Live Review: Digital Leather, Son, Ambulance; Nap Eyes review; The Bronx tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:50 pm April 9, 2018

Digital Leather at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

For Friday night’s show at The Sydney, Digital Leather was configured as a trio with Shawn Foree in front playing synth and bass, Greg Elsasser on synths and long-time DL drummer Jeff Lambelet. If the plan was to get the crowd dancing, it was a winning combination, maybe the most danceable version of DL I’ve seen live.

Lambelet, one my favorite drummers, is a massive upgrade to the synth beats heard on Headache Heaven, DL’s latest, which sounds like a collection of bedroom-recorded demoes. With Lambelet, and Foree adding bass, along with Elsasser, the songs were fully-realized New Wave-esque dance tracks. Their set was helped along with a dense layer of smoke-machine haze cut through by lazer lights — I haven’t seen this much smoke and lazers since that last Talking Mountain concert.

It’s also worth noting that Friday night’s crowd was one of the largest I’ve seen at The Sydney for a rock show. The audience built up throughout the evening, starting with a gorgeous set by Son, Ambulance.

Son, Ambulance at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

I’ve always thought Joe Knapp had an interesting voice, a sort of indie version of Elvis Costello, but as he gets older his voice only gets better and more in control. Good thing, too, because he’s fronting one of the best line-ups I’ve heard from Son, Ambulance over the years, including a sweet three-piece horn section and a rock-solid rhythm section swinging on a set of new material that’s begging to be recorded.

Her Flyaway Manner at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner owned the center slot Friday night. The trio headed by vocalist/guitarist Brendan McGinn crushed a set of angular post-punk rock that reminded me of Fugazi and an earlier age of Nebraska punk rock. All said, a terrific night of music brought together by between-set sets from DJ Tyrone Storm that had me tapping my Shazam app.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in The Sydney, and was surprised to discover they’ve taken out all the back booths, effectively clearing out that music room giving it more space for rock shows and dance nights. Even the high-top tables were gone on Friday…

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

Nap Eyes, I’m Bad Now (2018, Jagjaguwar)

Nap Eyes, I’m Bad Now (Jagjaguwar) — This warm, melodic indie rock comes from an act out of Nova Scotia who played in Omaha last year opening for Fleet Foxes (a show I missed). They remind me of The Feelies, especially because lead vocalist Nigel Chapman’s drab, nasal delivery matches Feelies’ Glenn Mercer, though Nap Eyes lacks Feelies’ driving, relentless rhythms that rise and rise and explode. This just sort of lays there from song to song.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s The Bronx. The band is out supporting their new one, V, out last year on ATO. The record was produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, FIDLAR, Elliott Smith) and has a very pro sheen to it. Still rocks hard. No Parents and No Thanks open. 8 p.m. $17.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Marie/Lepanto living room show tomorrow; Lincoln Calling 2018; Album Review: Car Seat Headrest; The Show Is the Rainbow tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm April 5, 2018

Marie/Lepanto (yes that’s Will Johnson on the right) is playing a house show tomorrow night…

by Tim McMahan,

I just found out today about this living room show with Marie/Lepanto tomorrow night, and I mention it here because it probably has had zero promotion.

Whereas I like the idea of these traveling troubadours doing living room shows across the country (I think Eric Bachmann might have one coming up?) they’re not booked through a promoter or a club so it’s hard to find out about them. I’d hate for this duo — Will Johnson (of Centro-Matic fame) and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster — to play to an empty room, so here’s the link to the show info. I have no idea who’s hosting, but it’s probably someone cool.

It’s gonna be tough sledding because it’s already is a pretty crowded weekend for shows.

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I mentioned the Maha Festival yesterday, I feel I should mention Lincoln Calling 2018 today. The 15th annual concert series is slated for Sept. 17-22, and this year is being presented by Allo and Evol Empire Creative. Last year it was a Hear Nebraska joint, but that org has stepped away.

The big question: Who is booking the festival this year? Last year’s stellar line-up was the result of hard work from Sam Parker, who as reported last week, don’t live here no more.

Anyway, the initial LC line-up will be announced April 16, with a second line-up announcement July 16.

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

Car Seat Headrest, Twin Fantasy (2018, Matador)

Car Seat Headrest, Twin Fantasy (Matador) — The first time I listened to their last album, Teens of Denial, I had the lyrics sheet resting on my lap and followed along word-for-word. It made for a satisfying hour of headphone bliss, like reading a series of depressing short stories written by a precocious, bashful teen outsider who doesn’t have enough to complain about. I don’t have the lyrics sheet for Twin Fantasy, which actually is a re-recording of an earlier CSH album. As a result, it’s hard to stay focused for the hour-plus collection of dense lyrics and power chords. Will Toledo could be this generation’s Elvis Costello, but a much more unsatisfied one.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge The Show Is the Rainbow headlines. Cult Play and John Friedel open. $8, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Lucy Dacus, Adult Mom, And the Kids…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:00 pm April 3, 2018

Lucy Dacus at Reverb Lounge, April 2, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve been trying to see Adult Mom, the indie music project of Stephanie Knipe, since I reviewed the Sometimes Bad Happens cassette four years ago. Seems like the band cancelled once and/or I didn’t make it to another. They were worth the wait. Fine singer/songwriter stuff that would have been better if the sound were tweaked enough to hear the lyrics.

I could hear Knipe fine when singing alone or with the bassist, but when the full band came in, Knipe was somewhat submerged. Adjustments were made and it got better in the end. Knipe’s an example of someone who will do well on a solo acoustic tour, but that’s not a downgrade on the band, which was tight and good throughout.

Adult Mom at Reverb Lounge, April 2, 2018.

I almost skipped the second band, And the Kids, resenting they were on the bill (I still swear the original line-up had only two bands), but am happy I didn’t. Call them an indie power trio with vocalist Hannah Mohan reminding me a bit of Angel Olsen. She wowed the audience with her guitar work including some fancy behind-the-back strumming and an Indian wrestling match flat on her back with her bass player. I will be doing further investigation via Spotify over the coming days.

Finally it was Lucy Dacus’ turn. They had a sound problem with the lead guitarist’s pedals that forced her to do a solo acoustic number, which actually was a great way to start the set anyway.

Despite the fact she’s on my favorite record label (sorry Robb) I’m not too familiar with her music and that likely hurt the set for me. The strength is more in the lyrics than the melodies (which were somewhat par for the course for indie singer/songwriter stuff), while the turn of the phrases I did catch were stunners.

If the show wasn’t sold out it had to be darn near as Reverb was elbow-to-elbow packed with a crowd mesmerized by Dacus and her band. And as one person put it, the crowd’s age was “refreshingly older,” I’m told thanks to her NPR status.

I only caught about half the set as I turn into a pumpkin at 10:30 on work nights, but I think I got the gist of it (if you know what I mean).

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Thick Paint, Mothers; Lucy Dacus, Adult Mom tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm April 2, 2018

Thick Paint at Slowdown Jr., March 30, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

I don’t remember Thick Paint’s  duo drummers in the past incarnation (at O’Leaver’s) or maybe I didn’t notice. I noticed Friday night at Slowdown Jr.

We could argue the pro’s and con’s of two drummers over a beer. My take is: Does the second drummer add anything to the sound that a single drummer couldn’t provide by just playing louder? The answer in this case is yes, most of the time. It certainly isn’t a gimmick, and they’re always fun to watch. Isn’t that the main appeal of two drummers?

I’d tell you those drummers’ names but Thick Paint doesn’t list personnel on its Facebook page except for frontman Graham Patrick Ulicny (and everyone knows bass player Sarah Bohling from Icky Blossoms). In addition to having a similar beard configuration as Jim James, Ulicny shares James’ voice. Actually, I tapped into my iPhone notes “Geddy Lee,” that’s how eccentrically high Ulicny’s voice is, and that’s not the only thing the band shares with Rush. There were times during the set that I could drop this band into the prog-rock bin thanks the chord choices and guitar lines, which actually reminded me more of Fripp-y ’80s-era King Crimson.

They’re at their best when they look past the intricacies of their guitar lines, lean back on those duo-drummers (and bass) and just swing, as they did on the last couple songs of their set.

Mothers at Slowdown Jr., March 20, 2018.

Headliner Mothers was a departure from the usual female-led indie band in their embracing of dark, arch melodies. Three songs into their set Friday night they played their poppiest number “It Hurts Until it Doesn’t,” off their last record. The rest of the night was dedicated to  mostly slower, ominous and powerful compositions that would make for great headphones listening (moreso than catching it live).

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When I bought tickets to tonight’s Lucy Dacus show at Reverb I could swear that the booking only listed two bands — Dacus and Adult Mom (who I’m actually more interested in seeing). In fact there’s three bands on tonight’s bill, with And the Kids. So even though this starts at 8 p.m. it could go past 11, which will force me to cut the Dacus set short (Some of us have to work in the morning).

Dacus’ latest album, Historian, was released this year on the mighty Matador label and received a rollicking 8.1 rating from Pitchfork. Adult Mom’s 2017 release Soft Spots (Tiny Engines) made Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield’s list of the best albums of that year.

Note that someone from 1% posted a “low ticket warning” on this show over the weekend, so if you’re interested, better get on it…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


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,

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)?


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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Bad Bad Men, Lupines, Those Far Out Arrows at The Brothers; Blank Range tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:36 pm February 19, 2018

Bad Bad Men at The Brothers Lounge, Feb. 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

No matter what happens to the Blackstone District — no matter what new restaurant or bar or business opens its doors, no matter how gentrified it becomes — there will always be The Brothers Lounge.

The Brothers has always been — is — and will always be an Omaha punk Mecca that remembers its past and welcomes its future with open arms. The Brothers is where you’ll find the best jukebox, the nicest staff and the coldest beer (though they quit selling Rolling Rock because, I was told, the last “regular” who ordered it died of a heart attack. I guess Trey either forgot that I drink Rolling Rock or I need to become a regular).

I can’t imagine Omaha without The Brothers, and hopefully I’ll never have to. I write this because in an effort to keep up with all the new-fangled businesses (including yet another new bar that opened practically right under them) The Brothers has been beefing up its live music bookings lately. This past weekend featured back-to-back showcases Friday and Saturday night.

I made it to Saturday night’s three-band bill, figuring I’d miss the opening act (hey, Black Panther is a long friggin’ movie), but there was John Wolf and and Co. belting out the magic at 10:30 p.m. The band is Bad Bad Men, featuring legendary punker Wolf fronting a power trio rounded out by drummer Chris Siebken and bass player Jerry Hug. Saturday night’s show was their debut, but you’d never guess judging by how tightly they played.

Bad Bad Men is a natural continuation of the style of music Wolf has been playing for more than 20 years, reaching back to acts like Cellophane Ceiling and Bad Luck Charm. The only difference is in the economy of arrangements (BBM is a mean, lean fighting machine) and Wolf’s growl, which has grown into a brash, guttural bray that cuts through the band’s back-beat swing.

At times BBM felt like high-energy boogie blues punk, somewhat rootsier than Bad Luck Charm’s ’90s-influenced Ameri-alt-rock sound (can you believe Viva La Sinners came out 17 years ago?). The music chugged along like a high-ballin’ locomotive powered by the Siebken/Hug rhythm section and Wolf’s blazing riffs. The band closed out its set with a brutal cover of Warsaw’s “No Love Lost” (compliments to Dr. Sheehan for pointing this out) that was the perfect capper to a perfect debut. More to come.

The Lupines at The Brothers Lounge Feb. 19, 2018.

Next up was The Lupines, who played a solid set that included a few songs off their most recent collection, Mountain of Love (2017, Speed Nebraska). They closed with a long burner that I wouldn’t have minded had it gone on for 20 minutes. It was good to once again see guitarist Mike Friedman ripping alongside frontman John Ziegler and hearing his crazy leads laced throughout the songs.

Those Far Out Arrows at The Brothers Feb. 17, 2018.

Finally, Those Far Out Arrows hit the stage well past midnight. The band had played The Replay Lounge in Lawrence just the night before, and could be the next break-out act to grab national attention thanks to their take on garage psych-rock. If you haven’t seen these guys lately, do yourself a favor. They have a West Coast/San Francisco style reminiscent of ’90s-’00s acts like Brian Jonestown Massacre, BRMC and The Warlocks. but with a nod to bands that go back even further and farther (Them, Small Faces, etc.).

Unfortunately their set got cut short when first the bass drum pedal broke and then the bass drum head broke. These things happen. You’ll get a chance to catch them again when they open for White Mystery March 4 at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

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Tonight Nashville band Blank Range headlines at Reverb Lounge. Rolling Stone named them one of the “10 New Country Bands You Need to Know” though I’d classify their sound as leaning more toward alt-country/Americana than straight up C&W. Think Jason Isbell or Sturgill Simpson but with less twang. Frankly, they remind me more of The Band than anyone else, and are keeping their options open by opening shows for everyone from Spoon to Drive-By Truckers to Black Joe Lewis. Evan Bartles opens tonight at 8 p.m. $10.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Destroyer, Mega Bog at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:38 pm February 5, 2018

Destroyer at The Waiting Room, Feb. 3, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Trumpeter JP Carter stole the show at Saturday night’s Destroyer concert at The Waiting Room. Oh sure, Dan Bejar was in great voice doing his usual vampy singing, but it was Carter and his glowing midnight trumpet that powered the arrangements and left people swooning.

Bejar spent the night looking dour, leaning on his mic stand at half mast or kneeling while his marvelous six-piece band (two guitars, keys, bass, drums and that trumpet) crushed each song as tight as any band you’ll ever see on the Waiting Room’s stage (or anywhere).

Bejar was spot on vocally, but looked tired and 10 years older than me rather than seven years younger, which he is. No one says a performer has to look happy up there, most of the ultra-serious ones rarely do, but Bejar looked half-awake or stoned, occasionally grabbing a tambourine and tapping along with his back to the half-full crowd (150?).

The set list included a lot of songs off their latest as well as Kaputt and ended with a two-song encore capped with a strong version of “Dream Lover” from Poison Years.

Two days after the show, it’s Carter’s dreamy trumpet that still echoes in my mind, pouring out like sonic lacquer, making every song shimmer. I’d pay just to hear that band led by Carter.

Mega Bog at The Waiting Room, Feb. 3, 2018.

Mega Bog already had started when I arrived a little after 9. Sweet Erin Birgy and a trio of musicians swayed to a jazzy set of pop songs that reminded me of latter-day Joni Mitchell. Birgy’s voice was quiet and quick and matter-of-fact, as if carrying on a private conversation with an invisible friend over coffee.

Unlike Bejar, she looked like she was having a good time, telling the crowd to listen closely to Bejar’s song lyrics, and hers as well, though I struggled to make out what she was singing with her low-key, lovely and quiet voice.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Criteria, Little Brazil rock The Waiting Room at holiday showcase…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:48 pm January 3, 2018

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

You’d think sub-zero weather would have shooed fans away from going to The Waiting Room last Saturday night. No sir. A rather large and festive crowd showed up to see a line-up of acts that first made their mark in the mid 2000s perform with the same vigor they showed in their hey-day, and maybe give us hope in this modern age we live in.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room Dec. 30, 2017.

Little Brazil boasted yet another new line-up. The core duo of Landon Hedges and Danny Maxwell remain intact, but now Shawn Cox, who you may remember from Landing on the Moon or Microphone Jones, is handling lead guitars while See Through Dresses’ Nate Van Fleet was behind the drum kit. The result was a different sound for LB, most notably coming from Cox, whose more controlled style is a contrast to former guitarist Mike Friedman’s edgy, frenetic sound. Cox’s solos had a melodic and (dare I say it) Clapton-esque feel (And this isn’t a jab at Friedman, who I think is one of the best guitarists to ever come out of Omaha).

LB played old favorites including “Brighton Beach” and “You and Me,” but really uncorked it on a number of new songs, including one they’d never played live before, which was my favorite of the evening. Or maybe I’m just excited to hear new stuff from LB. The band is about to put out a new album (recorded years ago) on new label Max Trax Records. Hedges says he also has a gaggle of even newer songs queued up and ready for a return to the studio. Call it a second coming for Little Brazil, and who knows what will happen if they get their show on the road…

Criteria remains ageless. Frontman/heart-throb/teen idol Stephen Pedersen — in trademark striped T-shirt — has lost none of the panache. I kept waiting for him to step into a pothole on those high notes, but he hit them all night. While the rest of the crew — drummer Mike Sweeney, bassist A.J. Mogis and guitarist Aaron Druery — played as if they just finished a month-long tour instead of performing one of their semi-annual shows.

Criteria transitioned into a weekend warrior act back in 2008 or so but never lost its edge, and continues to write and perform new material, though a rumored new record never seems to materialize. That kind of thing costs money, and if you’re not going to hit the road, does it make sense to release new stuff? I say “why not?” though I’m not the one footing the bill.

That said, while Saddle Creek might be too busy with shiny pennies like Big Thief and Hop Along, labels like 15 Passenger (Cursive’s new label) or the aforementioned Max Trax could be interesting homes for new Criteria material.

Regardless of what happens, this holiday concert, which also featured opener Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, has become an Omaha tradition that never gets old, right along with these bands…

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Lazy-i Best of 2017

Here’s another thing that never gets old: the Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD.

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes from last year, including songs from SUSTO, David Nance, Alvvays, Luna, The Lupines, LCD Soundsystem, Digital Leather, Beck, CLOSENESS, King Krule, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Want one? Enter to my drawing to win a copy of this limited-edition, hand-crafted CD. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 5.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Minneapolis Uranium Club, Sucettes, Dilute at Pet Shop Gallery…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm December 11, 2017

Minneapolis Uranium Club at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

Minnesota Uranium Club is what would happen if a mad computer scientist digitally combined Devo, The Dismemberment Plan and Wall of Voodoo into one diabolic sound file — quirky, jittery, precise (and fast) post-punk guitar rock combined with smart, ironic observations about our devolving society and the world around us.

And they freakin’ rock. A two-guitar four-piece, they’ve got their sound honed to a razor’s edge. If you were at Pet Shop Saturday night you marveled at the layered guitar lines, or maybe you got caught up in the friendly mosh pit in front of the band (I was safely off to the side with the other oldsters).

The guitarist right in front of me (no idea what these guys’ names are, they have no web presence other than a Bandcamp page) robotically jerked into position throughout songs in a classic Devo fashion, adding his own chicken-neck groove-move when the time was right. Yeah, there’s a Devo flair, but these guys are not over-the-top theatricians, this is no novelty act. It’s a tight, intricate punk band with a bagful of catchy tunes that will make your heart pulse well above a safe threshold.

I have Brad Smith at Almost Music to thank for even knowing about Uranium Club, as he sold me their latest EP on a cold recommendation. Brad’s got a good batting average. Last year he handed me a Tenement album that became one of my favorites of 2016.

Dilute at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

I got to Pet Shop (which, btw, is the old Sweatshop performance space — the garage you enter from the back of the building) a little after 10 figuring I’d missed the opener (show was scheduled for 9) but was just in time to see Dilute’s entire set. I’m happy I caught it.

Dilute is a four-piece fronted by Alex Heller (according to their Bandcamp page) that plays brutal post-punk bordering on hardcore. Thick slabs of guitar, lots of vocal delay, random acts of chaos. Gorgeous sheets of noise and pounding rhythms got the kids smashing into each other.

Check out the tracks below and get the cassette at Almost Music.

Sucettes at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

Tucked in the middle was Sucettes boasting a different line-up than the last time I saw them. Todd and Jen are gone and new vocalist Michaela Favara has been added. The result is a more stripped down, more straight-forward approach to their classic ’60’s style psych pop that’s as playful as it is rocking (anytime you can get a couple guys doing harmonies on pennywhistles, well, you’re in for something special).

It was a packed crowd throughout the night and Pet Shop lived up to the old Sweatshop namesake — it was sweaty. I had a feeling it was going to be a crush mob (Uranium Club shows are a rarity) but it was never uncomfortable. The sound was surprisingly great and the vibe was chill. I love this venue for DIY shows. You never feel out of place. Here’s hoping Pet Shop shows become a regular thing.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Son, Ambulance, Lodgings, Dirt House at O’Leavers…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 4, 2017

Son, Ambulance at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 2, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

Oh. My. God. I finally made it to a show.

Saturday night’s show at O’Leaver’s is the first rock show I’ve gone to since Zola Jesus way back on Oct. 11 — easily the longest stretch I’ve had between shows since sometime in the ’90s probably.

I actually intended to go to two shows this past weekend. I walked down to The Waiting Room Friday night to see Whitney/NE-HI after our art show ended at The Little Gallery (and after checking out the new B-Side, which is very nice indeed) only to find that it was sold out. I was disappointed yet happy for the the sell out — people really do still love going to indie rock shows.

Saturday night was the return of Son, Ambulance to O’Leaver’s. The band seems to re-emerge on a stage somewhere every six months or so with a slightly different line-up. Backing frontman singer/songwriter Joe Knapp this time were a couple horns, pedal steel, drums, Dereck Higgins on bass and instead of a second guitar someone playing sitar.

I was stationed at my usual spot, peeking through the glassless window panes by the bathrooms, which placed me right next to the aforementioned sitar. It sounded not so much like the traditional instrument we all know from Ravi Shankar, but more like a plucked-out high-end bass line. At times, distracting, but didn’t cover up the rest of the band, which was, for the most part, pretty solid.

Son, Ambulance played three old ones (including set staple “Paper Snowflakes”) and three new ones, the best of which was set-closer “Fuck Trump,” a rocker that wasn’t so much a call-and-response anthem as much as a song about living in the here and now, punctuated by the title lyrics.

Knapp says expect to hear a lot more from Son, Ambulance in 2018. With such a huge back catalog of songs, they’re among the few local bands I’d go see once a month.

Lodgings at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 2, 2017.

Lodgings is an act I’ve somehow managed to miss over the years, which turns out to be a huge bummer because they play a style of music I love — a laid-back, slacker rock that’s part Pavement part Pixies part Grifters, essential ’90s indie, often slow, sometimes quiet but also bold and loud.

So packed was O’Leaver’s that I ended up standing behind the amps so I couldn’t hear frontman Bryce Hotz terribly well, though the rest of the band came in loud and clear, including cellist/keyboardist Megan Siebe and guitarist Jim Schroeder (bassist Michael Laughlin and drummer Eric Ernst round out the combo).

The set drove me to seek out the band’s recordings on Spotify; and as a result, I spent a good part of the balance of the weekend listening to last year’s eponymous release and their more recent 6-song EP Daisies, which, had I found it earlier, would have been included in my local faves for 2017.

Dirt House at O’Leaver’s Dec. 2, 2017.

Last up was Dirt House, the new band from Annie Dilocker, who has surrounded herself with some of the best musicians in Omaha. Joining Amy Carey on violin is a rhythm section consisting of drummer Roger Lewis and bass player Miwi La Lupa. It doesn’t get more solid than that.

Dilocker is a long-time music scene veteran who’s been involved in a number of projects including Sweet Pea, Hubble, and for a brief time, Digital Leather. Her piano-driven songs are reminiscent of Regina Spektor or Sarah Bareilles though her melodies aren’t as varied. Dilocker’s vocals at times got lost in the mix. I wanted her to really belt it out — a necessity when backed by such a strong band. Considering her piano skills and her melodies, I wonder how her songs would fare without a backing band.

No doubt Dirt House is beginning to capture a fan base (the audience for Dirt House looked different than the one for Son, Ambulance) and the band’s Facebook page says they’ll be recording by the end of the year. More to come.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.