I’m back; Lincoln heads to SXSW; yes that’s me in Encounter magazine; King Trump (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:14 pm March 1, 2016


by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well I’m back from south Florida — Captiva Island, Florida, to be precise, an isolated land mass east of Fort Myers and just north of Sanibel Island. The kind of place where people ride around on bicycles and golf carts, and you’re lucky to find an open bar past 10 p.m. Music consists mostly of guitar-and-steel-drum trios playing covers of Jimmy Buffett and John Denver ballads. It was a long-weekend getaway and about as far away from a SXSW-style spring vacation as you could get. Like Nixon after a long week at San Clemente, I return tanned, rested and ready to go…

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Nebraska Exposed at SXSW 2016

Nebraska Exposed at SXSW 2016

Speaking of SXSW, the folks that bring you Lincoln Calling and Lincoln Exposed have organized a Nebraska showcase at this year’s Austin festival. Consisting almost entirely of Lincoln bands, they’re calling it Nebraska Exposed.

The showcase is Wednesday, March 16, at Cheers Shot Bar, which those familiar with the layout will remember is located a block and a half west of Red River Road on 6th Street — a red-hot location. Hats off to Jeremy Buckley and his pals for pulling this off with the help of a sponsorship by Nebraska Tourism.

The day party begins at noon with Oketo, followed by BOTH, Bonehart Flannigan, AZP, Universe Contest, Freakabout, Laughing Falcon and closes at 7 p.m. with Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal.

I’d love to see someone organize a showcase like this that featured Omaha acts. In the past, Saddle Creek Records have sponsored showcases that included one or two Omaha bands, but not this year.

My dream Nebraska SXSW showcase would feature one of Saddle Creek’s crown jewel acts along with Miniature Horse, See Through Dresses, Little Brazil, Digital Leather, Bloodcow, Brad Hoshaw/7 Deadlies, Lupines, Simon Joyner and Whipkey (for starters). Get to work on this for next year, Hear Nebraska.

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From the pages of this month's Encounter Magazine.

From the pages of this month’s Encounter Magazine.

If you’ve ever wondered what I look like, you can find out in this month’s issue of Encounter Magazine. Writer James Walmsley wrote the feature, that talks about my history writing about the Nebraska indie music scene along with some opinions about the current state of the indie ’round these parts. The portrait is by the amazing Bill Sitzmann, who has quite a history of his own shooting Nebraska bands. Look for your copy ’round town and in the Old Market. It’s not online yet. When it does go online, I’ll include a link.

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This being Super Tuesday, I figured it was as good a time as any to post my Over the Edge column from this month’s issue of The Reader focused (again) on Trump. The paper probably won’t hit the news stands until later this week, or maybe later. By then, the election on the Republican side (and likely the Dems, too) will be all but over. Trump is riding an unstoppable wave. Rumors of a secret New York Times recording of Trump speaking off the record support one of the points made in my column. In the end, it won’t matter, because his followers aren’t electing a politician, they’re electing a right-wing dream merchant, and nothing less than being convicted of murder is going to stop his ascension to the top of the GOP ladder, where Hillary awaits to knock him off… probably. Read the column here.

It’s good to be back.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Music Visions for 2016 (and a look back at 2015)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 1:50 pm January 6, 2016
What would Tom Jones say?

What does the future hold?

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for: The annual Visions of 2016 Music Predictions. You can read the article in the January issue of The Reader monthly magazine, available at all the usual drop locations sometime this week. Or you can check it out right now online at TheReader.com, right here. Or, heck, just read the darn thing below…

Music Visions for 2016

So now you know what happened in 2015. Here’s what’s going to happen in 2016. But first, let’s score how well I did with last year’s predictions. My crystal ball must have been broken because I didn’t do so good.

2015 Prediction: An all-out Spotify rebellion will break out next year, and it won’t be coming from independent labels who are getting gutted by the service, but rather (ironically) from big name stars who make the most money off Spotify. And you’ll have Taylor Swift to thank.

Reality: Only a few stars joined Taylor and stayed off Spotify — Prince, Thom Yorke and Jason Aldean. The reason no one’s jumping off the streaming train — through mid-year 2015, music streaming has increased year-over-year by 92.3 percent, according to Nielsen Music. With the industry in shambles, who doesn’t want to ride that wave?

2015 Prediction: The vinyl craze will slow after a year that saw a 49 percent increase in U.S. vinyl sales vs. 2013 numbers. Younger music fans refuse to embrace a medium they see as an interesting but inconvenient gimmick that costs twice as much (or more) than what they pay to download the same album (if they pay at all).

Reality: As of July, vinyl sales climbed another 38 percent year-over-year in the U.S., with vinyl now comprising nearly 9 percent of all physical sales (up from 4 percent), according to Nielsen.

2015 Prediction: More record labels will be forced to follow record label Fat Possums’ lead and open their own vinyl pressing plants due to the shortage of vinyl manufacturing options.

Reality: Last month Third Man Records (founded by Jack White) announced it is opening a vinyl record pressing plant in Detroit, which will house eight brand new presses bought from a German pressing plant manufacturer.

2015 Prediction: Record labels will discover a way to add new value to CDs, either by offering better audio quality (hi-res audio), lower prices or new packaging options.

Reality: Didn’t happen. In fact, according to Nielsen CD sales were down 10 percent by mid-year 2015 versus the previous year.

2015 Prediction: A rock band will produce the first-ever Oculus Rift music video.

Reality: While artists such as Bjork and Squarepusher have produced 360-degree “virtual reality” videos, I’ve yet to see a band create something specifically for Oculus Rift or even Google Cardboard…yet.

2015 Prediction: Record labels will try to replicate Guardians of the Galaxy‘s success by releasing new albums consisting entirely of chart-topping oldies.

Reality: Nope.

2015 Prediction: A reunited ’90s band will release a new recording that will break into the mainstream in a big way. Will it be Sonic Youth, Buffalo Tom, Jane’s Addiction, Galaxy 500, The Grifters, R.E.M. or Commander Venus?

Reality: None of the above. Instead, ’90s alt rock is being regurgitated by today’s crop of indie bands.

2015 Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Modest Mouse, Hop Along, U2, Desaparecidos, Low, Cursive, Prince, Savages, Lloyd Cole, The Mynabirds, The Replacements, The xx, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, For Against, PJ Harvey, Icky Blossoms.

Reality: Hop Along is a critic’s darling, U2 is going back on tour, Desaparecidos cancelled their tour, Low just played Reverb, and Prince released a new album in December.

2015 Prediction: Bands we won’t be talking about: Iggy Azalea, Madonna, Metallica, Bright Eyes, Sun Kil Moon, The War on Drugs, Swans, FKA Twigs, Kanye, Led Zeppelin.

Reality: Other than FKA Twigs, just about everyone else listed is MIA.

2015 Prediction: The Rolling Stones will be down one Stone.

Reality: Not only are they alive and kicking, but the Stones did a brief tour last summer, and Keith just released a new solo album.

2015 Prediction: Omaha’s bar-club bubble will burst as one or more local music venue/clubs will change hands and stop offering live music.

Reality: Well, Sweatshop has been dormant since it changed ownership.

2015 Prediction: Maha Music Festival organizers’ wish will finally come true and they’ll book “that band” that they’ve always wanted to play the festival.

Reality: They didn’t get “that band,” but they did get a sold out concert.

2015 Predication: We’ll experience the first wave of rock ‘n’ roll “retirements” as a number of long-time well-paid singers/songwriters/musicians/bands will announce they’re getting out of the music business because they can no longer make a living at it, thanks to declining album sales and streaming services.

Reality: Not only did no one retire, but Phil Collins said he’s coming back. Does anyone ever really leave the music business?

2015 Prediction: Look for a Kickstarter campaign from a former Billboard chart-topping act (and I’m not talking about Creed).

Reality: Other than De La Soul and TLC, successful pop acts have been avoiding Kickstarter.

2015 Prediction: While mainstream pop music becomes more sugar sweet, indie music will become more miserable. Depressing, dark acts like Pharmakon, Swans, Perfume Genius and Sun Kil Moon will be joined by even more miserable acts that will counter-balance pop’s bright banality.

Reality: Either the darkness has lifted or I’ve been ignoring the gloom.

2015 Prediction: With the continued popularity of music contest shows like The Voice and American Idol, it was only a matter of time until a network decided to revive American Bandstand.

Reality: Nope. In fact, this will be the final season for American Idol (or so they say).

2015 Prediction: Thanks to its airing on Palladia, someone will create an American version of Later… with Jools Holland.

Reality: We’re still waiting for something / someone like Jools in the U.S.

2015 Prediction: Look for the launch of yet another new FM radio station in the Omaha market that plays CMJ-style indie.

Reality: Not yet.

2015 Prediction: As the industry continues to crumble, more historically huge bands will sign deals with mid-level indie labels. Along those same lines, you’ll see more formerly “large” bands and performers self-releasing material as they turn their back on labels altogether.

Reality: Still not happening.

2015 Prediction: No local or Saddle Creek artist will make it to the SNL stage next year (duh), but one (other than a Conor band) will make it on national TV.

Reality: The only local to make it to the airwaves in 2015 was Desaparecidos.

If I really stretched, I was 5 for 20. Maybe I was trying too hard? This year I’m limiting predictions to just 10. Here we go:

2016 Prediction: In the old days, if you wanted your music to get heard by the biggest audience you sought out radio stations in hopes they’d add your single to their play lists. With music streaming replacing radio as the new music promotional model, the new target is getting songs added to streaming playlists that have the most followers. For example, if you happened to get your song added to Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits” list, your music would be heard in more than 6 million pairs of ear buds. Spotify’s “New Music Friday” playlists boasts 855,000 followers, according to Billboard. Just as important is getting the attention of DJs, curators and social media “influencers” with large followings. Labels are now hiring reps that do just that.

2016 Prediction: Streaming live performances will become a thing. Apps like Periscope give anyone with a smartphone an opportunity to share a live performance, but more than that, clubs, venues and music halls will begin to upload their soundboard feeds directly to streaming services, sharing concerts as they happen, making it possible to catch sets by virtually any band on tour.

2016 Prediction: This is the year that vinyl crosses the line from interesting novelty to serious revenue stream, as it becomes second nature for labels and musicians to consistently produce vinyl versions for their latest albums. As a result we’ll see the beginning of a second record-store renaissance. More shops will open. In-store performance tours will become as common as book-signing tours. Record Store Day will expand beyond two days a year. Vinyl is here to stay.

2016 Prediction: Apple Music wasn’t the game changer everyone thought it would be, but it still managed to rack up more than 54 million users in 2015, according to Nielsen and was ranked as the No. 9 smartphone app. Watch as more services (including Facebook) get into the streaming music business, forcing Spotify and Apple to to figure out ways to gain bigger market share, ultimately cutting the price of premium streaming services in half (or lower). Free premium streaming may be just around the corner.

2016 Prediction: It’s not unusual that Tom Jones will take his final bow this year.

2016 Prediction: As costs continue to rise and income continues to shrink for record labels, watch as small and mid-sized indie labels begin to consolidate in an effort to share resources and broaden their reach. In this industry model, who would be a perfect suitor for Saddle Creek?

2016 Prediction: A long-time music reporter and Nebraska music scene fixture will either retire or get a new assignment.

2016 Prediction: When The Waiting Room and The Slowdown opened in 2007, those venues focused on booking indie shows. As interest in indie music dropped off in recent years, they’ve changed their course, only occasionally booking mid-sized to large indie rock show. That shift will continue in 2016 as more small and mid-sized indie shows will detour to small venues like Milk Run, Lookout Lounge and O’Leaver’s, who will become the de facto outlets for all things indie. With indie music headed back underground, is the rise in house shows and hall shows far behind?

2016 Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: My Bloody Valentine, Beck, PJ Harvey, Matthew Sweet, Green Day, The Arcade Fire, Stephen Malkmus/Pavement, The Faint, Warpaint and Spoon. Bands we won’t be talking about: Kendrick Lamar, Kanye, Taylor Swift, Drake, Kurt Vile, Adele, Beach House, Lana Del Rey and U2.

2016 Prediction: The next network appearance by a Nebraska performer will again involve Conor Oberst, as we welcome the return of Bright Eyes. Will Conor finally make it on SNL? Wait and see…

First published in The Reader, Jan. 6, 2016. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Have a High Up / Digital Leather New Year’s; Over the Edge Year in Review…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:08 pm December 31, 2015

HighUp112815by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Like all other holidays, New Year’s Eve is a night of DJs and cover bands. Let’s face it, if you’re still going out to the clubs on NYE you’re probably doing it to find some companionship (or to cement an existing companion, if you know what I mean).

I say this, and then there’s fabulous O’Leaver’s. If you go to O’Leaver’s for NYE you’ve grown past the hoopla, you’ve found your companion-zone years ago, you’re looking for a place to simply hang with friends and enjoy some exceptionally good live music. Tonight is no exception.

O’Leaver’s has two of Omaha’s best ringing in the New Year, along with one of the city’s best DJs. First there’s High Up. The band that made the biggest splash in 2015 takes a victory lap. I see big things in ’16 for the Fink sisters and their merry band of soul rockers. Then there’s Digital Leather, a band that’s been on the verge of something bigger since frontman Shawn Foree rolled into town back in 2009. Foree and the boys should be in rare form tonight, rare form. Holding it together is DJ Tyrone Storm a.k.a. Roger Lewis who is part of the team that made Benson Soul Society a huge hit. All of that and complimentary champagne at midnight? What more could you want for a mere $10. Music starts at 8.

As for the rest of the clubs, well, like I said, it’s mostly cover bands and DJs. Party at your own discretion. I’ll be ringing in the New Year with my wife coaxing my dogs out from beneath the couch as the world around them explodes in fireworks. Why Omaha allows fireworks in the city is anyone’s guess. City officials must have felt there was no way to enforce a law banning fireworks, so might as well let someone (i.e., campaign contributors) make some money off the holiday. Meanwhile, people are getting their hands and eyes blown to bits, my dogs are shaking in fear and I (and a lot of other dog owners) are staying home to make sure our furry friends are OK. Thanks, Omaha, for another backfired political decision.

Speaking of backfiring politics, check out my Over the Edge Year in Review where I look in the rear-view mirror and contemplate: What’s it say about us that when asked to look back on 2015 the only things that come to mind are solemn, terrifying, critical and trivial media-driven events? You can read it in the January issue of The Reader, which hits the news stands next week, or online at thereader.com right here right now.

By the way, if you’re looking for my music predictions for 2016, they’ll be online next week.

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

Speaking of Years in Review, check out the track list for (and enter to win a copy of) the Lazy-i Best of 2015 comp CD. All my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for lazy-i.com. Among those represented: Algiers, Sam Martin, Sufjan Stevens, Clarence Tilton, Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Freedy Johnston, The Mynabirds, and the two bands mentioned earlier — Digital Leather and High Up — plus lots more. The full track listing is here. Enter your name in a drawing to win a copy. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 4!

Happy New Year, y’all…

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Where does Maha go from here? (in the column); Oquoa, Rocky Votolato tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 10, 2015
The Maha Music Festival is this coming Saturday, Aug. 15, at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village.

The Maha Music Festival is this coming Saturday, Aug. 15, at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Maha Music Festival is this coming Saturday, and chatter continues that this could be the first year it actually sells out. I don’t know what “sells out” equates to — 10,000 tickets? If it happens it would create a new benchmark and would likely signal a change in how the festival is run in the future. Expansion to a 2-day event? Partnering with other local entities?  A move of venue?

Those options are covered in this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader. Maha Vice President Lauren Schomburg talks about the current state of the festival and possible future scenarios. The jury is definitely split as to whether Maha should remain a quaint 10,000-sized one-day indie music festival or take steps to grow into something bigger at the risk of losing some of its charm. Read the column (online here) and then let me know where you weigh in. And purchase your $50 tickets before it sells out.

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Tonight at Pageturners Lounge Oquoa plays a free set as part of the bar’s summer concert series. The show starts at 9 p.m. More info here.

Also tonight, singer/songwriter Rocky Votolato (Barsuk Records) headlines at Slowdown Jr. with Dave Hause and Chris Farren. $12, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Review: Icky Blossoms in Pitchfork (6.8 rating); harvest time for Saddle Creek Records…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 5:53 pm May 14, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s been a long while since there’s been this kind of excitement surrounding Saddle Creek Records: Three releases over the course of the past two weeks: Hop Along’s Painted Shut, Twinsmith’s Alligator Years and Icky Blossoms’ Mask. Boom-boom-boom.

So far, the Hop Along release has received the lion’s share of press (but then again, it’s been out the longest). In addition to its massive Pitchfork rating (7.9), the album received a whopping 4-star review in the new issue of Rolling Stone. And the record is among the top-10 highest rated at review aggregator Album of the Year with a composite rating of 83 out of 100 (based on 10 reviews). Impressive.

Icky Blossoms, Mask (2015, Saddle Creek)

Icky Blossoms, Mask (2015, Saddle Creek)

Not to be outdone, Pitchfork just reviewed the new Icky Blossoms record, giving it a respectable 6.8 rating. The review concluded with, “…a follow-up that finds Icky Blossoms letting their guard down and embracing the values of their music scene, where there’s no higher form of fashion than wearing your heart on your sleeve.” OK then.

I listened to the record over and over last night. The album trounces around with more unbridled energy than the band’s debut, relentlessly so. Mask isn’t so much a dance record as a rock album with a beat that leans closer to acidic psychedelic more than EDM or “electro-clash” (whatever that means). For my money, Mask has more infectious electronic hooks than the debut, which makes it more interesting, and more fun.

Sarah Bohling sounds like an altogether different vocalist, with a range that goes well beyond the deep, pronounced croak heard on the debut. Pitchfork noted this as well, saying about the band’s debut, “There were moments where the band’s primary singer Sarah Bohling in particular sounded as if she longed to emote, but she restrained herself, because genre protocol dictated she remain as dispassionate as the sequenced pulses behind her. On Icky Blossoms’ sophomore album Mask, Bohling recasts herself as a real, vulnerable human being.” Hear hear!

If there’s a criticism it’s that the album is too relentless, rarely letting up on the gas pedal. There’s nothing on the new record as campy or fun as “Babes” or as slinkly/slacker as “Perfect Vision,” though for sheer debauchery, nothing on the debut matches album highlight “Away from You” and the line “Let’s get together / There’s no afterlife.” Or the emotional punch of “Want You So Bad,” which starts off sounding like a lost Azure Ray track.

Allmusic.com — maybe the oldest online review site — came in with a 3-1/2 star review for Mask, pointing out: “…the inelegant use of compression that causes even the sweeter parts of Mask to slam like a digital hurricane becomes downright distracting, especially on the final two tracks which, consequently, are the most aggressive and harshest mixes on the album. Production missteps aside, there is some great material here and Icky Blossoms’ big new sound generally agrees with them.

We’re still waiting for the Twinsmith reviews to come rolling in, though Allmusic has weighed in with a 3-star review, concluding: “…much of Alligator Years feels so familiar that it’s hard to distinguish them from the multitude of other generally pleasant bands working in this same milieu. Still, it’s a solid enough release by a talented young band who have the potential to grow into their own personality.

Exciting times. And it’ll keep on rolling next month when the new Desaparecidos new record comes out on Epitaph the same day the new Digital Leather record comes out on FDH. I haven’t heard the Desa record yet. The DL record is a breakthrough of sorts for the band.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room, The Lone Bellow (Descendent) with Cereus Bright and Clarence Tilton. $15, 9 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Cyclones vs. Huskers (in the column); John Klemmensen’s Death Battle tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: — @ 1:53 pm December 4, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I posted this week’s column online at 7 a.m., giving it all of three or four hours of relevancy before the new head coach of Nebraska was named. The column is really about team devotion, and how Iowa State fans get it right. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

This has been a dead week for music news and shows. Dead.

Tonight is Songwriter Death Battle pt. 6 at The Waiting Room. John Klemmensen hosts and provides the guitar, which is passed around from songwriter to songwriter (all mostly from the Benson area) throughout the evening. $7, 9 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Live Review: Tennis, Pure Bathing Culture; 3Q’14 Reviews (in the column); Oquoa, Dylan Ryan/Sand tonight…

Category: Column,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:54 pm November 6, 2014
Tennis at The Waiting Room, Nov. 5, 2014.

Tennis at The Waiting Room, Nov. 5, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tennis continues to grow. Every time the Denver band comes to Omaha the crowd gets bigger. No doubt the crowds will continue to grow as more people discover their new album, Ritual in Repeat (Communion), which hits a sweet spot between their usual airy indie songs and new rhythm-centered tracks.

In fact, the best songs of the night came from that new album. Three songs in, tiny frontwoman Alaina Moore coaxed the crowd to come closer to the stage before introducing the new material, highlighted by jump-beat track “Never Work for Free.” Moore’s voice is a cross between Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and Olivia Newton John. Tennis’ lighter moments resemble The Sundays mellow rapture or Camera Obscura, while the upbeat numbers, like the disco-thump “I’m Callin'” are pure Xanadu, thanks in part to the subtle guitar funk of bandmate Patrick Riley, who if he wore a white V-neck T-shirt, could pass as Denver Dalley’s older brother.

These days it’s rare for bands to evolve past their first album, but Tennis has only improved with age. Their music certainly has gotten more interesting, and if Moore and Co. ever commit to a full-out dance party who knows how far they’d go. They’ve already come pretty far.

Pure Bathing Culture sans drummer at The Waiting Room Nov. 5, 2014.

Pure Bathing Culture sans drummer at The Waiting Room Nov. 5, 2014.

I’m not sure what was going on during Pure Bathing Culture’s set. The Portland band was without their drummer for reasons unknown. When the band acknowledged his absence, someone in the smallish crowd asked if he got fired. “No, but if he misses more shows…”

The trio sounded off-kilter, as if something was wrong with their tuning, and the whole performance listed under water, leaving me a tad bit seasick. The fill-in pre-programmed beats didn’t help matters, nor did the mud-quality mix which masked frontwoman Sarah Versprille’s vocals, making them undecipherable. Or maybe it was just me. I talked to one guy afterward who said he loved their short 20-minute set.

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In this week’s column, the 3rd Quarter 2014 Album Reviews Round-up, with reviews of new ones by The Gotobeds, The Heart Wants, Ty Segall, Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, Twin Peaks and more. You can read it in the new issue of The Reader or online right here.

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s the return of local indie super-group Oquoa, along with LA instrumental band Dylan Ryan / Sand and Hotlines. $5, 9:30 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ruby Fray, Sean Pratt and the Sweats tonight; searching for latte in North O (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 7:47 am October 30, 2014
Ruby Fray plays tonight at O'Leaver's....

Ruby Fray plays tonight at O’Leaver’s….

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ah, K Records. Here’s a label that goes back, way back. Among the stereotypes for K was that it was a twee-pop label, that its bands focused on soft, sweet melodies. Bands like, well, The Softies and Lois and Kimya Dawson. But over the years, K has released stuff from a ton of acts that don’t fall into any category, such as Built to Spill, Beck, Bikini Kill, The Go Team, Calvin Johnson (the label’s owner), Adrian Orange, Pansy Division, Love as Laughter, Mecca Normal and so on. I guess if there’s a thread that runs through it all it’s a Pacific Northwest connection. After all, K Records is run out of Olympia, Washington.

I say all this because tonight K Records band Ruby Fray plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Frontwoman Emily Beanblossom is from Olympia and has recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio with Calvin Johnson, though these days she’s living in Austin. She’s got a new album called Grackle on K. She’s opening tonight for local boys Sean Pratt and the Sweats. 9:30 p.m. $5.

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In this week’s column, a drive through North Omaha, a neighborhood characterized by a politico as “one of the worst,” and the endless search for a cup of coffee. It’s in this week’s issue of The Reader or you can read it online right here.

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That is all… for now.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Simon Joyner and The Ghosts (new lineup), Delta Spirit tonight; Mitch Gettman, Magnolias, Almost Music festival Saturday; Sideshow Sunday…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:16 pm October 17, 2014
Brad Smith of Almost Music enjoys a Coke sometime in the late '60s. His record store celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday with an all-day music festival.

Brad Smith of Almost Music enjoys a Coke sometime in the late ’60s. His record store celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday with an all-day music festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s already the weekend, believe it or not. Let’s get to the shows, shall we?

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Simon Joyner unveils a new line-up for his band, The Ghosts.  Jim Schroeder of UUVVWWZ has taken over lead guitar, Mike Friedman has shifted to organ and pedal steel. Meanwhile, Alec Erickson of Subtropics is handling bass. Rounding out the band is Megan Siebe on viola and organ, and Kevin Donahue on drums. Whew!

Simon says the band will be playing songs from his new record, Grass, Branch, and Bone, which comes out on Brooklyn label Woodsist Records (Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Eat Skull) in January or February. Also on the bill is Lincoln folk-rock band Kill County. This one is $7 and starts at 9 p.m., and it’s a Hear Nebraska presentation.

Meanwhile, Delta Spirit headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. Their new album, Into the Wide (Dualtone Records), subtly shifts the band’s sound away from Americana to something that blends indie with mainstream anthem rock. Big sound, big breaks, big choruses, the band is reaching for a bigger audience and will likely find it with this one. Opening is NYC band SACCO and SF band Waters. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the obtusely named Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) plays at Slowdown Jr. with Free Throw and Super Ghost. $10, 9 p.m.

And The Doneofits headline at The Barley Street with Baberaham Lincolns, DL Diedrich and thoughts. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is another Cornhusker game night, which usually limits music options. Not this time.

Mitch Gettman is celebrating the release of his new EP, Nothing Stays the Same, at Reverb. Opening is Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies along with Edem. $5, 9 p.m.

Over at The Brothers Lounge Minneapolis legends The Magnolias crowd into the pool table room. They’ve been playing the hard shit for almost 30 years. Opening is Bullet Proof Hearts. No price listed for this one, but it’s probably less than $10 (and closer to $5), 9 p.m.

O’Leaver’s is hosting Des Moines band Holy White Hounds along with local dudes Sidewalkers. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday (during the day) Almost Music and Solid Jackson Books celebrates its one-year anniversary. My, how time flies when you’re selling quality vinyl and books! To mark the occasion, the Benson shop at 6569 Maple is hosting live music from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The line-up:

Twin – 11:00-11:30
Nathaniel Hoier – 11:45-12:15
Sean Pratt and the Sweats – 12:30-1:00
Brendan Hagberg – 1:15-1:45
Matthew Theim – 2:00-2:30
MS/MM – 2:45-3:15
Rachel Tomlinson Dick – 3:30-4:00
Lvrk Late- 4:15-4:45
Marcey Yates – 5:00-5:30
Telepathy Problems- 5:45-6:15
Sucettes – 6:30-7:00

Expect food, albums, books, prizes and lots of fun.

The weekend doesn’t stop there. I usually don’t write about Lincoln shows, but this one is special. Legendary Lincoln band Sideshow reforms for a gig Sunday night at Duffy’s. We’re talking the trio of Pawl Tisdale (now of Domestica), Rich Higgins (now of Nanahara) and Bernie McGinn (now of California). Both Domestica and Nanahara are opening. $5, 8 p.m.

Also Sunday, Millions of Boys headlines at Slowdown Jr. with Outer Spaces and Relax, It’s Science. $5 now, $7 DOS. 9 p.m.

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In this week’s column, television, sex, parenting and Viagra (but not necessarily in that order). You can read it in this weeks issue of The Reader or online right here.

That’s what 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


UNO hosts free concert w/Icky Blossoms, M34n Str33t, Lincoln Calling continues, blue light memories (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm October 9, 2014
Icky Blossoms is the featured performer at tonight's free concert at UNO's Caniglia Stadium.

Icky Blossoms is the featured performer at tonight’s free concert at UNO’s Caniglia Stadium.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve got to hand it to my ol’ alma mater. They could have gotten anyone to play tonight’s Maverick Mayhem homecoming pep rally / block party at Al Caniglia Field — former home of Maverick Football, now home to Maverick Soccer. They wisely chose Icky Blossoms.

So here’s your chance to not only see the Icky’s for free and (probably) hear some of the new material off their forthcoming sophomore effort on Saddle Creek Records, but to also check out the remodeled stadium and even grab some dinner (according to the invite, local food trucks will be on the scene).

Also on the bill is hip-hop royalty M34n Str33t and DJ Kethro. Like I said, it’s all free and starts at 6 p.m.

I don’t remember the university doing this sort of thing when I went to UNO. Sure, there was a homecoming pep rally somewhere, but cool bands never played. All we ever got was those lame UNO “parties” at the ol’ Warehouse in Council Bluffs, now long burned down…

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Lincoln Calling continues tonight in… Lincoln. Check out the full lineup at lincolncalling.com (And hey, White Mystery plays at Duffy’s!).

I guess ol’ Pearl Jam is playing in Lincoln tonight. You think ol’ Eddie and the crew will hang around after the show and check out some LC action? Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head…

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In this week’s column, memories of life working at Kmart as yet another local discounter goes down victim of the Walmart-ization of America. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

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Over the Edge: As the blue light fades

by Tim McMahan

We headed out to Kmart Saturday after I read via The Reader‘s Facebook page that the store was closing.

First thing I noticed after bracing my way through the crowd headed the other direction with armloads of stuffed white poly bags was the gray tape stripe on the floor. It split in two directions, one toward Health & Beauty, the other toward Apparel.

Neon orange signs had been taped on shelves, on end-caps, on stacks of appliances piled on the floor. “Closing sale. 10 to 30 percent off lowest marked price!” It wasn’t much of a discount, but it was only the first week. That number would climb higher — 25 to 50 percent. 75 percent. Until nothing was left but broken toys.

I wasn’t there to pick up deals. I was there to see if I recognized anyone from the old days. Foolish. My co-workers were long gone. I worked at Kmart right out of high school. Back then, this store on 134th and Maple was located off 108th and Maple — 108th Emmett, to be precise.

Unlike today, when any tat-covered, blue-haired teenager with a pissed off look can get a job at almost any store, restaurant or fast-food joint, in the early ’80s, part-time jobs were scarce. I’d applied at all the usual places — Baker’s, Food City, even a telemarketing place on 90th Street. I never got a call back.

The only reason I got that Kmart job was because my dad, who owned a salvage store in Fremont, had done business with Mr. Speckman, the store manager. Even then, it took some convincing, but I got on, hauling manure and watering plants in the Garden Shop after being indoctrinated in the checkouts. When summer ended, I sold appliances and picked up extra hours in the warehouse.

I loved working at Kmart. And though it’s been more than 25 years, I still dream about it and remember some of the arcane numeric systems — the codes. For example, all employees were given a number used for in-store announcements. My number was 32, as in “Thirty-two to the registers please, 32.” Steve was 41. Matt was 51. Rob was 55. Janie was 2. The store manager was 300. Strangely, I don’t remember my old girlfriend’s number. There’s probably a reason for that.

Every product category also had a number. Hardware was Dept. 5. Home improvement was 61. Appliances was 6. School supplies was 25. Housewares, 41. Toys, 4. Glassware, 22. Some nights, instead of counting sheep, I run through these numbers in my head in an effort to nod off.

The work was mundane. Time was divided between the checkouts, stocking shelves, warehouse work or helping customers. If you had something to do, time went by fast. If you didn’t, it crawled. There were no smart phones to fill in the empty spaces. I don’t know how anything gets done at discount stores these days. I know if I’d had a smart phone back then, I never would have gotten anything done.

Eventually they trusted me enough to let me work overnight stocking shelves, where they literally locked you in — to protect both you and them from thieves. One night I was handed a can of lacquer thinner and a putty knife and was told to scrape the old red tape-stripe off the linoleum floor. That red stripe had to be gone by sun-up to make way for the new gray tape.

The first thing I did after they locked me in was carry a boom box from the appliances department to the courtesy counter, where I taped down the handle on the PA microphone (used to announce Blue Light Specials). By pointing the mic at the boom box, I became the store’s resident deejay. It would be the first and last time bands like Guadalcanal Diary, The Reivers and The Replacements would ring throughout a Kmart.

The beauty of any hourly job was knowing your day started when you punched the clock and ended when you punched the clock again. Every Friday after 5 p.m., we all walked to the cash cage in the back of the store and picked up an envelope. That’s right. Kmart paid its hourly employees in cash once a week. I guess they figured we would spend some of our hard-earned money before we left the store, and most of us did.

I worked part-time at Kmart for five years, which helped pay my way through UNO. My last wage was $5.10 an hour. I quit shortly after I got an internship at Union Pacific that led to a freelance job that led to a career. I remember picking up my last envelope and saying goodbye to my comrades, like a parolee leaving prison, knowing some of them were bound to end up lifers.

I left them all behind. I couldn’t tell you where ol’ 41 or 55 or 51 or 2 are today. Some of them, like me, moved onto other jobs and other lives. Some of them are dead. And some of them still work at Kmart somewhere, but not at this store, not today.

Eventually there will be no more Kmarts. Every store will be squeezed out of the market by Wal-mart and Cosco and Sam’s Club. And when the last Kmart closes, we’ll lose a piece of merchandising history that will fade away like the dimming glow of a Blue Light Special and the echoing call in the distance of  “Attention Kmart shoppers…

Over The Edge is a weekly 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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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.