Saddle Creek at 25 — a look at the label’s past, present and future; Oquoa, Ojai tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm June 11, 2018

The Saddle Creek staff circa 2003, from left, Matt Maginn, Jason Kulbel, Jadon Ulrich, Jeff Tafolla and Robb Nansel. Photo by Ryan Fox.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The June 2018 issue of The Reader — The Music Issue.

The June issue of The Reader — The Music Issue — is out. Or at it’s online. The cover story is a lengthy piece written by me about Saddle Creek Records on its 25th anniversary, and includes comments from label chief Robb Nansel, new A&R rep Amber Carew and recent label signee Stef Chura.

Titled Saddle Creek at 25 with a subtitle “The label that defined indie cool over a decade ago is suddenly cool again,” the story focuses not so much on the label’s early years (which you can read about here and here) as much as how they survived though the changes impacting the music industry, and how they’re positioned for the future.

As detailed in the story, I characterized (and Nansel generally agreed) Saddle Creek’s history in three eras — the time up to and including the label’s biggest successes, the awkward middle years right after their heyday when they began booking non-Omaha-connected acts, and the “New Era” they’re currently enjoying hallmarked by the success of roster acts Hop Along and Big Thief and a handful of other up-and-comers.

Nansel and Co. touch on the label’s history but also talk about adjusting to technology’s negative impacts, how the philosophy behind who they sign hasn’t changed and the future.

You can read the story online right here.

The interview with Nansel took two hours and was around 20,000 words of transcribed copy, so yeah, there’s out-takes, which I’ll likely post in the coming days, along with the full text of the story (for posterity’s sake, and to ensure that if The Reader ever goes belly-up there will be another copy online). Among those out-takes are Nansel’s self-proclaimed biggest success and biggest disappointment. You’ll have to wait to read the answers.

Anyway, give it it read, and pick up a copy of the printed version at your favorite news stand. Also included is The Reader‘s controversial list of Omaha’s Top 20 bands. More on that here in the very near future (including my own list)…

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Pageturner’s summer concert series continues tonight with Oquoa and Ojai. The fun starts at 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Ten Questions with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (at Slowdown May 17); Helmet tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:39 pm May 15, 2018

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club plays Thursday night at The Slowdown. Photo by Tessa Angus.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — a.k.a. BRMC — have been a force in the West Coast psych rock scene since the band formed in the late ’90s. The core has always been guitarist Peter Hayes and bassist Robert Levon Been, who have shared the vocals throughout the band’s eight studio albums.

Their style: a grimy gutter groove, a loud fuzz guitar and a gritty growl spitting out words about the wrong kind of love. Rock stomps like “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” off the 2010 album by the same name, and “Spread Your Love” off their 2001 debut B.R.M.C. are the perfect soundtrack for anyone who wants to feel like a bad-ass. The band keeps the grind going strong on their latest, Wrong Creatures, released this past January by Vagrant Records.

We caught up with BRMC’s Robert Levon Been and asked him Ten Questions:

What is your favorite album?

Robert Levon Been: Still waiting for it.

What is your least favorite song?

Nearly all of the them, except the very few that somehow give just enough hope to music to trick it into believing it might all carry on into infinity and beyond.

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

It’s the real dream: to find a place where you set aside all your differences with another person and create something new, beautiful, and unexpected with another person. It’s not far from child birth or any great work of art that’s a collaborative exploration into violent and unknown territory.

What do you hate about being in a band?

The sex, drugs, lies, egos and the distractions. But then again, what would rock ’n’ roll be without all those things?

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

MUSIC. I know it’s like the most pretentious answer of all time, but I don’t care. It really comes down to the song, atmosphere, weird sonic vibrations, and soul. Everything else is just is surface, sugar, icing on the cake, and always fleeting…

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Our dream is to play Iceland, which is the only place we’ve never played and we’ve always tried year after year after year… so please start a petition! To get BRMC TO ICELAND, please.

What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I think most towns we’ve bombed as many time as we’ve soared, so it kinda balances out. As far as why…I don’t know, I guess we all get nervous and choke just as much as the next guy or gal.

Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

This is actually a good question, because when the band started we ALL AGREED for each member to only be paid a monthly salary (as if we had normal jobs). So if we got a huge licenses for $800,000 dollars we would still just take out a small allowance of that, and that kept us from blowing through our money super fast (with fur coats and lambos). What I’ve noticed though is that after each album we usually have about one year before the accountants start saying ‘Hey look, you’re gonna completely run out of your savings in about six months unless you deliver another new album.’ And that fucks with your head, because you’re just not always inspired every single year to write a new album, which is why I think ‘Wrong Creatures’ took longer than most because we didn’t want to release an album just for, like, tax purposes, which would be almost sacrilegious artistically. So we dragged our feet more than ever before and waited until the songs came more naturally, and it started to feel like an album that we needed in these times. And that’s the only thing that really matters at the end of the day.

What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

A film director or an astronaut. I would hate to vacuum the floors at an airport at like 3 a.m. on the slow Zamboni they’ve got there. I’ve never seen anything more mind numbing than watching a human sitting on a vacuum cleaning going 5 miles per hour, and very understandably looking half asleep while doing a job that’s only purpose is to ease all creativity and soul from your body. But what do I know? Maybe there’s an upside that I’m missing.

What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Just the title all of our all time favorite Bruce Springsteen album, ‘Nebraska’. And that album alone got us through a lot of long van drives cross country in the early days of the band. It’s a spooky album to listen to on an open highway in the dead of night.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club plays with Pete International Airport Thursday, May 17, at The Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $25 Adv/$28 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com.

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The ’90s are back loud and clear tonight at The Waiting Room — Helmet headlines a show alongside metal dudes Prong. $25, 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Little Brazil: Don’t Call It a Comeback; new album, new line-up, new record label; Modest Mouse tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm May 9, 2018

Members of Little Brazil talked about the new record over slices at Virtuoso Pizza in Benson. From left are Shawn Cox, Landon Hedges and Danny Maxwell. Drummer Nate Van Fleet was missing in action.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The May issue of The Reader is on the racks and with it, my Over the Edge column which this time features an interview with Little Brazil. The band has a new record, Send the Wolves, that drops June 1 on new label Max Trax Records. Conor Oberst contributes to one of the tracks. The album release show also is June 1. I suggest pre-ordering some tasty blue vinyl from this here website. Look, it’s all covered in the article, which is on news stands now, online right here or, heck, just read it below.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Little Brazil returns with a new album, line-up and record label.

Little Brazil is back with a new album that, in my humble opinion, is their best ever.

I write the above without any explanation assuming you and everyone else knows who Little Brazil was, is and will be. Because if you live in Omaha, listen to indie rock and know even a scintilla about the local music scene it’s virtually impossible to not know about the band and its history over the past 14 years.

With frontman Landon Hedges and bassist Danny Maxwell at its core, Little Brazil was always in the conversation as the “next big thing” during the mid-2000s when Saddle Creek Records bands were international commodities and Omaha was being heralded as the “New Seattle” by the likes of the New York Times, Rolling Stone and every publication that followed college music.

The band hit the ground running in 2004 with its debut LP, You and Me, released by former Omahan Mike Jaworski’s Mt. Fuji Records. It was followed by Tighten the Noose in ’07, also on Mt. Fuji, and Son in 2009 on Kansas City’s Anodyne Records. The line-up for those last two featured drummer Oliver Morgan and guitarist Greg Edds. In addition to becoming a staple on Omaha stages, Little Brazil toured the country both as an opening act and headliner.

What kept people coming back was Little Brazil’s sound — part indie, part emo, part punk and unmistakably Nebraskan. Or as I wrote in my first feature on the band way back in 2004: “What gives Little Brazil a leg up on the plethora of indie competition is Hedges’ love for basic melodies, great guitar lines and his strange, childish warble.” No one sings quite like Landon Hedges, his high croon/wail cuts through the deafening wall of guitar, bass and drums like a 10 million lumen beacon through the densest fog.

Little Brazil was always on the edge of breaking through to the next level, but after a year of touring Son, the band hit a wall in 2010 in the form of another band — Desaparecidos. Hedges held a central role in Conor Oberst’s punk-rock side project that re-emerged from a long hiatus with the Concert for Equality. But Desa wasn’t the only reason for Little Brazil’s slowdown.

“I moved to San Diego in 2010 to be with my wife,” Hedges said over slices of pizza and beer at Virtuoso Pizzeria in downtown Benson alongside Maxwell and new guitarist Shawn Cox. “I got married and DMax got married the same year. There was a member switch and, yeah, Desa got back together.”

At the time, Little Brazil was in the middle of writing its next record with new drummer Matt Bowen and new guitarist Mike Friedman, but when Conor calls, you pick up the phone. Desaparecidos recorded and toured off and on for the next five years. “Little Brazil went from doing five shows a year to two and then one,” Maxwell said.

Then in 2015 after Oberst suffered a number of health-related issues, Desaparecidos came to an end. The following January Little Brazil entered ARC Studios with producer Ben Brodin and laid down the tracks for what became Send the Wolves, the new album that comes out June 1 on Max Trax Records (more on that in a minute).

The end of the last Desaparecidos tour is the subject of the first single off the album, “Making a Mess,” that features Oberst once again singing alongside Hedges. “We were sitting in the studio and I texted Conor, ‘You’re missing out on the dubious honor of singing on a Little Brazil song.’ He knew exactly what song I was talking about because Brodin had told him.”

Oberst walked over to the studio (He lives next door) and laid down his vocals. “It was the last song we wrote for the album, it was very special and it was nice that he sang on it,” Hedges said. The two-and-a-half-minute song carries the same energy as a Desparecidos song, with opening lines: “It feels like you’re making a mess / It seems that you’re walking away from something / That you don’t want to say or admit to.”

It’s not the only song on the album reminiscent of Desaparecidos’ style and energy, but instead of politics, Hedges writes about his life, from meeting his wife (“Wait for You”) to growing up in Benson (the infectious “Motorbike”) to his friendship with Maxwell. “This record is as honest as I’ve been on an album,” Hedges says, “and it makes me nervous to have the lyrics printed on the sleeve.”

The lyric sheet is a first for Little Brazil. Another first is releasing the album on vinyl. The label, Max Trax Records (maxtraxrecords.com) was the idea of Marty and Frank Maxwell, Danny Maxwell’s brothers. When Frank passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2016, Marty and Danny launched the label as a tribute to their brother. Today, Max Trax is home to five bands including Little Brazil, with more on the way.

With the new record and new label also comes new personnel for Little Brazil. The aforementioned Shawn Cox has replaced Mike Friedman on lead guitar, while See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet has taken over behind the kit for Matt Bowen. The new line-up already is working on the followup to Send the Wolves, with plans to enter the studio soon.

Hedges and Maxwell will tell you they never had any allusions of making a living just playing music, and now in their mid-30s, they still don’t. “The motivation is just writing and creating new music with the guys,” Hedges said. “I’ll play music ’til the day I die.”

Little Brazil plays with Pro-Magnum and Eric in Outerspace June 1 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $8, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

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

First published May 2018 in The Reader. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lest we forget that tonight Modest Mouse plays at the Ralston Arena. The band’s last album was Strangers to Ourselves in 2015, which also happens to be the last time they came through Omaha, as headliners to that year’s Maha Music Festival. NYC band Mass Gothic opens. The band’s self-titled debut album came out on Sub Pop in 2016. Tickets are $39.50 to $55. 8 p.m. start time.

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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.

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Ten Questions with Stelth Ulvang (Lumineers)(@ The Slowdown 4/20); review: Clarence Tilton / Monday Mourners split LP……

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:00 pm April 19, 2018

Stelth Ulvang plays with Wild Child at The Slowdown April 20.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Though singer/songwriter Stelth Ulvang makes his nut as a traveling member of The Lumineers he’s got his own thing going. His sophomore album, American Boredom, was written between tours with his Lumineer pals and has that same winsome folk-rock style of acts like John Wesley Harding and Michael Penn. “I somehow never stop touring,” said the Ft. Collins native. “I enjoy the DIY and indie contrast (of his current tour) to the Live Nation/ Universal shows the rest of the time.

I caught up with Stelth and he did the ol’ Ten Questions survey. Check it out.

What is your favorite album?

Stelth Ulvang: Forced to pick one, probably Built to Spill, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.

What is your least favorite song?

I really hate “Summer Lovin” UGH it grinds my bones.

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Paid travel

What do you hate about being in a band?

Being in 3 to 5 to 9 relationships.

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Easy, I believe strongly everyone should try psych mushrooms at least once.

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Cape Town, South Africa, has pulled me back 5 or 6 times. Love it.

What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Has ANYONE actually had a good gig in Milwaukee? For a city that prides themselves on their beer consumption, racial segregation, has more riverbank or lakeshore that smells like fish than Chicago, and the cities nickname is “Cream City” Easy answer.

Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Music (with the Lumineers) has become my day job of sorts, but also I suppose last time I brewed coffee for money was 10 years ago! (Salud!).

What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I think I’d be a pretty good salesman at ACE hardware; I would never be a dental assistant. One time a dental assistant asked me what I did for a living, I said, “I’m a musician.” She replied, “I don’t really listen to music.” Jaw dropped.

What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Haha. I have weird hitch hiking stories from Omaha, too long for here. But I’m a big fan of Saddle Creek Records. Shaped my musical scope as I became a musician undoubtedly. But also the Lucky Scalpee is a good one, the one about the crane that stole a child, and the weird one about Pete Postlethwaite having a nervous breakdown in The Drover and a waitress calmed him down and they fell in love and got married…. that one.

Stelth Ulvang plays with Wild Child at The Slowdown Friday, April 20. Tickets are $15 Adv/$17 DOS. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com.

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Q1 2018 record reviews continue. Read them all here at The Reader website.

Clarence Tilton / Monday Mourners, split LP (2018, self-release)

Clarence Tilton / Monday Mourners, split LP (self release) — This is like getting two albums in one because there’s so much material from both of these local bands — six tracks per band. Side one is Clarence Tilton, who provides another set of the best alt-country you’re going to hear this side of Uncle Tupelo. Des Moines’ Monday Mourners is a new discovery, with a sound that ranges from more traditional C&W (“Steal My Time,” “Trouble at Home”) to heavier, snarling country rock (“Blood on the Wheel”) with twanging guitars that float atop a cushion of organ tones. Giddy-up!

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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.

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Ten Questions with Titus Andronicus (@ Slowdown Jr. March 18); They Might Be Giants tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 14, 2018

Titus Andronicus plays March 18 at Slowdown Jr. Photo by Ray Concepcion.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Since 2008 Titus Andronicus music has swayed from one style to the next, from bombastic, fist-in-the-air punk to soaring, swaying sing-along waltzes dense enough to keep a sea barge afloat.

The rock continues on the latest Titus Andronicus collection, A Productive Cough (2017, Merge), that finds singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles flexing his metaphoric pen on music that would sound good next to Exile-era Rolling Stones.

Sunday’s Titus Andronicus show at Slowdown will be an acoustic-only take on this new material, plus some Titus chestnuts. Stickles will be joined by Omaha native, pianist Alex Molini. “No drums, no ‘mosh pit’ every song pretty slow and not as loud,” Stickles said of this current tour.

I caught up with Stickles and asked him to take the Ten Questions survey. Here’s his answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Patrick Stickles: It has been a long time since I declared an album to be my “favorite,” as I don’t much care these days to turn art into any kind of competition. When I did make such lists, I used to say that the self-titled debut of Violent Femmes was my personal number one, though it has been a while since I revisited it, and the adolescent frustration which the album so effectively embodies has slightly faded within me over time. Over the last five years or so, the album I have listened to most is probably Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah, which is so lyrically dense that I can hear it a hundred times and always find new wonders — what a powerful pen.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I try not to give too much emotional energy to the music that I don’t like so when I hear a song that irritates me, I don’t tend to learn its name, but I often find myself getting very frustrated when I am at the grocery store and they play that sort of acoustic, “whoa-oh” music that sounds like the band is wearing suspenders. That music must make some people happy though so I shouldn’t put it down.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

The most rewarding aspect of my career is meeting people who testify that the music has had a positive effect in their life, that it has helped them endure their difficult times. Many people in the audience have gone through struggles similar to my own and I know the power that art has to validate the sufferer and fortify their spirit. It is a great honor to be a part of that exchange and to pay my debt to the artists who have helped me to carry on.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

I adopted two baby cats last year and, of course, they can’t come on tour with me. Leaving them at home was difficult and I miss them very much.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

I smoke a lot of cigarettes, though I do not recommend them.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Performing in New York City is always special, as that is mostly where we all live. As I write this, we are gearing up to play in Toronto, which is a rocking town. Really though, any town with a stage where people are willing to show up and receive the music is fine by me.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

In terms of the quality of the performance, the worst Titus Andronicus gig I can remember was in Oxford, UK, which was marred by extensive equipment malfunctions, out-of-tune guitars, general sloppiness and all those sorts of things which plagued Titus Andronicus for the first five years or so of the career. As far as shows which I enjoyed the least, our last show in Akron, OH was ruined by a certain contingent of drunk bros who took it upon themselves to create and enforce an overly violent, macho vibe on the dance floor, which bothers me to no end. This sort of thing happens more often than I would like, but it is usually the fault of a few bad apples and I try not to let it sour my impression of the whole town, Akron or anyplace else.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I am very blessed that music has been my solitary occupation since 2008, shortly after the first Titus Andronicus album was released. My needs are fairly modest, and it’s not as though I am raking in the dough or figuring that I can retire off this rock and roll thing one day, but I am very grateful that I am able to make my art the focus of my life. There’s no way to know how long that will last, but every day that I get to live the life of the artist is a great gift and I measure my success in those increments.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

The last “regular job” I had before pursuing music full-time was in delivering pizza, so I suppose that if I wasn’t rocking, I would be doing that. Unfortunately, that’s another one of those jobs that is going to be done entirely by robots in a few years. Before that first album came out, I was studying to become a schoolteacher, but I can hardly even imagine doing anything like that now — young people are crazy, especially with those phones they’ve got these days.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

The pianist accompanying me on this tour is a fellow named Alex Molini and he is a native of Omaha. He speaks very fondly of his childhood years and he makes it sound as though Omaha is full of a lot of decent, good-hearted people with strong values. Of course, I have been to Omaha several times myself, always enjoying it thoroughly, and I am sure that our show at Slowdown will be a worthy addition to my expanding book of Nebraskan memories.

Titus Andronicus plays with Rick Maguire (Pile) Sunday, March 18 at Slowdown Front Room, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $13 Adv/ $15 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com.

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They Might Be Giants returns to The Slowdown tonight. From the promo: “They’re back on the road with a new show with an expanded line-up of musicians. This new set will include all-time favorites, fresh rarities spanning their epic career, and spur-of-the-moment improvisations that will delight even their exhausted road crew.”

They have a new 15-track album called I Like Fun that sounds like everything they’ve ever done over their 37-year career. Check out the setlist from last night’s show in KC. $25, 8 p.m., no opening act.

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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

Ten Questions with Molly Burch (@ O’Leaver’s March 6); Esme Patterson tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:50 pm March 5, 2018

Molly Burch plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s Tuesday, March 6. Photo by Helene Tchen Cardenas.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Molly Burch comes from a jazz vocal background, having studied the art at University of North Carolina in Asheville. But it wasn’t until she started writing songs that she began capturing the attention of a larger audience.

Her debut LP, Please Be Mine (2017, Captured Tracks) is a lonely, winsome collection of heart-ache love songs sung with a voice that’s been compared to Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday. To me, the record sounds like Nancy Sinatra meets Mazzy Star, distinctly modern and dreamy with touches of sentimental, vintage arrangements.

I caught up with Molly and asked her to take my Ten Questions survey, and she bashfully agreed.

1. What is your favorite album?

Molly Burch: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

2. What is your least favorite song?

That’s tough so I will not answer it!

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Getting to know a small group of people really well.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

When personalities clash.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Diet coke.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

I love performing in LA because that is where I’m from and also New York because I get to see everyone at my label.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Ugh, again, tough. I don’t want to offend any cities or towns! Pass!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Sort of, but mostly because I live super cheaply. I also nanny to help pay bills along with other occasional side jobs.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I love to set up shows and also plan and host parties…maybe a wedding planner? Lol, I don’t know. And I would hate any profession that involved a lot of public speaking.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I’ve heard of the Runza.

Molly Burch plays with Thick Paint and Sean Pratt & The Sweats Tuesday, March 6 at O’Leaver’s, 1322 S. Saddle Creek Rd. The show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $8. For more information, go to liveatoleavers.com.

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Denver’s Esme Patterson (Grand Jury Records) gets the Hi-Fi House treatment tonight, starting with a 6 p.m. Q&A followed by an intimate performance by Patterson and her band. A “special guest” Omaha songwriter opens prior to her set. Entry is free for Hi-Fi House members, general public tickets are available on a first-come first-served basis for $25.

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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

Ten Questions with White Mystery (at O’Leaver’s March 4)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:06 pm February 28, 2018

White Mystery plays at O’Leaver’s March 4. Photo by BANGTEL/By the Barkers

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A favorite memory of past South By Southwest festivals was seeing White Mystery play outside at seminal Austin punk venue Beerland. The duo of Miss Alex White on guitar/vocals and Francis Scott Key White on drums belted out their usual ragged-edged garage rock startling passers-by on Red River Street. Before long, a mob formed blocking traffic in all directions.

It was like seeing local heroes make good, as the Chicago siblings have made Omaha a regular tour stop on their many national sojourns, like the one they’re currently on in support of their latest album, the blistering F.Y.M.S. that brings them to fabulous O’Leaver’s March 4.

Check out what Alex had to say in the Ten Questions survey:

1. What is your favorite album?

Miss Alex White: Who’s Next by the Who

2. What is your least favorite song?

Taylor Swift “Shake It Off.” Fight me!

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

The best part about being in a band is the open road ahead of you. It’s a very free feeling of independence.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The worst part is the claustrophobia of being stuck in a vehicle all day, that sets in shortly thereafter.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

My favorite substance is ice cream. My least favorite is mushrooms.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Omaha is an awesome city to play in the Midwest because everyone is very down-to-earth, loving, and yet wild-out rock’n’roll. I spun records after Farnham Fest and realized how much everyone appreciated the DJ set, which is a really good, validating feeling. Doing that again at O’Leavers this time around. Beyond that, White Mystery shows in New York are always sold out, bonkers affairs. I also love playing Stockholm, Sweden, because it feels so geographically far away, yet super familiar.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Angers, France, was one of the worst gigs ever, because of what happened afterwards — we stayed in an absolutely pest-infested apartment above the ancient venue. A carpet of tens of thousands of cockroaches dispersed when the door opened! It’s hard to relax in that kind of environment.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Yes, White Mystery has been full-time for eight years. It required a lot of saving while reinvesting income into growth opportunities, like self-released albums and merchandise. The first four years, we did not buy any new clothes, shoes or recreational items. We have toured in the same hatchback this whole time, which is great on gas, but a sacrifice in comfort. The best way to get ahead is to do what is right for you, versus what you think people expect you to do. Take calculated risks to advance your career.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

One profession I would like to attempt is cartoon animator! I would be a terrible veterinarian though, because I’m extremely allergic to most animals.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Legends about our pals in Digital Leather, The Faint, Solid Dave Goldberg, and the Box Elders circulate worldwide. Love you all!

White Mystery plays with Those Far Out Arrows and FiFI NoNo Sunday, March 4, at O’Leaver’s, 1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd. $7, 5 p.m. For more information, go to liveatoleavers.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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review Matt Whipkey, Charlie Ames; Ten Questions with Palehound (@ Slowdown Jr. 2/27)…

Category: Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm February 26, 2018

Matt Whipkey and his band at Reverb Lounge Feb. 25, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Matt Whipkey helmed two album-release shows this past weekend — one on Friday night and a second in the early evening yesterday for old folks like me, I guess. In fact there were a lot of older people seated at tables in the Reverb’s stage room, making the concert feel more like a matinee performance than a rock show, though Whipkey did all he could to give the room a rock show vibe.

Whipkey and his core band of Zimmerman, Sing and Anderson (a perfect name for a law firm) ripped through a set of songs off his new double-LP Driver, which currently stands as my favorite Whipkey release. Like an episode of Storytellers Matt gave background between every song while he feverishly re-tuned his guitar (We were told that the songs off Driver have a variety of “tonal colors” that required alternate tuning).  Unlike on the recording, there were no keyboards at these weekend performances, which (to me) gave the set a more rocking feel.

One of those between-song stories was Matt telling the crowd about a convo he and I had during our interview. I had told Matt that, while I like the song “Fred, You’re Dead,” that it would be perfect candidate to be revamped into a punk song, especially considering the political nature of the lyrics. Lo and behold, Matt pulled out a punk verson of the usually slow, dour song, and it, indeed, ripped. The punk “Fred…” would make a perfect 7-inch single just in time for Record Store Day. Come on, Matt!

Charlie Ames at Reverb Lounge, Feb. 25, 2018.

Opening Sunday evening was singer/songwriter Charlie Ames, who performed an acoustic set of originals. Ames had a striking voice and a nice guitar style on a set of broken-hearted pop songs of the woe-is-me variety. A very talened dude, I’d love to see him write a set of songs that stretched him more creatively.

Palehound plays at Slowdown Jr. Feb. 27, 2018.

Ten Questions with Palehound

Led by singer/songwriter Ellen Kempner, Boston’s Palehound released their sophomore album, A Place I’ll Always Go, on Polyvinyl Records last summer (which received a 7.3 rating from Pitchfork, for those who care about such things).  Since then, the indie combo also dropped a new 7-inch release — “YMCA Pool” b/w “Sea of Blood” — as part of Saddle Creek Records’ Document Series singles program.

Having recently finished a U.S. headlining tour, which included shows with Big Thief, Jay Som, Mitski, and M Ward, Palehound launched a co-headlining tour with Weaves that brings them to Slowdown Feb. 27. We asked Kempner to take our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what she had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Ellen Kempner: I definitely don’t have one! My favorite album of this week has been Jolene by Dolly Parton.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I hate “Blurred Lines.”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Getting to travel and see the country in a way I never would be able to without music.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Being anxious about shows/people liking our music.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Soda

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Hometown Boston shows are great because our friends are there.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Fort Worth, Texas,  the only people we played for were the two teenagers who were in the other band that played.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

(No comment.)

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

Cooking!! I love cooking and used to work as a cook in a restaurant and loved it. I wouldn’t wanna be a professional runner.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Honestly my answer will be really bad cuz all of them just have to do with Conor Oberst.

Palehound plays with Weaves and See Through Dresses Tuesday, Feb. 27, at The Slowdown front room, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $10 Adv/$12 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers (Feb. 22 @ The Slowdown)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:05 pm February 20, 2018

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers play The Slowdown Thursday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Being the self-proclaimed indie music snob that I am, I typically would never have discovered Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers. I mean, the Michigan-based band has been classified in the jam band / funk / pop category, has counted major label Universal among its distributors. and has been known to perform in Hawaiian shirts. That’s about as far away from “indie” as it gets.

But after receiving multiple emails from their publicist, I watched the video for the single “Lonely” off their Kickstarter-financed latest release, Pluto, and found myself tapping my toe. When I read via Wiki that Hertler started the band in an effort to get the attention of a girl who hosted an open-mic night, I was hooked.

Hertler was game to take the Ten Questions survey. Here’s what he had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Joe Hertler: It’s basically impossible to pick my favorite, but off the top of my head, maybe Black Radio by Robert Glasper? Sgt Peppers and maybe Live in Verona by Jamiroquai are up there, too.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I love It, by Iconopop. My sax player uses it as a wake up song sometimes for the band when everyone’s been sleeping in the van and we’ve reached our destination. I really do not care to ever hear that song again.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Obviously playing music is super fun, but the adventure of tour with my bandmates (and getting to visiting and reconnect with friends and family in distant locations) is ultimately what makes it the most meaningful.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?


It can be stressful at times, but honestly we have a pretty damn good time playing music together and keeping each other in good spirits. It’s important to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of others. It’s also just as important to take care of yourself, you know, like exercising, eating decently, sleeping, and doing fun shit that doesn’t have to do with music, like hiking, site seeing, etc. If you’re aware of how your behaviors affect your bandmates, then really, there’s really not too much to hate. You gotta embrace all aspects of band life.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

I think they’re all pretty damn fun 😉

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Michigan, Mountain States, and the West Coast have always treated us very, very well!

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

We had a sound system take a shit on us at a gig in Ashville. This was also after the promoter moved us to their rave cave room because there were issues with original room we were going to play. The heat went out, too, so it was like 50 degrees in the venue. Made for kind of a rough show. Honestly, though, we don’t really have bad shows. We tend to get pissed and nit-pick over little fuck-ups, but being critical of oneself is just part of it. Certainly doesn’t determine whether a show is good or bad. As long as the crowd is engaged, which they always seem to be – that’s what makes a show good.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Yep! We do various side hustles, but for the most part we support ourselves through music. Aaron is an ex-engineer and part-time chainsaw carver. I used to be a teacher. Micah and Ryan do some work for our producer’s company on the side, and Rick makes giant mechanical wooden clocks.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

I would love to make horror movies!

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Haven’t heard many stories, but there’s some really great music happening in Omaha. My buddy, Rick Carson, owns a really incredible studio called Make Believe, which is a really hot space right now. Of course, there’s the Saddle Creek label. It’s a pretty bad-ass city 🙂

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers plays with Here Come the Mummies Thursday, Feb. 22, at The Slowdown, . Tickets are $22 Adv/$25 DOS. Show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, go to TheSlowdown.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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Behind the wheel with Matt Whipkey; Diet Cig, The Spook School tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:42 pm February 6, 2018

Matt Whipkey behind the wheel of his Town and Country.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader is a feature on Matt Whipkey’s new album, Driver, which Whipkey will be celebrating with a pair of shows later this month at Reverb.  You can read the story online here, or in the printed version of The Reader, which should be on newsstands now or in the very near future. Or you can just read it below…

Uber Confessions
Rocker Matt Whipkey’s new album captures life behind the wheel.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, the next time you call for an Uber or Lyft after a hard night of partying, you’ll get Matt Whipkey.

He’s the guy who drives the black 2010 Chrysler Town and Country. The guy with the perfect hair.

“OK, here’s a weird one I had last night,” Whipkey said during some off time on a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Zen Coffee. “This woman grabbed me too many times during the ride. I felt uncomfortable. She was in her 40s or 50s and told me she’d just done drugs. She didn’t tell me which ones, but by the way she was acting I can only guess. It happens. I wasn’t scared.”

But there have been plenty of times when he was scared.

“One time I picked up these guys at Oscar’s at around 8 p.m. It was three dudes. Two of them were average people, but one was huge, six-nine, a big guy, bigger than everybody. He was intoxicated and excitable. They were going to this strip club, American Dream off 72nd and F, and this guy gets excited and says ‘We’re gonna see naked chicks’ and he starts jumping up and down, shaking the whole car, then grabs my shoulders and starts shaking me, lifting me up and down. We’re on the Interstate doing 80. I said, ‘You’ve got to stop him.’ But this guy could easily have taken all three of us.”

Whipkey, one of the smoothest talkers you’ll ever meet, somehow calmed the monster and got him to put him down. “You get really good at conflict avoidance, de-escalating the situation,” Whipkey said. “I dropped them off and reported it to Uber immediately. The sad thing was that it was on his friend’s account, and that guy — not the big guy — will get banned from Uber for it.”

Whipkey’s been driving for Uber and Lyft for two years as a side hustle from his regular job teaching guitar lessons and being a rock star. As a result, he’s got a million stories about life behind the wheel hauling drunks, druggies, bigots, homophobes, horn dogs, celebrities and normal folks like you and me.

“I’ve given rides to the most down-on-their-luck people to the most desolate places in Omaha and also given rides to billionaires to their private air strips. It’s a strange equalizer. For that fraction of time, it doesn’t matter. It’s my car. I’m driving you. There’s trust there.”

Matt Whipkey, Driver (self-release, 2018)

It’s a job that inspired the songs on Whipkey’s latest album, the double LP Driver, which he and his band will showcase Feb. 23 and 25 at Reverb Lounge. The collection is 14 portraits of loneliness, desperation and inner monologues (along with a Beatles cover), all of which rock, at least most of the time.

Whipkey, known for his catchy, guitar-fueled pop songs and bombastic stage presence, stretches in new directions on this record, most notably with the album’s opening and closing tracks that bookend the collection with warm, acoustic touches and unexpected keyboards. The songs contrast nicely with riff-rock ballads that underscore Whipkey’s guitar prowess and his tight backing band consisting of Travis Sing, bass; Scott Zimmerman, drums; Korey Anderson, guitars; and keyboard player J. Scott Gaeta.

The thread that ties it together is Whipkey’s breathy, growling vocals, which do their best to coax every last drop of emotion from these lonely stories, like the longing “Amy Knows” about a woman who just transferred to Omaha and has “fourteen days to fix a lifetime” and the rocking, Nugent-esque screamer “The Driver” where Whipkey keeps a tight stranglehold on his blazing ax.

Whipkey spent a good nine months recording the album with Scott Gaeta at Gaeta’s Music Factory Productions studio, laying down tracks when he wasn’t on the road. During that same time, he also recorded his previous album, the 2017 pop collection Best New Music. All of this came shortly after opening 30 dates for music legend Dwight Yoakam on his 2015-2016 tours.

The week prior to this interview, Whipkey opened for ’70s legacy act America in Sioux City, Iowa. He hopes to get more of those kinds of large-stage gigs, though he’s just as determined to get his music heard in his home town.

“The goal was to make the best record with the resources we had,” Whipkey said. “I don’t have the national mentality of ‘This song is going to take you to the next level.’ I want this to take me to the next level as a songwriter and as an artist. If you think in that regard, it will translate into other areas where people will recognize that you’re growing and doing something that no one else is doing.”

Matt Whipkey and his band perform with Stephen Sheehan Friday, Feb. 23, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Whipkey will perform a second show at Reverb Sunday, Feb. 25, with Charlie Ames at 6 p.m. Both shows are $10. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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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Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of Diet Cig. The band has made Omaha a regular tour stop of the past few years, even making a special appearance at 2016’s Maha Music Festival. This tour marks the first time the band is playing as a 4-piece, as the duo will be joined on stage by Anna from The Spook School (bass) and Karli from Plush (keyboards/vox). The Spook School will actually open tonight’s show, along with Great Grandpa. $15, 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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