning elsewhere sometime in the future, according to the post.

The brainchild of Kate Dussault, Hi-Fi House opened its listening room back in 2016 boasting high-end audio stations used for spinning a dazzling collection of vinyl, with records counting in the tens of thousands. In addition to hosting educational music labs and listening parties, the space hosted a number of live performances.

The first question that popped into my mind when I heard the news was what will happen with that massive vinyl collection? Dussault said the answer is being discussed now and storage options are being considered, including a satellite operation that utilizes parts of the collection. Stay tuned.

. * * * .

Saddle Creek Records today announced it’s releasing a new 2-song EP by Hand Habits, a.k.a. Meg Duffy, titled Dirt. Co-produced by Sasami Ashworth and Kyle Thomas (King Tuff), Dirt hits the streets Feb. 19. The first track of the 2-song EP, “4th of July,” dropped this morning on YouTube via the following video. Pre-order the EP 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

McCarthy Trenching gets A- from the dean of music critics; new Sunks track…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 3:34 pm January 13, 2021
McCarthy Trenching, Perfect Game (2020, self release)

Long-time Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau is still writing reviews, these days via a Substack newsletter account (you can subscribe here). The subscription includes his monthly “Consumer Guide” reviews, and the January edition includes a glowing review of McCarthy Trenching’s latest LP, Perfect Game.

Said Christgau:

Alerted by Phoebe Bridgers’s cover of this ‘band’’s ‘Christmas Song,’ I spent a fine little Spotify morning checking out all 57 of Dan McCarthy’s entries. These date back to 2007 with the band part mostly theoretical—guitar strummer McCarthy doubles on the piano that dominates here and has hooked up with a bassist who I presume inflected the horn arrangements that add welcome color to his latest and most impressive tunes—most of which, to be clear, truly are tunes. McCarthy sings clear, mild, droll, calculated, casual and writes clever and inventive without ever overwhelming his offhand affect—the many laugh lines are more chuckle lines. ‘Why Don’t I See You Anymore’ devotes single lines and whole stanzas to 16 reasons before ‘Phaethon’ modernizes Greek mythology. ‘Red Maple’ and ‘Russian Olive’ chronicle dead trees. ‘I Didn’t Come to Town to Get a Haircut’ is something his uncle used to say only by the time Dan finally gets around to it the town doesn’t even have a barber. And that’s only the half of it. A MINUS

Christgau has been writing reviews since the ’60s and is my all-time favorite music critic. It’s a joy to see him recognize a local boy.

BTW, he wasn’t so glowing with Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, in which he said: “If articulated depression is what you crave, does she have lyrical and musical detail for you—philosophical solace or melodic relief, no (“I See You,” “Graceland Too”) **

The ** rating is an honorable mention on the Christgau scale.

Read the entire January Consumer Guide here.

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Omaha indie band The Sunks’ have a new album coming out next Tuesday. The band consists of frontman Sean Paul on guitar/vocals, Ben Volkman on lead guitar; Adam O’Connell on bass and Kevin Kelly on drums. Here’s the first single, “The Sunks Song.”

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Hartford/Focht, Whipkey, Lightning Junkyard, Shaun the Loud; #BSSF?…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:03 pm January 8, 2021
Hartford/Focht have a new record.

I’ve been waiting all week to write about these releases because I thought we were coming up on another Bandcamp Friday, but it turns out that Bandcamp is skipping January and relaunching the promo in February. Why skip January? Who knows. Regardless, I can’t wait another month to write about these new tracks and releases, so…

First up is the new one by Hartford/Focht. The core of the band is the singing duo of Matt Focht and Crystal Hartford, but as Matt said in a super-long IM in Facebook, “Our band is basically backed up by Head of Femur and Ben Armstrong’s father on piano and organ. (We) also had special guests like the Mike Mogis and the Fink sisters.” Sort of an indie folk supergroup if you ask me.

The self-titled album was recorded and mixed in Omaha this past November at The Library and ARC by Adam Roberts, and mastered by Dan Dietrich at Wall to Wall in Chicago. In addition to originals by Focht, there’s renditions of songs by Lowell George, Rick Roberts, Laura Nyro, Larry Murray, Al Kooper and Bob Dylan (“I Shall Be Released”). The whole album has an early ’70s Laurel Canyon vibe, thanks in part to Hartford’s Joni-esque vocals and the overall arrangements.

Wherein I like the covers, the originals really shine, like “Chico Hot Springs,” “Standing in the Light” and “Capitol Sunset.” Check it out here on their Bandcamp page and buy a download. It’s also at the usual streaming services.

. * * *.

It’s been awhile since we heard from Matt Whipkey. There have been trials. There have been tribulations. And coming out of all that is a new album due later this year.

I wrote and recorded an entire new album throughout the course of this last year / quarantine. The tracks were completed via email with my good friends and collaborators Scott Gaeta and Ian Aeillo. When I thought it was finished it was screaming for something more.”

Here’s an early sneak peek – a track actually written back in 2016, long before the troubles. Best sounding Whipkey track I think I’ve heard. So yeah, Whipkey’s back.

. * * * .

What do you get when you mix broken-bottle country with an Omaha punk superstar? You get Lightning Stills and Junkyard Dan on the new track, “Passed Out on the Bar.”

Lightning Stills is Craig Fort (actually a punk dude in in his own right), while Junkyard Dan is Dan Maxwell of Little Brazil and Leafblower fame. I think this is the first time I really heard DMax’s vocals in all their glory. Yeah, he’s sung on plenty of albums, but the mix and the contrast with Fort make his vox stand out like never before.

This one comes with a video that’s pretty weird, actually. Can’t wait to see these two on an Omaha stage.

. * * * .

Finally, Shaun the Loud sent an email to me out of the blue and I’m glad he did. I hadn’t heard of him, though he released an album on the late Eric Medley’s Tremulant Records last year. Shaun the Loud is Shaun Sparks. And while 2019’s Galaxy Particles was a twangy singer/songwriter band-driven collection, Sparks has gone almost all digital on this new one, thanks, in part, to the pandemic.

The result, the self-released Cosmic Barbecue, sounds like a dance album sung by one of Glen Campbell’s sidemen. Sparks said his teenage kids along with a few contributors, including a handful of players, Christopher Steffen, who mixed the album, and Doug Van Sloun, “encouraged the electronic thing.”

The original concept of the project was to make dance music but it took a life of its own from there, mainly because Idk how to make that and I’m normally into songwriting, so that’s why there’s more emphasis on beats, synth and bass lines rather than the more songwriter-y structure in the previous release,” he said.

Call it a singer/songwriter electronic dance music, if you will, and definitely worth checking out, but not on Bandcamp. Sparks’ albums are released on Distrokid, which includes every streaming service but Bandcamp.

. * * * .

It’s the second Friday of the month and you know what that means — Blackstone Second Friday or #BSSF.

Well, I don’t know if #BSSF is a thing yet, but maybe we can get the ball rolling, especially tonight when The Little Gallery Blackstone hosts an opening reception featuring the works of artist Jeanne Pittack. Titled “Heimweh,” the show features Pittack’s black-and-white photography.

It’s the first new opening at the new Little Gallery space in Blackstone, located at 144. So. 39th St., which is inside the Blackstone Mansion just east of Night Owl. The show runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and admission is free. Masks are required, as is social distancing, and there’s a 5-person limit inside The Little Gallery. See you there.

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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Music Visions for 2021: A look forward (and backward) at the Omaha and national indie music scenes…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 1:25 pm January 4, 2021
Music visions for 2021.

It’s time to gaze into my crystal Peavey Amp and tell you what’s going to happen in the music world in 2021, but before I do (as I do every year), I’ll first look back at last year’s predictions. Only a stark-raving lunatic could have foreseen the rise of COVID-19 and its dreadful impact on the music industry. And yet… Let’s take a look:

2020 Prediction: One or two Omaha music venues will shut down permanently this year, while “those in charge” will begin to second-guess the proposed $109 million Omaha Performing Arts concert venue.

Reality: The Lookout Lounge and Barley Street Tavern both closed their doors, and rumor has it there’s some head-scratching going on over the OPA concert venue. Of course a pandemic played a role in both those predictions coming true…

2020 Prediction: A former Omaha Girls Rock student will break through in her own band on our local stages.

Reality: No one broke through on any stage in 2020.

2020 Prediction: In an effort to retain local talent, a new local nonprofit will form that will financially subsidize local musicians, their recording projects and their tours.

Reality: The only way this is going to happen is if I do it myself with Susie Buffett’s money.

2020 Prediction: The popularity of cassettes as a consumer format will continue as more artists choose to release new recordings on tape.

Reality: By July 2020, there was a 103 percent increase in cassette sales in the UK; still, cassette sales comprise less that 1 percent of the overall music market.

2020 Prediction: A major concert will be organized to bring out the vote in Nebraska’s 2nd District, which could play an important role in keeping Trump out of office.

Reality: NE2 did swing for Biden even if the pandemic prevented huge Democratic rallies in Omaha and elsewhere.

2020 Prediction: Despite capturing big sponsorships, Maha will not book a Lizzo-sized headliner this year, instead opting to spend more money on high-end bands across both festival nights.

Reality: The Maha Festival didn’t happen (but having seen the proposed line-up that was never made public, the prediction was spot on).

2020 Prediction: “The trend of booking fewer touring indie bands at Omaha venues will continue. We’ll be lucky to get one A-list indie show per month.”

Reality: When you’re right, you’re right.

2020 Prediction: We’ll all be singing “Deacon Blues” in 2020.

Reality: Donald Fagen did not join Walter Becker last year, though we all were singing the blues.

2020 Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about next year: Algiers, Bright Eyes, Criteria, Perfume Genius, King Krule, David Nance Band, The War on Drugs.

Reality: All released albums in 2020 despite the pandemic, but we’re still waiting on those new ones by Beach House, Kendrick Lamar, Slowdive and St. Vincent.

2020 Prediction: Conor Oberst will finally walk across the Saturday Night Live stage.

Reality: Here I thought, at the very least, Conor would make a cameo alongside Phoebe Bridgers. Nope.

Final score: Around 50/50, with help from a national pandemic. So what about 2021? As shitty as 2020 was, things will only get better, but…

Prediction: Vaccinating enough people where it feels safe to go to concerts again will take a lot longer than anyone expects. The Waiting Room, Reverb Lounge and The Slowdown all will begin booking touring bands again beginning in July. O’Leaver’s will plug in the amps in early fall, alongside The Brothers Lounge.

Prediction: The Maha Music Festival will be back in late summer, though we’ll all still be wearing masks and social distancing (sort of). On the other hand, South By Southwest, which takes place in March, will remain a digital-only affair.

Prediction: As of this writing (Dec. 16), Save Our Stages legislation as part of a revised CARES Act has not passed, but it will pass eventually, only to be followed by a Save Our Stages II Act.

Prediction: Despite federal SOS and CARES Act money finally flowing, venues will continue to go out of business (including a major Omaha player) because gun-shy audiences still fearing COVID-19 will drag their feet before returning to the clubs.

Prediction: Under pressure from some very large artists, streaming services (and labels) will be forced to look at how they’re compensating talent, considering streaming revenues increased 21 percent in 2019 vs. the previous year, while Spotify now boasts 320 million monthly active users as of Sept. 30.

Prediction: After a year of ordering stuff online, shoppers will rush back to brick-and-mortars post pandemic, and record stores are going to be one of the big beneficiaries. Watch them enjoy their biggest 3rd and 4th quarter sales in years.

Prediction: One bi-product of the pandemic — live-streamed rock shows — will become a new revenue generator for bands and venues who learned how to properly produce and monetize online events. Look for venues to offer streaming tickets right alongside live show tickets on a regular basis.

Prediction: Home recording was already a thing, but after spending a year stuck at home, bands and musicians have honed their skills. Look for more home-recorded releases in 2021, though formal studios will be plenty busy servicing the big stars who have been holding their water throughout the prior year.

Prediction: While there was a surprising number of albums released in 2020, watch the floodgates burst this year, as artists rush to release recordings they’ve held onto until they could return to the road.

Prediction: Bob Dylan won’t be missing that song catalog he just sold to Universal after this year.

Prediction: Bands and performers we’ll be talking about this time next year: Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, The Faint, The Good Life, David Nance, Courtney Barnett, Little Brazil, Nick Cave, The National, Angel Olson, Modest Mouse, Phoebe Bridgers and U2.

Prediction: I’ve given up on my annual “Conor Oberst on SNL” prediction, which almost guarantees this is the year it’ll happen.

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.

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Lazy-i Best of 2020 Compilation

Relive the year gone by with the  Lazy-i Best of 2020 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: Waxahatchee, David Nance, Bright Eyes, Digital Leather, Sufjan Stevens, Run the Jewels, Fiona Apple, Nathan Ma, Criteria, McCarthy Trenching, HAIM, Future Islands, No Thanks and lots more.

To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. Hurry, contest deadline is TONIGHT, Monday, Jan. 4, at midnight.

Or listen on Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i Best of” in Spotify, go to the Playlists tab, and you’ll find the 2020 playlist along with a few from past years, too!

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

2020 Music Year in Review: A look back at the year that wasn’t (trends,favorite albums, live shows)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:11 am December 31, 2020
Lazy-i 2020 Music Year in Review

Before I began writing this annual music year in review article, I glanced back at last year’s reflections on 2019. It was mostly gripes. Music sales have dried up. Touring has become an expensive, money-losing proposition. And with the constant exodus of talent moving away from Omaha, who was going to play on all these stages (with even more planned in the coming years)? I even complained about the lack of quality touring indie bands coming through town.

Oh woe is us.

After the year we’ve just been through, you have to laugh at those comments. What spoiled, entitled, jaded brats we’d become. We didn’t know how good we had it. Well, we know now.

The Year of Our Lord 2020 — the Year of COVID-19 — needs no explanation to any of you. We each have our own pandemic story. You were lucky if you weren’t struggling to stay alive or to keep someone alive or to pay your rent or feed yourself and your family.

You were lucky if being bored was on top of your list of worries. That said, life without live music — for those us who love it — can be pretty boring.

I miss it. To the point where, when I watch concert footage online or on TV and see the shots of dark, crowded clubs or jam-packed arenas filled with maskless faces, I literally am in awe, and wonder if it will ever be like that again.

It will be. Eventually.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all this it’s how much live music and the local music scene has become part of my personal identity — the music, the bands, the venues and, above all, the people. How strange it is to lose it, if only for a year. How much more strange it must be for those who make a living from it.

They could have sat home alone and pouted, but instead musicians and venue owners looked for ways out of the darkness, and will emerge from the pandemic stronger for it.

NIVA

For the first time, live music entrepreneurs joined together — more than 2,900 independent music venues and promoters — to form the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). Their mission: To lobby Congress to pass legislation that provides recovery funds and tax credits to help venues survive the pandemic.

Their message throughout has been that independent venues were the first to close and will be the last to fully reopen. Their dire warning is that 90 percent of independent venues will close permanently over the course of the coming months without federal funding.

In fact, so far two Omaha venues have closed permanently at least in part due to necessary COVID-19 clampdowns — The Lookout Lounge on 72nd Street and The Barley Street Tavern in Benson — and more may be on the verge of falling off the financial cliff. Club owners from The Slowdown, The Waiting Room and O’Leaver’s have been among the most vocal local members of NIVA pushing since this summer for legislation and asking their patrons to write lawmakers and prod them to sign on to Save Our Stages legislation.

Ingenuity

Meanwhile, artists found new ways to stay engaged with their audiences. Within months of the national shut-downs and tour cancellations, bands began to take to the internet for live-streamed performances. Suddenly Zoom sessions — as quiet and distant as they felt — became the new normal.

Without income from live performances, some artists turned to Patreon, an online platform that connects musicians with fans by offering membership tiers that provide perks such as premium content and early exclusive access to new work, all for a monthly fee. Among the artists with Patreon accounts are Ben Folds, Circa Survive and ’80s indie legend Lloyd Cole, whose offerings include everything from private-streamed concerts to online guitar lessons.

Despite being sidelined from performing, 2020 still ended up being another strong year for new releases from both a national and local indie perspective. Last month, The Reader published links to more than 40 Nebraska-based artists who released new music during the pandemic, all available on the usual streaming services as well as Bandcamp, the online digital music store that has become the central marketplace for new and independent bands.

Which brings us to my list of favorite albums of 2020. Here they are, in no particular order:

Waxahatchee, Saint Cloud (Merge)

David Nance, Staunch Honey (Trouble in Mind)

Christian Lee Hutson, Beginners (Anti)

Nation of Language, Introduction, Presence (self release)

Porridge Radio, Every Bad (Secretly Canadian)

Criteria, Years (15 Passenger)

No Thanks, Submerger (Black Site)

Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher (Dead Oceans)

Sufjan Stevens, The Ascension (Asthmatic Kitty)

Disq, Collector (Saddle Creek)

HAIM, Women in Music Pt. III (Columbia)

Digital Leather, New Wave Gold (No Coast)

Those Far Out Arrows, Fill Yer Cup (self release)

Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death (Partisan)

Bright Eyes, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (Dead Oceans)

This is where I usually list my favorite live performances from the past year. It would be unfair to forget the concerts that took place before COVID-19, such as:

Susto at Slowdown Jr., Feb. 24, 2020.

Susto at Slowdown Jr., Feb. 24 — A night of story-telling rock reminiscent of the late, great Jim Croce.

PUP and Screaming Females at The Waiting Room, March 4 — PUP’s Stefan Babcock remarked that the set was a disaster, but it sure sounded great from where I stood, and certainly the fist-pump-fueled crowd loved it.

PUP was the last live show I saw before the pandemic. I was all set to see Nap Eyes at The Waiting Room March 15, but it was cancelled along with everything else — including this year’s Maha Music Festival — as one by one venues closed down beginning in March.

Favorite livestream performances included Mike Schlesinger and Rebecca Lowry streamed from The Sydney March 27; No Thanks, Little Brazil and Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship streamed live from The Slowdown May 21 and 23, and Glow in the Dark streamed live from Low End at the Bemis Nov. 12.

And How at Petfest, Aug. 15, 2020.

And there were a couple outdoor concerts — Petfest Aug. 15 behind Petshop in Benson, featuring killer socially distanced performances by And How and Those Far Out Arrows; and Slowdown’s 3-day outdoor festival held in the parking lot behind the club Oct. 1-3.

I even snuck into one indoor live club show when local bands Dead Letters and Las Cruxes played at the newly remodeled Reverb Lounge Sept. 19. But that was it. By the time fall came ’round, live indie rock shows evaporated as everyone hunkered down for the next wave of COVID-19.

As I write this in mid-December, a second vaccine is being approved by the FDA, and shots are being fired into arms of healthcare professionals and first responders throughout the country. They’ll eventually get to your arm, too, and masks will become a thing of the past, but now I’m getting into 2021 predictions, and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for more of those.

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Lazy-i Best of 2020 Compilation

Relive the year gone by with the  Lazy-i Best of 2020 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: Waxahatchee, David Nance, Bright Eyes, Digital Leather, Sufjan Stevens, Run the Jewels, Fiona Apple, Nathan Ma, Criteria, McCarthy Trenching, HAIM, Future Islands, No Thanks and lots more.

To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 4, at midnight.

Or listen on Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i Best of” in Spotify, go to the Playlists tab, and you’ll find the 2020 playlist along with a few from past years, too!

* * *

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lazy-i Best of 2020 compilation CD track list; So-So Sailors return from sea (with a new song)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 7:30 am December 28, 2020
Lazy-i Best of 2020 compilation CD

It’s the last week of the year and that means the beginning of the end. Let’s kick it off by announcing the annual Lazy-i Best of 2020 compilation CD track list.

Regular readers of the blog know I’ve been putting together this compilation since the website went live in ’98 (and even before that). It started as a cassette comp, and when home CD burners became affordable (or, should I say, when I could afford one), it switched to a CD (back in ’99, the first CD cover featured a live photo taken at a Dismemberment Plan concert at Sokol Underground).

The comp consists of the best tracks from artists I’ve written about in Lazy-i or The Reader throughout the year. About half the tracks are from Nebraskans. Despite the pandemic, it’s been a damn good year for new music.

Anyway, here’s the Lazy-i Best of 2020 tracklist:

  1. “Can’t Do Much” – Waxahatchee (Merge)
  2. “The Merchandise” – David Nance (Trouble in Mind)
  3. “Snake in My Basement” – Those Far Out Arrows (self release)
  4. “Mariana Trench” – Bright Eyes (Dead Ocean)
  5. “Hot Water Rising” – No Thanks (Black Site)
  6. “Compass” – Digital Leather (No Coast)
  7. “Video Game” – Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty)
  8. “For Sure” – Future Islands (4AD)
  9. “Beautiful Machines” – Joan App (self release)
  10. “the ground below” – Run the Jewels (Jewel Runners)
  11. “Don’t Wanna” – HAIM (Columbia)
  12. “Under the Table” – Fiona Apple (Epic)
  13. “Northsiders” – Christian Lee Hutson (Anti)
  14. “Cold Light of Day” – Lewsberg (self release)
  15. “Blue Bird” – Nathan Ma (self release)
  16. “Agitate Resuscitate” – Criteria (15 Passenger)
  17. “Dying to Believe” – The Beths (Carpark)
  18. “Coolie Trade” – Mike Schlesinger (self release)
  19. “Asking for a Friend” – McCarthy Trenching (self release)
  20. “If We Make It Through December” – Phoebe Bridgers (Dead Ocean)
  21. “Christmas” – Marinelli (self release)

Want a copy of the CD? Enter to win one in the annual drawing! To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 4, at midnight.

The playlist also is available in Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i Best of” in Spotify then select Playlists, and you’ll find it along with a few from past years, too.

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What a wonderful surprise last week when the fine folks from The So-So Sailors posted a new song on Bandcamp.

From their Facebook post announcing the song: “Well, it’s been a while. And, we’ve missed you an awful lot! So, in the spirit of the season, and despite the trials of 2020, we wish you happiness, health and prosperity. And with that, please accept a little Christmas cookie in form of “My Arms,” the first single from our forthcoming 2021 LP release. Here’s to 2021!!

The band, which consists of frontman Chris Machmuller (Ladyfinger), drummer Dan Kemp, bassist/vocalist Brendan Greene-Walsh, keyboardist Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching) and guitarist Alex McManus (The Bruces), released its debut EP, Young Hearts, in December 2011. Read about their illustrious origins in this 2011 Lazy-i interview.

Their new album is just one more thing to look forward to in 2021, along with the end of COVID and the return of live music. None of it can come fast enough…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i