Music Visions of 2018 (What will happen next year in the Omaha music scene (and beyond)?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:00 pm January 2, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

You’ve seen what happened in 2017, now read what will happen next year in the world of music. This was originally published in The Reader, also in print this week.

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The year 2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac, but something tells me the music of 2018 will be anything but doggy! But wait, before we get to the predictions for next year, let’s see how well I did with my 2017 predictions

2017 Prediction: With the inauguration of Donald Trump, most indie artists will write at least one controversial track this year, but don’t look for these protest songs on the pop charts.

Reality: Downtown Boys lit the fuse with their take on “The Wall” between U.S. and Mexico; Fiona Apple went after a certain someone with “Tiny Hands,” and Priests sang about a “Pink White House,” but for the most part, we’re still waiting for the anger to come out. Come on, rock stars.

2017 Prediction: A system will emerge that will give starving musicians some sort of subsidy that will allow them to perform their craft.

Reality: Wishful (and some would say deluded) thinking in the Trump Era.

2017 Prediction: Hear Nebraska will emerge in 2017 bigger and stronger than ever, with programs that are even more artist-focused than in the past.

Reality: Nebraska’s music non-profit merged with Lincoln’s The Bay to form super non-profit Rabble Mill that will be bigger and stronger than its parts.

2017 Prediction: More quasi-independent booking agents will emerge to help finance and organize the booking of touring indie shows at local clubs.

Reality: It’s happening, though you may not notice it, yet. To keep up, check out “Nebraska DIY” on Facebook.

2017 Prediction: Watch as Virtual Reality (VR) integrates into live performances, allowing people to feel like they’re at live rock shows while standing in their underwear in their bedrooms.

Reality: On Oct. 4 Matchbox Twenty broadcasted a concert from Denver billed as the “first fan-controlled virtual reality experience” in 360 VR.

2017 Prediction: This will be the year we see a sort of “singularity” with streaming, when so many people will be listening to streaming services that record labels and artists will finally begin to see real income from having their music hosted online, not unlike how film studios make money from HBO and Netflix.

Reality: Streaming service subscriptions now comprise 62 percent of total music revenue in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Labels are seeing some of the money and so are the big artists, but the little guys are still left with pennies.

2017 Prediction: After reaching a 28-year high, vinyl sales finally will reach its ceiling, either leveling off or falling compared to the last couple years’ numbers.

Reality: Year-end numbers weren’t out at press-time, but as of mid-year 2017 vinyl album sales were up 3 percent, to $182 million in revenue.

2017 Prediction: You’ve heard of mix tapes, mix CDs and, of course, Spotify playlists? This year someone will offer the ability to create your own mix vinyl album.

Reality: Uh, no.

2017 Prediction: Too many legends died in 2016. This year no one leaves this earthly plane.

Reality: Unfortunately, we lost a legend in Tom Petty this past October.

2017 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Black Keys, Algiers, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Beck, Father John Misty, Monsters of Folk, Jenny Lewis, St. Vincent, Matt Whipkey, Spoon, Courtney Barnett, High Up, Nine Inch Nails, Little Brazil, and friggin’ U2. Bands we won’t be talking about: Kanye, Bright Eyes, Lady Ga Ga, The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Metallica, Morrissey, Beyonce and R.E.M.

Reality: Pretty dead on, actually, except for Black Keys and Morrissey.

2017 Prediction: While no local act will make his or her way onto a national television broadcast for a live performance, one local band will hit pay dirt in 2017 with a licensing deal that results in hearing their song in heavy rotation… via a TV commercial.

Reality: If there was one, I didn’t hear it.

Final score: 7 for 11, not bad. Now onto the Year of the Dog…

2018 Prediction: With Milk Run gone another DIY venue will emerge to try to fill the void in booking up-and-coming touring indie artists. The hook: It’s a venue you already know about.

2018 Prediction: Saddle Creek Records has been on a roll the last couple years, signing two new artists last year and hitting it out of the park with Big Thief and Hop Along. With new California offices, expect as many as three or four new bands added to the Creek roster in 2018, including at least one veteran indie band looking for a new home.

2018 Prediction: With its numerous world-class venues and recording studios, Omaha always has attracted national musicians to adopt it as their new home, but this year watch as some rather big names leave NYC and LA behind for the cheap digs and central location only Omaha can provide.

2018 Prediction: Those who freaked out when vinyl returned will be doubly shocked when cassette tapes begin to make a comeback this year. Cassettes provide a low-price alternative to music fans looking for a tangible fix who can’t afford to buy vinyl, and for musicians who can’t afford to press it.

2018 Predictions: Speaking of vinyl, as albums sales begin to flatten this year, watch as prices for new vinyl finally begin to drop. Can the $9.99 album be far behind?

2018 Prediction: Fed up with facing a crowd of people holding up smart phones during concerts, artists will implement new technology that will block smart phone cameras from operating inside venues. Now what are we gonna do between acts?

2018 Prediction: With Hi-Fi House going public last summer and Hear Nebraska merging with Lincoln’s The Bay, look for yet another music-related organization to emerge, this time as a non-profit performance venue.

2018 Prediction: In an effort to avoid suffering a sophomore (or junior) slump, more and more bands will change their names after their first of second release. Same band, different name, all to keep their music in front of the ever-fickle music public always looking for the next big thing.

2018 Prediction: With the opening of the new Capitol District we will see even more live original music somewhere downtown other than at No-Do. When was the last time you went to an indie show in the Old Market?

2018 Prediction: As the Maha Music Festival turns 10 this year, expect a mega-spectacular headliner and possibly the festival’s expansion to a two-day event. The time has come.

2018 Prediction: You thought Prince’s and Bowie’s deaths were earth shakers, someone even bigger will be knocking on heaven’s door this year.

2018 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Monsters of Folk, High Up, Little Brazil, David Nance, Low, Stephen Malkmus, Cursive, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Navy Gangs, Bib, Hop Along. Bands we won’t be talking about: Eminem, St. Vincent, U2, Kendrick, Lorde, The National, Fleet Foxes, The xx.

2018 Prediction: Director Alexander Payne, who is about to move back to Omaha, will be so bowled over by the area’s music scene that he not only will try to integrate Omaha music into one of his upcoming films, he’ll begin work on a movie based loosely on the Omaha music scene circa 2003. I know where you can find a screenwriter, Mr. Payne…

First published in The Reader, Jan. 1, 2018. © Copyright 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lazy-i Best of 2017

Hey, don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Lazy-i Best of 2017 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Sheer Mag, David Nance, 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.

So the big news is you, too, could win a copy of the 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.


MC Payne and DJ Russell spin the hits at The Holland; Bye-bye Brendan (at O’Leaver’s); New Pornos, Pains Pure Heart, Charlie Siren tonight…

Album sleeve for the upcoming vinyl release of the American Hustle soundtrack.

Album sleeve for the upcoming vinyl release of the American Hustle soundtrack.

by Tim McMahan,

Went to Feature VI last night at the Holland Center, the fund-raiser for Film Streams featuring directors Alexander Payne and David O. Russell. I love all of DOR’s movies (and some of Payne’s). Among the highlights was Russell showing off a double-colored-vinyl release of the soundtrack to his last film, the sublime American Hustle, which isn’t available until Black Friday Record Store Day, Nov. 28.

The album will include some rare ELO material. According to Madison Gate Records and Legacy Recordings, who are issuing the vinyl, “American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack premieres ‘Stream Of Stars,’ a previously-unreleased song from the legendary Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra, Traveling Wilburys) alongside ELO’s ‘Long Black Road,’ an ultra-rare track previously available only on the Japanese release of Zoom, ELO’s final studio album.”

Russell apparently was intimately involved in the production of the vinyl release “supplying hand-written excerpts from the script, unique imagery from the film and artwork to enhance the look and feel of the album’s gatefold and sleeve.”

It is indeed an impressive looking package, though someone has to teach these guys the proper way to treat vinyl. I cringed as Russell grabbed the colored vinyl from the sleeve and then began blowing/spitting on it and brushing it with his fingers. DJ Payne cued the tracks on a portable turntable, starting with a Duke Ellington number. Nice. But when he decided to change songs, he scraped the needle across the surface, dropping it over and over until he found the groove for an ELO song. Come on, man!

As Russell said with each Payne-induced scratch, “That’s part of the fun.” I don’t think a vinyl enthusiasts like, say, Dereck Higgins would agree…

Anyway, here’s the track listing for the record, below. I’ll be writing more about Feature VI in my column in The Reader Thursday, which is actually sort of a tribute to Film Streams…

American Hustle  Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

2LP Colored Vinyl

Side One
1. Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington
2. Dirty Work | Steely Dan *
3. A Horse With No Name | America
4. 10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra
5. I’ve Got Your Number | Jack Jones

Side Two
1. White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa
2. I Feel Love | Donna Summer
3. Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
4. Delilah | Tom Jones

Side Three
1. Live And Let Die | Wings
2. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees
3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John
4. Papa Was A Rollin Stone | The Temptations *

Side Four
1. I Saw The Light Todd Rundgren *
2. Long Black Road | Electric Light Orchestra
3. The Jean Genie | David Bowie *
4. Stream Of Stars | Jeff Lynne
5. The Coffee Song (Theyve Got An Awful Lot Of Coffee In Brazil) | Frank Sinatra *
6. Its De-Lovely Ella Fitzgerald *
7. Irving Montage | Danny Elfman

* Songs not on CD release

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Yesterday we got word that Brendan Greene-Walsh, the long-serving booker and sound man at America’s favorite divebar / rockclub, O’Leaver’s, is hanging up the reins.

“...after over 10 years of booking shows, running sound and bartending my time at O’Leaver’s will come to a close at the end of November,” Brendan wrote. “I would like to thank you who receive these emails for all you do for music in the state of Nebraska. Whether it is posting events to calendars, writing features, reviews or interviews or simply going to shows, what you do to perpetuate culture is appreciated. The club will continue on booking great shows.

So why’s he leaving? Brendan said the club decided the position needed to be restructured to add marketing and PR responsibilities, as well as have someone who could be at the venue during shows. In case you didn’t know, Brendan already has a full-time job at UNO. So who will take over the reins? Whoever it is has some massive shoes to fill…

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Tonight at The Slowdown it’s the return of New Pornographers. Tonight’s line-up is stellar, featuring A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who would be a hot-selling ticket all by themselves, is opening. $28, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, The Down Under continues its recent streak of shows with punk bands Charlie Siren, Let Yourself Go, Buggy Lewis and the Rabbit Grenades, and Wake the Neighbors. $5, 7 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


RIP MoJoPo; Almost Music launches series; Cults, Mood Rings tonight; Alexander Payne’s view of Nebraska (in the column)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:04 pm November 21, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

Word went out this morning via The Reader that long-time Reader contributor MoJoPo, a.k.a. Michael Joseph Pryor, has passed away. As long as I can remember MoJo wrote The Reader‘s Planet Power astrology column. He also was a musician and colorful addition to any crowd. I never met him and knew him only through second-hand discussion when, at a show, the person next to me would say, “Look, Mojo’s here” and point to a guy with a Dumbledore-style beard who looked like a wizard circa the 1860s wild west. Needless to say, he was a friend to a lot of musicians and people in psychedelic circles, and will be a lost patch of color in the fabric of the Omaha music scene…

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Omaha musician Luke Polipnick dropped a line to say that he and Almost Music record store proprietor Brad Smith are starting a new music series in the Solid Jackson Bookstore space he shares with his store at 6569 Maple Street in the heart of Benson.

The Almost Music Concert Series kicks off Dec. 7 with a show featuring the legendary Dereck Higgins, Luke Polipnick Esoteric Trio and Rake Kash (Lonnie Methe). “This new concert series will showcase and foster the growth of regional musical experimentation and exploration,” Polipnick said in a press release. Tickets will be $5, and shows will start at 7 p.m.

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Despite the miserable turn in the weather, the weekend (music-wise) begins tonight at The Slowdown where Cults takes the main stage. The NYC indie band caught fire with their 2011 self-titled debut. They’re back with Static, their 2013 follow-up on Columbia Records. Opening is fellow NYC band SACCO and Atlanta band Mood Rings (Mexican Summer Records). $17, 9 p.m.

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In this week’s column, a look at Alexander Payne’s new film, Nebraska, and how we’ll be combating its stereotypes for years to come. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Eli Mardock; Wayne Hancock, McCarthy Trenching tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:57 pm July 22, 2013
Eli Mardock and his band at O'Leaver's, July 19, 2013.

Eli Mardock and his band at O’Leaver’s, July 19, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

We talk about publishing rights income for musicians all the time –you know, the money a band gets when its music is used in movies, TV shows, commercials and movie trailers, etc.. Now that record sales are going the way of the dinosaur, it’s one of the few revenue generators left for independent artists. I’m not sure how it works. Labels like Saddle Creek offer agent services to some of its artists, and I’m sure other labels do, too.

I bring it up because Eli Mardock’s music is tailor made for secondary use in marketing media. I’m not sure if that’s a shot or a compliment. In the case of his new record, it’s meant as a tip of the hat. The record’s title track, “Everything Happens for the First Time,” is movie trailer gold. Attention Alexander Payne: You would be wise to seek out this track for the trailer of your next feel-good-heartbreak-romance-coming-of-age comedy. I can already see it in my mind’s eye: The green “This Preview is approved…” screen fades to black, followed by the song’s opening five-note chords (and breathy “ha’s”) to fade in on George Clooney (or whoever Payne’s working with this time) running along a beach or highway as heartfelt comedy ensues.

Why is this record’s music so well-suited for secondary use? Well, in addition to Mardock’s uncanny knack for writing stuck-in-your-head melodies, the album is impeccably recorded. This is the best-recorded record I’ve heard out of Omaha in a long time, and that includes all the Saddle Creek stuff. It is stunningly well produced, and the vinyl sounds even better (I guess because my stereo is better than my iPhone soundwise). Beautiful studio work by Mardock (with mixing by Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, Strokes, Muse)). By the way, Mardock tells me this was recorded, “In my bedroom, in my basement, in an empty building on I street...” ???

The songs themselves are as well-crafted, though it’s easy to spot the (perceived) influences in this record. That title-track/opener is equal parts Arcade Fire and ELO. “Theologians Tell Me” sounds like an homage to Pink Floyd’s “Money.” Lush, tonally dense tracks like “Hold On” recall Bowie and Radiohead.

I don’t care what music you’re listening to, you’re going to pick out references in the melodies — that’s the nature of rock music. The important thing is for the artist to put his or her own spin on it, and Mardock certainly does that. His style is recognizable, from the minor key builds in his song structures to his personal vocal style, which is among the most unique in today’s indie. Listening to this record with my wife, she said she can finally clearly hear Eli’s voice — something that she said is missing when she’s seen him perform live.

Well, the wife wasn’t along Friday night, but she would have had a similar complaint. While you could hear Eli and the rest of the band on O’Leaver’s “stage,” the live set lacked the drama of the record in part due to the limitations of the sound system and the mix. Eli Mardock is one of the very few Nebraska bands that actually sounds better on records because they’re so damn well recorded. To match that level of sound quality would require a Slowdown or Waiting Room, and even then it’s tricky business. Certainly it can’t be done easily with a small club sound rig, which could make his touring a bit… challenging.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room Bloodshot Records artist Wayne “The Train” Hancock headlines. Get a taste of his live show below via YouTube. Opening is good ol’ McCarthy Trenching. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Lord Huron plays at Slowdown with Enscondido. $10, 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.