Live Review: Hottman Sisters in the park; Ten Questions with Laura Gibson; The Garden tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:07 pm June 20, 2016
The Hottman Sisters at Aksarben Village, June 18, 2016.

The Hottman Sisters at Aksarben Village, June 18, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

While people are loudly muttering about a local festival that dropped the ball over the weekend (I’m looking at you River City Music Festival), another pseudo festival was carried off nicely. I’m talking about the Proseeds show at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, which happened Saturday night.

About 500 people were lazing on the green when I was there just after 7:30 to see Hottman Sisters’ set. There were food and other vendors and along with about a dozen cops — I saw more cops at this tiny one-day local show than I’ve ever seen at a Maha Festival, they were everywhere, smiling, talking to people, looking as if they were enjoying the show as much as the audience.

As for the Hottman Sisters, the duo (supported by a drummer and bassist) kicked through a set of mostly uptempo pop songs. They’re marketed as an indie rock band, but their sound lies closer to alt country, thanks to an overhanging rural lilt to their harmonies and guitar style. I think they’re going for a sort of Decemberists thing with a touch of Lilith — a predictable description, I suppose.

* * *

Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan at Reverb Lounge Tuesday, June 21. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan at Reverb Lounge Tuesday, June 21. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

Ten Questions with Laura Gibson…

Singer/songwriter Laura Gibson’s life is at a crossroads. Originally from Portland, Gibson has been releasing albums since her 2006 debut If You Come to Meet Me (Hush Records). These days she’s on Barsuk/City Slang and lives in NYC where she studied to be a fiction writer. In fact, her new album, Empire Builder, which came out in April, was inspired by the name of the Amtrak route she took while crossing the country to her new home (and bears a resemblance to a certain Simon and Garfunkel song about a couple lost in America). But shortly after she arrived, her East Village apartment burned to the ground, an experience that “will continue to be, something that shapes me for the rest of my life. I cannot separate that experience from these songs,” she said.

There is a haunting poise to Empire Builder, a solemn intimacy that’s warm and pleasant and heartfelt. Contributors on the album include members of Death Cab for Cutie, Decemberists and Neko Case’s band, an artist whose style her music most resembles.

I asked Gibson to take our Ten Questions survey, and she obliged:

What is your favorite album?

Laura Gibson: Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen

2. What is your least favorite song?

There’s a song that keeps playing at my gym that says something like, “Girl you’re beautiful because you don’t know you’re beautiful.” I don’t know its name, but I hate it.

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

Getting to meet and connect with people all over the world.

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

Being away from home so often.

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

Tie between coffee and wine.

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

New York; Spring Green, Wisconsin; tiny German towns.

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

I had a few rough SXSW shows in Austin, but they’ve became pleasant/comedic in memory. Bad shows always make for good stories.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Music: a combination of tour income, royalties and licensing for film and commercials.

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

I would like to write novels and I would like to do some sort of social justice advocacy work. I would be terrible at law enforcement.

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

There is such an incredible music community in Omaha, so I feel like I’ve gotten to know it through song. I’ve heard stories of tornado alerts (but no actual tornado stories).

Laura Gibson opens for David Bazan Tuesday, July 2,1 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $15. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s Orange County punk duo The Garden (Burger, Epitaph), along with local boys Shrinks and Guts. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug; Silversphere, Worried Mothers tonight; Proseeds Festival, Those Far Out Arrows Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:35 pm June 17, 2016
Charly Bliss at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

Charly Bliss at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we get to the weekend…

I was pretty spot-on with my original comparisons to Charly Bliss: Weezer meets The Breeders with Cyndi Lauper-esque vocals thrown in for good measure. What I missed (and what became more apparent from the Reverb stage last night) was the touchstones to ’90s band That Dog, who I assume frontwoman Eva Hendricks and Co. never heard of so it probably doesn’t count. Though if they listened to, say, 1995’s Totally Crushed Out, they may recognize similar melodic and harmonic tendencies, tendencies which I’ve always loved.

When you consider the wave of female-fronted heavy/’90s-sounding bands currently stomping across American Indie — Diet Cig and Dilly Dally among them — Charly Bliss has one-upped them if only by having a better ear for melody, a broader variety of song styles and Hendricks’ unmistakable vocal style. When heard on the band’s earlier recordings, you got a sense she was always about to spin out of control in a glowing ball of uber-cuteness (Imagine Jennifer Tilly singing rock songs). But last night (and on the band’s recent single, “Ruby”) Hendricks keeps it under control, and it’s for the better, though she can’t help to let out a yelping scream-squeak every once in a while.

We all knew we were in for something weird on the set’s last song when Hendricks unstrapped her guitar and put her pedal board away to give her more room to move. And move she did, like a girl possessed, hopping and thrashing her arms as if having a seizure while the rest of the band practiced their feedback-fueled riffage for what seemed like five minutes. She ended the number by pounding her belly with both hands much in the same way Charlie Babbitt pounded his head in Rain Man. Crazy fun from a band you’ll be hearing more from.

Lightning Bug at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

Lightning Bug at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

As for opener Lightning Bug, I think I’ll need to update that list I published yesterday. I’ve never caught these guys before last night, and now I’m sorry for all the previous nights I missed. In fact, I only caught the last three songs of their set and I’m a little pissed about that.

An indie-rock four-piece, there’s a preciseness about their sound that elevates above garage and recalls Three of a Perfect Pair-era King Crimson, thanks to frontman David Moore’s at times intricate guitarwork, which swapped between old-fashioned tapping technique and all-out riffage. Add Moore’s tuneful howl — one of the more unique voices I’ve heard from an Omaha band — and they’re onto something. I ran home and listened to their Soundcloud recordings since they weren’t selling anything at the show (that I could see). When’s the next show, boys?

* * *

So, looks like it’s gonna be another O’Leaver’s weekend…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s electronic post-punk band Silversphere headlines. The band features Owen Cleasby and Ken Brock, who you may remember from the previous incarnation as The Lepers. Opening the show is gritty garage rock goodness of Worried Mothers and new trio, Was. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, local punk band No Thanks has a tape release show at Milk Run. Opening is Bien Fang and Super Moon. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Proseeds, a local firm that helps generate money for non-profits, is hosting a free local music festival at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village Saturday evening. Among the performers are All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Routine Escorts and State Disco. See the full line-up here.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Those Far Out Arrows. Opening is Heavy Lungs and KC band Psychic Heat (High Dive Records). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Start your evening off early Saturday with an in-store show at Almost Music in the Blackstone District. On the card are Topeka experimental act Aaron Martin with Erinome (Aaron Hansen) and Sopor (Zach Schiermann). $5, 7 p.m.

And that’s the sum of it. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great Father’s Day weekend…

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Cultural Attraction, Sons of O’Leaver’s, Little Brazil sing ‘Happy Birthday’…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm June 13, 2016
Cultural Attraction at O'Leaver's, June 11, 2016.

Cultural Attraction at O’Leaver’s, June 11, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

About halfway through the Sons of O’Leaver’s set Saturday night, frontman Kelly Maxwell pulled out something draped on a coat hanger, covered in what appeared to be white butcher’s paper, and presented it to man-of-the-hour, bass player Mike Tulis. I didn’t take notes, but Maxwell said something like, “We usually wear jackets when we play, but it’s just too hot up here.” (It was abysmally hot inside O’Leaver’s despite the AC blowing full blast).

BTW, this moment happened halfway through a song halfway through the set, while the band played on. Maxwell pulled the butcher paper from the hanger to reveal an impressive black sports jacket, heavy wool, probably around a 38 regular. Spray-painted on back in white: the number 50. The crowd went wild as Tulis held it high, later donning the jacket for the rest of the set.

Saturday night not only was a celebration of Tulis’ 50th birthday, but also 25 years of Tulis performing in bands, the first of which kicked off the evening. Cultural Attraction played a solid selection of songs from their two cassette releases from the early ’90s. Highlights included trippy acoustic-driven versions of such chestnuts as the politically charged “Anita Hill,” and personal favorite “Good Ol’ Days,” wherein the singer had to refer to a sheet of notebook paper. That was the only song, however, where notes were needed.

Cultural Attraction’s groovy, acoustic-guitar driven music was propelled by John Riley pounding away on a fine set of  congas. Yes, congas. But the real power of their music came from the voices and the harmonies, which were as strong as ever. CA drew the biggest crowd of the night, a testimony to a band that likely hasn’t played together in 20 years.

Sons of O'Leaver's, June 11, 2016.

Sons of O’Leaver’s, June 11, 2016.

They were followed by Sons of O’Leaver’s. The four-piece, that features Tulis on bass and Matt Rutledge on guitar, sounds sort of like a cross between early Spoon (Maxwell’s voice is a gravelly version of Britt Daniel’s) and The Replacements. Drummer Mike Loftis’ stick work was particularly impressive Saturday night.

Little Brazil at O'Leaver's, June 11, 2016.

Little Brazil at O’Leaver’s, June 11, 2016.

Little Brazil closed out the evening with a short set that included a handful of songs off their upcoming record. Frontman Landon Hedges led the crowd in an impromptu version of “Happy Birthday” that included an interlude where Tulis thanked everyone for coming out. Good times indeed.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Christopher the Conquered; Tokyo Police Club, WWPJ, Lee Bains III tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm June 6, 2016
Christopher the Conquered at O'Leaver's, June 3, 2016.

Christopher the Conquered at O’Leaver’s, June 3, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My birthday night was spent at O’Leaver’s Friday night, where I enjoyed many a Rolling Rock (thanks to Josh and Landon) while enjoying the bar’s new beer garden and watching Christopher the Conquered. O’Leaver’s isn’t just a bar, it’s an “Entertainment Complex,” what with its volleyball courts, tiki bar, beer garden and one of the best sounding rock rooms in Omaha.

Christopher the Conquered also was celebrating something Friday night — the release of his debut LP, I’m Giving Up on Rock & Roll. Backed by a full band,  Christopher belted out a set of piano-driven rock that at times was Broadway-ready. In fact, he should consider developing something for the stage to go along with his theatrical style. I heard people compare him to early Elton John, Freddy Mercury, even Elvis Costello. He reminded me of Minneapolis’ Mark Mallman, who has been doing a similar glammy-style keyboard-driven rock since the late ’90s.

Opening was Rothsteen a.k.a. Peedi Rothsteen formerly of Voodoo Method. A one-man act, Rothsteen sings R&B over pre-recorded beats and tracks. There’s no question he has a terrific voice, but you have to wonder how much further he could go with it if he had a live band backing him.

A couple red hot shows tonight.

The first is Tokyo Police Club and We Were Promised Jetpacks at The Slowdown (big room). Remember when TPC were on Saddle Creek and everyone thought they were going to be the next big thing? WWPJ did a Ten Questions interview last week (read it here). $18, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, yet another Sub Pop band performs at Milk Run. This time it’s Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. Hailing from Alabama, the band sounds like the reincarnation of Bad Company right down to Lee Bains’ uncanny similarity to Paul Rodgers. Here’s another act with a huge sound that will be crammed inside the micro confines of Milk Run. Pyrate and Detachable Limbs open. $8, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

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.

 

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Live Review: Arbor Labor Union, Was; Purity Ring, Bud Bronson and the Good Timers tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:44 pm May 31, 2016
Arbor Labor Union at Milk Run May 28, 2016.

Arbor Labor Union at Milk Run May 28, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You’ve read about those shows where only a few people show up but the band still throws its all into the performance? Well Saturday night’s Arbor Labor Union show at The Milk Run falls into that category.

Only about 10 people were in the house when ALU took the stage and proceeded to blow the roof off Milk Run. The Georgia-based four piece that records on Sub Pop plays a hypnotic style of rock that’s based around a repeated riff driven over and over while various members fill in the spaces with bits of improvisation. Once they find their groove, the songs can chug along for 5, 10, 15 minutes or more, with the lead singer throwing in his howling John Lydon-style vocals on top of the grind.

Closest comparisons (to me) are Strand of Oaks (for sheer power), The Feelies (for hypnotic rhythms) and Red House Painters (for holding onto a sonic idea for as long as it takes). This band is a surprise find, a heavy-weight rock act whose new album, I Hear You, I’ve yet to grow tired of (I picked up a double-vinyl copy after their set).

Each song was at least 10 minutes long. The first song went on what seemed like twice that long, and could have gone on even longer for my taste. And despite the sparse crowd, the band seemed genuinely pleased to be there and playing. They closed out with a grinding, throbbing cover of “Born to be Wild” whose primary melody was all but unrecognizable. Amazing.

Some might say these micro-sized shows are exactly what Milk Run was designed for — a small room for small-drawing shows. No one wants to play to a dozen people in a huge empty room. That said, Arbor Labor Union’s sound was too large for such a small venue. The under-powered PA, could barely be heard over the rest of the band, which meant vocals were all but lost in the din. But that was the only disappointing thing about the performance.

Opening act Was could take some pointers from Arbor Labor Union when it comes to song length. This new band, consisting of Gordon’s Aaron Parker on guitar/vocals, drummer Jeremy Stanosheck of Relax, It’s Science fame and Ali-Jo Meyerhoff on bass/keys and vocals, reminded me at times of Galaxy 500 in style and tone (and drone). I’d have loved for a few of their songs to be extended beyond their short 3- to 5-minute length. Was only played for about 15 minutes. Hopefully the band will be growing its set — this was only their second gig.

* * *

The big Purity Ring show is tonight at Sokol Auditorium. Expect a first-class production, based on what we saw at last year’s Maha Music Festival. Opening is Canadian pop experimentalist Lydia Ainsworth. $22, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Denver band Bud Bronson and the Good Timers headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Briner and Gerald Lee, Jr. (Filter Kings, Cactus Nerve Thang). $7, 9 p.m.

And Milk Run tonight has Lincoln’s Powerful Science along with Terror Pigeon and Curt Owen. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club; So So Glos tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm May 23, 2016
Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016.

Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You wouldn’t have thought Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room was only the second live gig for Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club. But then again, we’re talking about a band filled with music veterans doing what they do best.

The band, which includes Conor Oberst and his wife, Corina Figueroa, surrounded by some of the best musicians in town (read about the band’s origins here), fancies itself as a country & western act but really falls into the Americana / country rock category. I was reminded of Robbie Robertson and The Band throughout Saturday night’s set, how each member sang lead on a handful of C&W classics not so much in an effort to replicate the original’s sound, but to adapt its style to a modern construction.

That said, you could point to a handful of players that added a level of authenticity to the proceedings. First on the list was pedal steel player Mike Mogis, because let’s face it, pedal steel makes everything sound country, and as a world-class producer, Mogis knows his way around any genre. Dan McCarthy’s keyboards also brought a classic western feel to the arrangements, and then, surprisingly, Matt Maginn’s bass work included all the note bends heard on the honky-tonk circuit.

Maybe most authentic of all was Figueroa, who sang leads on about half the songs. Figueroa’s rough-edged voice is pure Tammy Wynette. What she lacks in range she makes up for in heart, throwing herself into every note, leaving little doubt that she loves this music. Joining Figueroa was a new face to the Standby Club — First Aid Kit’s Klara Söderberg, going by the stage name of Greta Soundmountain, whose spot-on pitch brought everything into focus.

The band split their performance into two sets with a brief intermission. The first set featured a lot of the same songs played this past January at O’Leaver’s (which you can hear online here). The highlight was a new song featuring Phil Schaffart, who was absent during their debut performance. Schaffart, a giant of a man with a high voice reminiscent of Neil Young’s, covered John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.” Gorgeous stuff.

Another new song from the first set was “Stay a Little Longer” by Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys. If you’re wondering how I know this with zero background in country music, the secret involved tapping song lyrics into Google.

The band took five and then came back with a rocking version of Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” featuring Miwi La Lupa on lead vocals. Figueroa and Greta sang a duet of Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” which was followed by Oberst belting out the Felice Brothers’ “Rockefeller Drug Law Blues.”

As he did in January, Oberst performed Randy Newman’s “Jolly Coppers on Parade.” He was in good voice, looking a bit isolated and laid back playing guitar at stage-right in crumpled jacket and jet-black fright-wig hairdo. He led the band on the night’s final song, a round robin version of the Dylan song he sang in January, but sharing verses with his cohorts.

Saturday night’s show was well attended. No idea of the final number, but it was crowded throughout the bar, and the event had a rock concert feel to it despite the C&W content. Was it “real country”? It was certainly more real than the mainstream “bro-country” that dots the charts these days, though the overall tone felt more like something Levon Helm would admire.

I have no doubt if the entire band had the capacity to tour, Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club could do well on the road, but Oberst said there were no plans for anything like that. This one’s just for fun, something to share with his friends and his fans before he hits the road again for a handful of solo dates this summer, topped by three days at the Austin City Limits Festival in October. After that, who knows.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Brooklyn punk rockers So So Glos headline. Opening is Canadian band The Dirty Nil and our very own Montee Men. $5, 9:30 p.m. This one should be fun.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Shannon & the Clams on the river, Halfwit; Ten Questions with A Giant Dog (at Milk Run tonight)…

Shannon & The Clams performing aboard The River City Star, May 15, 2016.

Shannon & The Clams performing aboard The River City Star, May 15, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m growing tired of this cold weather. I imagined how much more pleasant last night’s “Sailin’ and Wailin’ Boat Cruise on the River City Star” would have been had the temps been 20 degrees warmer. Instead, it was cold and windy and I’m happy I wore my insulated hoodie.

Weather issues aside, Perpetual Nerves has a hit on its hands if it decides to do more of these River City Star concerts, because last night’s was a blast. The cruise couldn’t have gone smoother. If you weren’t on board by 6:55 you were left standing on the shore. In fact, I know one party of people, only seconds late, who had to practically fight their way to the deck (heroically saved by booker Sam Parker).

The River City Star is a small two-story river boat that launches from Freedom Park near the Gallup campus. The festive bottom deck was where the free keg and cash bar were located. Those standing in line were serenaded by the finest party music (from Prince to  Tom Tom Club) via a DJ. With drink in hand it was up to the top deck where Nathan Ma and The Rosettes were already performing as the boat drifted away from the dock. I recognized among the band mates Sarah Bohling of Icky Blossoms adding vocals. Their music was a mix of garage and indie, including a cover of The La’s “There She Goes” that got the loudest applause.

They were followed at 8 p.m. sharp by Shannon and the Clams, an Oakland-based four piece that played early ’60s-style garage rock with doo-wap and surf elements. It felt very much like a very hip sock hop played on a drifting dance floor, all the while floating past either Deliverance-style river-bottoms foliage or urban industrial decay. For every bit of picturesque wildlife (geese, flying fish) there was a reminder that you were adrift on a river of dark brown sewage.  Floating up and down the Missouri River, we were met time and time again by a large white half-submerged floating upright refrigerator. Was there someone inside it, traveling to the Gulf of Mexico? We’ll never know.

The sound, by the way, was amazing. No doubt the river people, who were either fishing or dumping garbage along the shore, could easily hear the bands, and wondered who those lucky bastards having the time of their lives?

The obvious question on everyone’s minds: Why doesn’t Perpetual Nerves book these cruises all the time, or at least once a month during the warm months? Especially considering it sold out the same day it was announced (within hours of the announcement).

Halfwit at O'Leaver's, May 13, 2016.

Halfwit at O’Leaver’s, May 13, 2016.

Friday night I caught Halfwit at O’Leaver’s. The Lincoln band fronted by Dan Jenkins of Ideal Cleaners and including bass-playing madman Saber Blazek crushed the crowd with heavy rock that bordered on proggy metal. The guitar interplay between Jenkins and guitarist Kevin Waltemath was next level amazing. Unfortunately the usually high-flying Blazek was seated for the performance, a victim of some sort of foot injury judging by the massive isolation boot he was wearing. I tried to imagine him at full thrash. Probably would have take out a wall or two. I’m told the performance was recorded for a possible future Live at O’Leaver’s set. Keep your fingers crossed.

Well Aimed Arrows at O'Leaver's May 13, 2016.

Well Aimed Arrows at O’Leaver’s May 13, 2016.

Last up was Well Aimed Arrows playing their usual brand of stripped down, minimalistic post New Wave music that combines almost atonal vocals with intricate rhythms. People who “get them” love them, and those who don’t are left scratching their heads. Their loss. If you grew up with very early REM or Wire — of if you’re old enough to remember groundbreaking ’90s Omaha band The Protoculture — seek them out immediately.

* * *

A Giant Dog plays at Milk Run tonight.

A Giant Dog plays at Milk Run tonight.

Tonight at Milk Run Austin indie band A Giant Dogs perform. Just this second, I received back a Ten Questions response from the band. Here it is:

1. What is your favorite album? 

A Giant Dog: Sparks,  Angst In My Pants. This is one of our favorite albums and we have been doing a cover of “Angst In My Pants” at our shows recently. Sparks had a big influence on us when recording the new record, PILE, and this album is on repeat while driving on tour.

2. What is your least favorite song?

It’s a never ending list. Nothing in particular comes to mind.

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

We started our band as a way to have fun, make music and hangout with other bands in Austin and around the country. We’ve also been close friends since high school and played in different bands together. So it’s great being able to play music and travel with your long time buds. Aside from that aspect, we’re generally unsettled with how repetitive, boring and predictable rock music can be. One of the best things about being in a band is considering the bleakness out there and then finding ways to make a song more creative, interesting and against the grain. I’m not sure how well we do that, but it’s something we enjoy trying to do.

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

The music biz is tough right now and that is a constant frustration we and other bands have to work around. Music has always been tough, but I think it’s okay to say there is a lot less money now than in the early 2000’s pre-Napster. There is a bad gap between good music and getting it to people who will appreciate it. I hope streaming can get its shit together, and this is a problem they need to solve. I know that journalism and film are in the same boat.

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

Mostly weed and more legal substances these days to keep our voices in tact and be able to keep up with the fast pace lifestyle we live. It’s been most interesting buying weed across the U.S. in the last two years. It’s funny buying it in Colorado and then sneaking it through Utah like you’re still at your parents house and sneaking in past curfew.

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

Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and any town with a passionate promoter who knows how to put together a cool show. The funny thing about live music is that any town can be killer for shows. You just need one guy or gal who loves putting on shows and knows what bands are good.

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

Pittsburgh. We showed up to a DIY space that was had the right elements for a good show – big empty house with a good turnout and decent bands booked. But the place was run by kids in pajamas eating ramen. There was a thunderstorm that day and they were afraid of the thunder thinking the show should be canceled. We bought them a six pack and passed on the show.

8. How do you pay your bills?

We work part time or remote jobs in addition to making music. Andrew (guitar/vocals) is a door guy, Graham (bass) makes pizza, Danny (drums is a waiter, Sabrina (singer) works at a Ramen place and has an Airbnb and Andy (guitar) is a software consultant. Multiple incomes is the main way we get by and it’s well worth the time and effort to be able to tour and keep making records.

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

Sabrina was talking about becoming an acupuncturist the other day. Eastern medicine in general is interesting and it seems that could be a rewarding job.

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

Nothing yet. Friends have said the Milk Run is cool and a good place to play. Let’s see what stories come from the show tonight.

A Giant Dog performs with Kitten Forever, No Thanks and Worried Mothers tonight at Milk Run, 1907 Leavenworth St. Tickets are $8, show starts at 9 p.m. 

* * *

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.

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Live Review: The Thermals at Slowdown Jr.; the reluctant expatriates (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:50 pm May 9, 2016
The Thermals at Slowdown Jr., May 6, 2016.

The Thermals at Slowdown Jr., May 6, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

So why aren’t The Thermals more popular? They’ve been putting out solid, albeit by-the-numbers indie rock albums for 13 years on established labels Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars and now our very own Saddle Creek, touring incessantly the entire time. Their meat-and potatoes anthems sport a sly, cynical message and are catchy and fun.

And yet here they were Friday night playing to a less-than-capacity crowd in Slowdown Jr. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand the music business. How do bands get to that next level? At they very least they play like these guys. Performing as a four-piece, The Thermals ran through their set list very matter-of-factly, rolling out one song after the next, giving frontman Hutch Harris just enough time to make the crowd laugh with his snappy between-song patter. Clever, funny, his comments are the embodiment of Portlandia (actually funnier).

The band rolled out a number of songs off their latest album, We Disappear (2016, Saddle Creek) that fit right in with everything else. If there’s a nit to pick it’s that their music lacks variety in pace, tone, dynamics, but maybe that’s just the nature of this style of indie rock. Or maybe that’s what’s holding them back.

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The new issue of The Reader is out, which includes this month’s installment of Over the Edge. The topic: Where are you moving to once Trump wins the election? Find it on newsstands around town or read it online right here. Also in this issue, my recent blog entry concerning this year’s Maha Music Festival (which you can read right here).

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Diet Cig, The Front Bottoms; Ten Questions with Cross Record; Day Wave tonight…

Diet Cig at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

Diet Cig at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Slowdown, god bless ’em, runs a show on time. Last night was no exception. I’d raced downtown to catch Diet Cig, who was scheduled to begin their set at 7:30 p.m. — an early start time for any show. A quick dinner and I was tooling down Cuming Street. I arrived at 7:30 to be met by a line that snaked along the sidewalk past the Saddle Creek Store toward Film Streams. As I waited in line I heard Diet Cig playing inside Slowdown. Nobody’s fault but mine.

It took a good 10 to 15 minutes to get inside, but once there, I got to hear at least half of Diet Cig’s set. They’re a new band with a very small selection of songs — they haven’t even released a debut full length as far as I can tell. Only singles and EPs.

Not only are they a new band, they’re a young band, or more precisely, a young duo consisting of frontwoman/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman. Their brand of indie is post punk bordering on garage rock, big riffs, big drums and a little voice. The product is cute… no it’s adorable, especially as Luciano in Daisy Dukes does her half-ass chorus-line-style step kicks while bouncing around stage.

What the songs lacked in clarity (I couldn’t understand a word she sang, and blame it partially on the sound mix, which was muddy all night) the duo made up for with brazen energy, managing to get the early-evening crowd to pump their fists. I’m ready to see how they top it when they play the Maha Music Festival this August.

They were followed by Brick + Mortar, a three-piece indie band that wasn’t really a band at all. It was a frontman singing over prerecorded tracks and live drums while a gimp in tight green satin shorts pranced around stage in nipple tassels spraying water into the audience. Meanwhile a gruesome blood-spray video was projected on the big screen behind them.

While their music was not my cup of tea, I salute them for their indie ethic — the band says they’ve done everything on their own, including releasing all their music on their own label (though AllMusic lists their 2013 Bangs EP as having been released by Universal Music). The crowd loved them.

The Front Bottoms at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

The Front Bottoms at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

Finally at around 9:25 (10 minutes late!) The Front Bottoms took the stage to the screams of their adoring fans who packed the bowl (though this was not a sell out — the balcony was even closed).

I won’t repeat how I described them the last time I saw them because their sound hasn’t changed a lick. Actually, nothing about the band was different than when they played at The Waiting Room three years ago. They even had the same spray-painted backdrop. Why would they change anything? Their fans don’t want them to change. They don’t need elaborate staging, just the band playing the songs they love.

And play they did, with the crowd singing along to every word. I haven’t seen this sort of sing-along since Dashboard Confessional. The quality that Dashboard and Front Bottoms share (other than being unabashedly emo) is a front man who writes songs that any sad sack can relate to, who then sings them with the clearest enunciation. You only have to hear a Front Bottoms song once and you’ll know all the words the next time ’round.

To be fair, about halfway through the set, the band did break out some lighting effects that looked like icicle Christmas lights. And there was a bubble machine and the those floppy “windsock dancers” that are so popular with used car lots.

To me, their set was less enthralling and sloppier than when I saw them last. They rolled out my favorite of their songs, “Au Revoir (Adios)” fairly early in the set and rushed it as if they just wanted to get it out of the way. Still, the crowd was enraptured by the performance, bouncing and singing and waving along to every note.

So far, every time they’ve come to town they’ve played bigger stages, despite having virtually no local airplay. A glance at their wiki entry implies their popularity has been fueled mostly by YouTube videos, which I guess makes them “YouTube phenoms.” You have to assume they’re just going to get bigger, if they don’t burn out first from constant touring along the way. Here’s hoping they sell out Slowdown next time through.

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Cross Record plays at fabulous O'Leaver's Thursday, May 5.

Cross Record plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s Thursday, May 5.

Ten Questions with Cross Record

Cross Record is vocalist Emily Cross and her husband, Dan Duszynski. The couple live a seemingly idyllic life in dusty Dripping Springs, Texas. Reading their bio, you’d believe Cross and Dyszynski fled to the tiny town of 1,788 to escape the hustle-bustle of their former home in Chicago, having “grown fed up with the violence and lack of warmth.” Good story, until you realize the Dripping Springs is located just 24 miles west of Austin, and includes among its residents (according to Wikipedia) Sam Bean of Iron & Wine, Johnny Gimble of the Texas Playboys and Kurt Neumann of BoDeans, and so on.

The contrast is important. Because despite being a half-hour away from one of the largest music cities on the planet, Dripping Springs is also known as the Gateway to the Hill Country. It is, indeed, isolated, especially if you live on an 18-acre rented ranch, which they do. That remoteness permeates Cross Record’s new album, Wabi-Sabi (2016, Ba Da Bing), a wispy collection of big-horizon music often broken mid-song by lightning-crash distortion and/or percussion, as if saying no matter how you try to escape, the din of life will keep on finding you.

We asked Cross Record to take our Ten Questions survey. Emily answered most of them, with help from Dan. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?



Emily Cross: It changes, depending on my mood. Right now it’s ANTI by Rihanna.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Dan Dyszynski: “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.. “It’s the whitest, most generic, singer-songwriter-reggae-ripoff-piece-of-shit in the world”

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

Sharing, communicating, connecting, smiling, making friends.

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

Nothing, really.

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

It’d have to be water. I’m made out of mostly water.

6. What city or town do you love to perform?

Glasgow.

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

Honestly, I don’t like to think about or dwell on my “worst gigs.” Even the worst of shows provide me with some sort of valuable experience. I often feel pretty terrible about my performances, so no single one really stands out in my mind.

8. How do you pay your bills?

I’m a nanny, and I’ve had about a million little odd-jobs.

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

Full-time animal activist or animal sanctuary owner. Certified Public Accountant.

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

I haven’t heard any stories about Omaha, Nebraska. I’ll have some, soon.

Cross Record plays with Simon Joyner & the Ghosts and Those Far Out Arrows Thursday, May 5, at O’Leaver’s, 1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $6. For more information, go to liveatoleavers.com

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Bonus! Late yesterday afternoon Diet Cig finally supplied the answers to the Ten Questions survey, which went online at The Reader website a few hours prior to last night’s show. Here it is:

1. What is your favorite album?

Diet Cig: Space Jam Soundtrack

2. What is your least favorite song?

Anything by the Talking Heads

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

Getting to tour and meet other people’s pets.

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

Nothing comes to mind… it pretty much all rawwwks.

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

Pixie Sticks (Ed note: Pixy Stix)

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

Philadelphia!

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

First time in Denver, CO, our car had gotten broken into and we were so bummed out all day, we just wanted the show to be over.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Cash $$$$

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

Dog walker!!! I’d hate to work at a deli ever again… I still get nightmares about processed meats.

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

Conor Oberst walks around with a super soaker full of Nair on Halloween and terrorizes local kids.

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Tonight it’s back to Slowdown Jr. for Day Wave, who you met yesterday. Also on the bill are Lot Walks and Bokr Tov. 8 p.m. showtime, $12.

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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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Closeness, Thick Paint, BAMF, Relax It’s Science; 10 Questions with The Besnard Lakes…

Closeness at O'Leaver's April 30, 2016.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Closeness is a new project by Orenda and Todd Fink. We all know who they are, and if you don’t, how’s life been in that cave the past 20 years? A better question: Why have they waited so long before collaborating on music? Maybe they’ve always been collaborating and we just didn’t know it. Regardless, now we get to hear the product of these two musical masterminds, and it’s been worth the wait.

Their kit is an assembly of synths, keyboards and other sound robots placed on tables surrounded by lights, cables and other gizmos. Their equipment looked like an operating theater where the couple was about to perform surgery, but with Orenda donning an electric guitar over her scrubs.

They performed face-to-face, though from my vantage point, Todd mainly looked down or over or into his microphone. Orenda, her microphone echoing with delay, provided most of the vocals, with Todd adding his distorted, vocoder-like harmonies deep or high or robotic. Musically, Closeness goes way beyond what you’d expect. Sure, there were the familiar hypnotic beats, of which Todd always has been a master, but it was the melodies and the counter melodies and the layers upon layers of textured sound that set it apart.

Most songs were thick, mid-tempo grooves reminiscent of Orenda’s O+S material, but there were moments of lilting Caribbean-style tempos and traditional electro-rock you’d expect from The Faint. Their short set was only five songs long. Among my faves was a mid-set corker that featured the couple harmonizing on a slow melody that recalled Low’s Sparhawk and Parker.

No surprise that the crazy-packed crowd loved it and wanted more, but there wasn’t any. So has any of this music been recorded, and who will have the honor of releasing it? Or maybe they’ll release it themselves and then hit the road. Ah, what a life.

Thick Paint at O'Leaver's, April 30, 2016.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, April 30, 2016.

Garnering just as much enthusiasm from the crush mob was Thick Paint, the one-man show featuring Reptar’s Graham Patrick Ulicny. With just a small synth, his voice and his guitar he enraptured the audience with his beautiful songs that, at times, reminded me of early Cat Stevens played to a beat box. Really gorgeous stuff.

I realize I’m going backward through my Saturday night, which actually ended at O’Leaver’s. It began at The Lookout Lounge and the Big Al Music Festival (BAMF) First, a word about The Lookout. No other club in town has managed to capture the glorious, run-down ambiance of ’90s-era Omaha rock venues quite like this place. It was like walking into the past, right down to the smell.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Like the old Knickerbockers or Capitol Bar, the venue is split in two, with a bar in one room and a decent sized music room adjacent with an impressive elevated stage. Imagine the old Sokol Underground shrunk down to half its size and you get the gist. The walls and ceiling tiles were painted black, and air vents over the stage were appropriately covered in fuzzy grime, no doubt a reminder of decades of cigarette smoke, now long gone. Lookout isn’t fancy, but the best rock clubs rarely are.

Big Al, who has been doing his free festival for nine years. kept things on schedule. I walked in at 8:45 and Wagon Blasters were just getting started — right on time. Gary Dean Davis and  crew looked right at home bouncing on the Lookout stage, belting out their usual high-quality tractor punk. Someone in the crowd of around 30 yelled out “Fishin’ Hole”! Hey, you can’t blame anyone for mistaking these folks for that classic ’90s punk band.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar took the stage next playing solo electric renditions of songs from his former band, Ravine. Ravine (who you can read about here) was Saklar’s post-Ritual Device band that played very heavy-bordering-on-metal rock music way back in the ’90s. Deconstructed as solo material, the songs sounded more tuneful than I remember them, though Saklar is no less a master on guitar. What are the odds that he could resurrect a few of these songs with a full band?

Relax, It's Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Relax, It’s Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Then came Relax, It’s Science, the latest project from drummer Jeremy Stanosheck (ex-Kite Pilot, among others). The trio consisted of Stanosheck and two bass players cranking out huge, anthemic, proggy instrumentals with intricate, powerful rhythms. Each bass took turns providing a semblance of a melody countered by the other’s pounding rhythm lines. It was appropriate that the only spot highlighted on Lookout’s stage was where Stanosheck had his drum kit, because he was center of the attention putting on a clinic with his throaty stick work. It’s time Stanosheck got the respect he deserves.

Hat’s off to Big Al for such a strong line-up. This was the first time I’ve attended one of his festivals, and I was impressed by how it was run. On a table in the back of the room was a large pile of canned and packaged foods destined for the food bank. As Gary Dean Davis said at the end of this set, “Keep feeding the world, Big Al.” Here’s to Year 10.

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Tonight Canada’s Besnard Lakes returns to Omaha, this time at Reverb Lounge. You really should go to this one. Look, it’s a 9 p.m. show but with only one opener (Sub Pop and Burger Records band Jaill, which could be a headliner by themselves).

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Ten Questions with The Besnark Lakes.

The Besnard Lakes’ music is so massive, so mammoth, it’s the sound you hear while teetering on the edge of a cliff with the gorge spread out in front of you, the river below a mere silver sliver among the rocks.  The Montreal-based six-piece is centered on the husband-wife core of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, who released their first studio album, Volume 1, in 2003 (but which was rereleased by their label, Jagjagwar, in 2007).

While the band is undoubtedly indie — Lasek’s and Goreas’ harmonies are reminiscent of Low — their gorgeously dense music has touch points in ’70s arena rock recalling bands like Yes and Boston, acts that knew how to make their anthems sound majestic. And most of Besnard Lakes’ new album, A Coliseum Complex Museum (2016, Jagjaguwar) is, indeed, majestic — a swirling miasma of beautiful multi-tracked sounds cut to the core by Robbie MacArthur’s sparkling guitar solos. It’s a sound so large one can only wonder how it’ll fit inside tiny Reverb Lounge Monday night.

We asked The Besnard Lakes to take our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what Olga had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

The Besnard Lakes’ Olga Goreas: Side two of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Anything that doesn’t come from a sincere heart.

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

Playing bass. I love that thing so much!

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

I really can’t complain about any aspect of being in a band. It’s pretty much the best job in the world. I don’t know, long rides in the van can get tedious I suppose.  I’ve got restless legs too, but I don’t think I can blame it on being in a band! Just gotta get up and stretch once in a while.

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

I do enjoy a well-made double espresso.  Caffeine is the one drug I could never give up.

6. What city or town do you love performing at?

Chicago has been a special city for us.  The audience is always super appreciative, and the city too is quite lovely.  The old architecture melds with the new really well.  I almost get a Canadian vibe from it too, more than any other American city except maybe Minneapolis. Also love playing Glasgow, London and just the UK in general.  Audiences seem to understand us best in the UK.

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

That honor belongs to Victoria, BC.  It had actually started quite well – we took a ferry from Tsawassen to Victoria and two of our bandmates at the time ran into the drummer from Def Leppard, who happened to be playing the same night in the big arena.  We actually went to see them and then went to play our show.  I don’t know if it was something weird in the air but it was a very strange crowd and we tried to be loud enough to be heard over the rowdies.  Jace was trying to sing a song and just got fed up and told someone in the audience who was basically yelling the whole time to shut the fuck up.  This person replies “get over yourself” to which another person in the audience gets into some altercation and the night basically ended with bar fights and the cops being called. The end!

8. How do you pay your bills?

Online baby!

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

I went to university and studied Psychology.  I’d like to be a researcher or a clinical psychologist.  The mind is a fascinating creature to me.

I wouldn’t be able to work at a collection agency or anything that involves taking money from people who don’t have it.

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

We played once in Omaha many years ago. There was a college football game and nobody came to our show.  It’s totally fine, that sort of thing happens here for hockey so I get it. I also remember going to a laundromat and seeing bullet holes in the window. I started calling Omaha “Omaharsh” after that.

The Besnard Lakes plays with Jaill Monday, May 2, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $12. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i