Azure Ray low-ticket warning, new video; Simon Joyner heads new Bemis Music Residency project…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:43 pm October 24, 2018

Tickets are running low to the Azure Ray / Destroyer solo show this Friday…

by Tim McMahan,

This morning I got a “low ticket warning” about this Friday’s Azure Ray / Dan Bejar (Destroyer solo) show at the Bemis Center Okada Sculpture & Ceramics Facility in Omaha’s Old Market (723 South 12th Street). “Just a few $25 tickets remain” they’re saying.

The concert is part of the Bemis Art Auction and Concert 2018. Get your tickets online here.

* * *

Speaking of Azure Ray, a video for “Palindrome,” the first single off their upcoming EP Waves, dropped last Friday and it’s a hoot. It’s directed by Alan Tanner, who you might remember from the band Artsy Golfer (he also played guitar for Maria Taylor). Waves comes out Friday, and I must tell you, it’s sublime.

* * *

And speaking of The Bemis, Simon Joyner has been named to head The Bemis’ Sound Art and Experimental Music Residency Program. This is a MAJOR deal…

Here’s the Bemis press release, which went out last week:

“Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts has received a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a new Sound Art and Experimental Music Residency Program. This funding will support the first three years of a specialized track within Bemis Center’s international Artist-in-Residence program for artists pushing the boundaries of sound, composition, voice, and music of all genres. National and international artists participating in the program will receive the same level of financial, technical, and administrative support as their fellow artists-in-residence at Bemis, along with dedicated facilities for rehearsing, recording, and performing new works that expand the field of sound art and music. The program will officially launch in 2019.

“Omaha-based musician Simon Joyner will join Bemis staff to lead the program. Local sculptor and past Bemis exhibiting artist Sean Ward and local architect Jeff Day of Actual Architecture are collaborating with Joyner, and sound experts Phil Schaffart, Thorin Dickey, and Ben Brodin to design the program’s performance venue and rehearsal and recording studio in Bemis Center’s 25,000 square foot basement space. Under the guidance of Day, graduate-level architecture students in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s design-build program, FACT, are developing conceptual designs for the build-out and will begin construction in October 2018 with completion in early 2019.

“The fully equipped artist-designed performance space will offer free live shows to the community. When artists in the program are not utilizing the venue, it will be programmed with local, national and international sound artists and experimental musicians. Free public access to these performances aims to not only build greater appreciation and new audiences for sound art and experimental music but also to liberate the artists on stage to take risks and present avant-garde work.

“An international advisory committee comprised of artists, curators and other leading experts in the field will assist with the curation of the Sound Art and Experimental Music Residency Program for 2019 and 2020. Beginning in 2020, Sound Art and Experimental Music residencies for 2021 and beyond will transition to Bemis Center’s regular annual open call for applications.”

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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.


New Azure Ray EP (on Flower Moon Records); new Cursive track; Black Belt Eagle Scout, Guerilla Toss tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm September 26, 2018

Azure Ray are back with a new EP on Flower Moon Records.

by Tim McMahan,

Azure Ray, the ground-breaking duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, are back with a new EP.

Titled Waves, the album comes out Oct. 26 on Taylor’s Flower Moon label. The first new album by the duo in six years, it will be the first recording since 2002’s November EP not released on Saddle Creek Records. Earlier this year Flower Moon re-released Azure Ray’s self-titled debut and follow-up, Burn and Shiver.

This EP was about revisiting what Azure Ray has meant to us – and felt like to the listener – over the last 18 years,” says the Waves press release. “So for the last few months we’ve been demoing songs back and forth over email and Facetime between Omaha and Los Angeles, until this August when we packed up a car and drove out to a house in Joshua Tree to record. These songs are both a yearning and nostalgia for the Azure Ray of the past, and new perspectives on how and why we make music – with 18 years of love, life, and loss in between.”

The first track, “Palindrome,” dropped today. Check it out below and preorder the double A-side limited edition flexi 7-inch here.

No word of a tour yet, but Azure Ray is slated to play an Oct. 26 fund-raiser at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts with Destroyer (solo).

The new Cursive album, Vitriola, is somewhat epic, maybe the best thing they’ve done since The Ugly Organ. If you don’t believe me, check out the third track dropped from the album, “It’s Gonna Hurt.” And pre-order the mutha from 15 Passenger. The album comes out Oct. 5.

Tonight one of Saddle Creek Records’ latest roster additions, Black Belt Eagle Scout, plays at Reverb Lounge. Creek just re-released the band’s debut album, Mother of My Children. They’re opening for headliner Guerilla Toss, a red-hot Boston band that’s been kicking around since 2010, releasing albums on DFA Records, including LP Twisted Crystal, which came out earlier this month. Expect a crowd. $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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Azure Ray heads East; Saddle Creek signs Tomberlin…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm June 5, 2018
Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010.

Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010. The duo is headed to China in a couple weeks.

by Tim McMahan,

Some news…

If like me you’ve been wondering what Azure Ray has been up to, well, the duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor are headed east, as in the Far East for a tour of China.

The dates for this mini tour, announced on Facebook and elsewhere:

June 17 / Shenzen, A8 Live House
June 19 / Ghungzhou, Mao Live House
June 21 / Shanghai, Modern Sky Lab
June 23 / Beijing, Tango Live House

If you’re in the area, drop by one of the shows! Seriously, I didn’t even know the duo had been playing together. The last release I’m aware of was EP As Above So Below, released on Saddle Creek Records in 2012. Their last live show was a reunion gig at Lodge Room Highland Park this past Jan. 20.

BTW, this is not the first Asian tour for Azure Ray. The duo played China and Taiwan back in 2013.

* * *

Speaking of Saddle Creek Records, the label today announced that it’s signed Tomberlin a.k.a. Sarah Beth Tomberlin. Her debut album, At Weddings, was released as part of Joyful Noise Records’ “White Label Series” last October. Saddle Creek is re-releasing it Aug. 10 with three new songs added (pre-order here).

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and now based in Louisville, Kentucky, Tomberlin wrote most of At Weddings while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties,” according to Saddle Creek. “At Weddings is laden with reverence for music itself, for the power it has to heal others and help people navigate their lives.”

It’s turning out to be a big year for Saddle Creek, and I’m sure there are more announcements 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Clips (Azure Ray, Machete Archive, Oberst); Icky Blossoms’ presale; Nightbird tonight; Kevin Devine Saturday; Shy Boys Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:58 pm February 27, 2015
Ah, Leonard, we hardly knew ye...

Ah, Leonard, we hardly knew ye…

by Tim McMahan,

A few news clips to share that you may not have stumbled across on Facebook.

— Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor talks about Omaha and compares it to Athens in this Red & Black article that implies Maria still lives in Omaha. Does she? I thought she moved a few years ago.

— Both Beep Beep and Machete Archive get a shout out in this Fayetteville Flyer article about a band called The Inner Party. It just so happens that Ian Francis, who played in both Nebraska bands, played drums on Inner Party’s new album, The Inner Party Makes a Mess.

— The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle joined Conor Oberst on stage for a cover of Tom Petty’s “Walls” during a concert in Sydney, as reported in this Sydney Morning Herald review. When isn’t Oberst out performing. Is he the hardest working singer-songwriter in the business?

* * *

Earlier this week Icky Blossoms announced the presale of their new Saddle Creek Records release Mask and the label already has sold out of the limited edition deluxe vinyl version (only 200 to be pressed). However, you can still order the white vinyl for $17, which comes with a digital download. There are two different release dates for this album — May 12 (CD/Digital) and May 26 (Vinyl).

According to the press release:

The band experimented with making electronics sound organic and organic instruments feel electronic. Song skeletons were embellished with tuned 808’s, hyper-effected mouth noises, screams as instruments, and guitars run through synthesizers. Their influences range from Fad Gadget to Beyonce and the subject matter varies from wrestling with the isolation of existence to the emotional spectrum of love.

Produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) at ARC Studios, contributors include assistant engineer Ben Brodin (Conor Oberst band), bassist Graham Ulicny (Reptar), drummer Daniel Ocanto (Big Harp) and Todd Fink (The Faint).

If this first track off the record is any indication, this could be a big one for the band and the label. Blondie ain’t got nothing on Sarah Bohling…

* * *

So what’s happening this weekend?

Tonight (Friday) sludge/stoner rock band Nightbird is playing at Omaha’s most beloved punk rock bar, The Brothers Lounge. Also on the bill are Members of the Press (featuring Randy Cotton) and Night Push. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, back in Benson, the country stylings of The Electroliners headline at the Barley Street Tavern tonight with 24 Hour Cardlock, The Willards Band and Michael Hinckley. $5, 9 p.m.

Speaking of The Brothers Lounge, the bar is hosting another Bar Stool Record Swap Saturday afternoon starting at 4 p.m. Local records stores such as Almost Music and Homer’s along with other traders will be on hand to sell and trade vinyl. More info here.

Saturday night Satchel Grande returns to The Waiting Room. Joining them is jazz-rock band Old Money. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, Low Long Signal headlines at Reverb Lounge with Anonymous Henchmen and Virgin Mary Pistol Grip. $5, 9 p.m.

Down in Slowdown’s big room Saturday night is Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. Opening is New Jersey act Dads and Brooklyn’s Field Mouse. $13, 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday night Shy Boys headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Opening is our very own Miniature Horse a.k.a. Rachel Tomlinson Dick, and Chicago baroque pop experimentalist J Fernandez. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a good weekend and as my favorite Vulcan used to say: Live long and prosper.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


CD Reviews YTD 2012 (in the column, and right here); The Wombats, Kite Pilot, Pony Wars tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:56 pm September 27, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

I typically don’t run my Reader column in this here blog because it typically doesn’t focus on music (and this is a music blog after all). Sure, I add a line of hype about the column on Thursdays, but then I simply link to it. Well, this week I can’t find the column online at So because of that, and because the focus this week is on music, I’ve included it below. As always, you can also read it in print in The Reader.

Over the Edge: Of Sound Mind (and Opinion)
CD Reviews, YTD 2012

This week’s column is a return to my old indie music criticism schtick. Because I still listen to music — lots of it — and have more than 20 years’ experience writing about it, which I think gives my critical analysis a modicum of relevance.

Or maybe not.

The role of the music critic has become somewhat (mostly) marginalized. Anyone interested in modern music with the available income to purchase it also has access to Spotify or one of the other music streaming services that makes (most) new music available with the flick of a finger from their iPhone/Android/computer-powered listening device.

In other words, if you want to know if the latest buzz band is worth listening to you no longer have to risk your hard-earned ducats and make a blind purchase like in the old days. Now all you have to do is listen to it online. That means the critic’s role has been relegated to: 1) saving you time by pointing you toward an interesting path, or 2) validating your already made-up mind.

Reviews don’t even mean that much from a marketing perspective since artists don’t (and can’t) rely on income from album sales anymore. The ones who want to make a living making music depend on income generated at live performances. Still, if they’re going to get butts in seats, they have to get their music heard in the first place, and maybe that’s where the critics come in. My how the world has changed in just 10 years.

With all that in mind here are my impressions of some recent music, for what it’s worth…

Purity Ring, Shrines (4AD/Last Gang) — Chime-bot sounds from outer-space tone rockers is at its best when melody outdoes beat, but man it can get tiresome.

Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers II (In the Red) — A crowing cock-a-doodle-doo of a garage punk band, no one does it better or with more style. Stands for Orange County if you’re wondering. So why can’t we get them to come to Omaha?

Digital Leather, Yes, Please, Thank You (Southpaw) — Another in a series of recordings (something like four LP/EP releases in the last couple years?) that sounds like Gary Numan post-wave synth rock bolted to a doped-up garage-punk band. One of Omaha’s finest. BTW, this is a cassette-only release. Yes, you read that right.

Peace of Shit, Business as Usual (Rainy Road) — Local perusers of thee garage aesthetic write songs as clever (or crass) as their name. Also on cassette (I see a luddite trend here).

Two Gallants, The Bloom and the Blight (ATO) — This original snarling guitar-and-drum purveyors of the punk sea shanty waited until they left Saddle Creek to make the best record of their careers. They’ve never been more focused, or ferocious.

Cat Power, Sun (Matador) — Chan Marshall puts aside afternoon-light fragment pop for something more upbeat, trippy, tuneful and almost happy, until you listen to the words.

Azure Ray, As Above So Below (Saddle Creek) — By combining the best of their respective solo projects, the Fink/Taylor duo have (finally) struck the perfect balance between strutting and soulful, sounding (finally) comfortable in their own skins.

TEEN, In Limbo (Carpark) — Maybe the best all-girl indie rock band going. Less self-assured than Best Coast, but better.

Ember Schrag, The Sewing Room (Single Girl Married Girl / Edible Onion) — Local singer/songwriter’s clear-as-a-bell coffee-shop folk ruminations, worth it if only for the perfect jewel of “Your Words.”

Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky (Jagjaguwar) — Everything ‘80s is new again, at least to the young ears that weren’t around the first time. As good as anything they did back then, at times even better.

Bob Mould, Silver Age (Merge) — Everything ‘80s is new again, again. Bob put away his dancing shoes and rediscovered his electric guitar and hasn’t sounded this good since his Sugar days.

The xx, Coexist (Young Turks) — Among the hottest (or most heralded) of the droll vibe bands, no matter how much I try it bores the shit out of me.

McCarthy Trenching, Plays the Piano (Slumberparty) — Half ragtime instrumentals and half ragtime-influenced piano ballads, they say he’s Omaha’s Randy Newman but he’s really just a nice guy lost in better days. And I like his “Solace” better than Marvin’s.

The Intelligence, Everybodys Got It Easy But Me (In the Red) — The best under-the-radar indie rock collection that you’ll probably never find. By the numbers, but it still gets me every time.

PUJOL, United States of Being (Saddle Creek) — Proof that Saddle Creek still has a nose for finding new talent (even though Jack White found it first). All his earlier recordings have been leading up to this. Not anthemic, but epic nonetheless.

David Byrne and St. Vincent, Love This Giant (4AD) — Waters down the best parts of both, it’s not weird enough to be interesting and not straight-forward enough to be interesting.

Violens, True — Everything ‘80s is new again, the dream-pop edition. Lush.

Wild Nothing, Nocturne (Captured Tracks) — Everything ‘90s is new again, the (upbeat) shoe-gaze edition.

Twin Shadow, Confess (4AD) — A dizzying trip back to ’80s electro-pop with a sound that recalls everything from General Public to Fine Young Cannibals to New Order to Peter Gabriel. If you’re gonna steal a style, this is how to do it.

Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge) — Better than the last couple Spoon albums (or anything by Wolf Parade).

Various Artists, Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac (Hear Music) — Unnecessary tribute album’s only highlights are Billy Gibbons’ “Oh Well,” and Antony’s fey “Landslide,” though it’ll make you want to seek out the source material.

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at Published in The Omaha Reader, Sept. 27, 2012.

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Tonight at The Slowdown it’s Liverpool indie-rock trio The Wombats (Bright Antenna). Their sound has been described as “post-punk” but falls much closer to alt-pop or power-pop. Some say they’re destined for Arctic Monkey-level stardom. Who knows… maybe. This one was originally scheduled for the “junior room,” but was moved to the big stage thanks to pre-sales. Opening is Morning Parade and The Royal Concept. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, our old pals Kite Pilot is playing tonight at The Sydney with Betsy Wells and Black Jonny Quest. $5, 9 p.m.

Last but not least, Pony Wars (Craig Korth, Craig Meier, Mike Brannan, Eric Ebers) is headlining a show tonight at O’Leaver’s with I Was Totally Destroying It and Millions of Boys. $5, 9:30 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New Azure Ray, Baby Tears, Drastic Plastic music/merch; Digital Leather, Agent Orange, Killer Blow debut, The Fixx, La Armada, Mugen Hoso tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 21, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

This being a semi-quiet Tuesday, I’m taking this opportunity to clean out the ol’ in-box. Bear with me…

Despite a release date of Sept. 4, the Saddle Creek Shop down at the Slowdown complex today announced that it’s selling right now copies of Azure Ray’s new CD/LP As Above So Below, very likely to the consternation of the folks at Homer’s Records. The shop also will have the limited edition (of 250) pink vinyl version of the record, only available at the shop or from the Saddle Creek online store. Pricing breakdown: CD – $7; LP – $13, and Limited Edition LP – $19.

* * *

Doom Town Records, in cooperation with Rainy Road Records, says it will be releasing Baby Tears’ first full-length LP, Rusty Years, this Thursday, Aug 24, when all pre-orders will be shipped. The band plans to host a release show Oct. 7 at Barley Street Tavern. Until then, order your copy of Rusty Years right here.

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The Iggy Pop Bobblehead

The Iggy Pop Bobblehead

Drastic Plastic is expanding on its  merch offerings with new a label, Silver Saucer CDs. “Silver Saucer’s mission is to do for CDs what Drastic Plastic Records does for vinyl: ensuring the continued availability and best possible sound for seminal recordings,” quote-eth their press release. “Our first release is Agent Orange’s classic Living in Darkness. The CD features the original LP track list with a limited initial run of 1,000 copies.” Street date is Sept. 18.

In addition, Drastic Plastic records announced the Oct. 2 vinyl-only release of The Gun Clubs’ classic from 1984, The Las Vegas Story, as a remastered, 180-gram, opaque-green vinyl offering limited to just 500 pressings.

And if that wasn’t enough, Drastic is in the bobblehead business with a 7-inch tall Iggy Pop bobblehead. Limited to 1,000, it’s the second in their bobblehead series, with George Clinton and Fulci Zombie slated for the bobblehead treatment in the near future. Street date on the doll is Oct. 9. I’m assuming you’ll be able to pick up all these items down at Drastic Plastic or go to

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Now onto tonight’s shows, and there’s a ton…

Digital Leather returns from their West Coast swing tonight for a gig at The Sydney in Benson. They open for Agent Orange (now on Silver Saucer CDs), along with Video Ranger. $10, 9:30.

Killer Blow is a new duo debuting tonight at The Barley Street Tavern. Featuring Todd VonStup on guitar (Baby Tears, ex-The Shanks) and Genie Molkentine on drums and vocals, their sound has been described as mix of garage pop and British New Wave. Check out there cover of “Love Rules,” by Pens, below. Also on the bill are Moses Prey and Daikaiju from Hunksville. $5, 9 p.m.

Killer Blow, “Love Rules”


Also tonight, ’80s post-wave alternative icons The Fixx plays at The Waiting Room with Lonely Estates. 8 p.m., $25.

La Armada, who just opened for Strung Out last week, plays again tonight at The Sandbox with Living Victim, Bad Vibes and Red Lion. $7, 8 p.m.

Finally, Japanese punk band Mugen Hoso turns up tonight for a free show at The Hideout. Opening is The Big Al Band. Starts at 9:30.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New Azure Ray in September; Cursive returns to Omaha; and oh yeah, Red Sky starts tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm July 18, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Azure Ray, As Above So Below (2012, Saddle Creek)

Azure Ray, As Above So Below (2012, Saddle Creek)

Azure Ray announced yesterday that the street date for As Above So Below, their latest 6-song set on Saddle Creek, drops Sept. 4. Expect dope beats: “We enlisted my husband and Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes, Now It’s Overhead) as our dream team,” said Orenda Fink, wife to Todd Fink of The Faint. Get a download of track “Scattered Like Lives” right here at Stereogum by submitting your email address.

In other Creek news, Cursive announced an extensive summer and fall tour that begins at the end of July and brings them to Slowdown Oct. 28 opening for their old pals Minus the Bear. I can never get enough Cursive…

What else?

Oh yeah, the Red Sky Music Festival begins tonight at the Ameritrade Ballpark. Rascal Flatts.

Remember a couple years ago, when Red Sky was first announced, how people thought it was going to be a significant event?

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 347: Maria Taylor talks about being in a family way, critics and her new album; Drive By Truckers tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm October 26, 2011

Maria Taylor
Column 347: Baby on Board: Maria Taylor’s Family Plan

by Tim McMahan,

Singer/songwriter Maria Taylor is having a baby.

She dropped that bomb during an interview last week with the Arizona State University student newspaper, The State Press. And although the Saddle Creek Records chanteuse, who is also half of the duo of Azure Ray, is on a tour with a new solo album, I couldn’t think of a more important topic of discussion.

“Well, I can tell you that I met my boyfriend at a show in Washington, D.C.,” Taylor said while lying down in the tour van before her show Monday night in Portland. “He’s the first non-musician I’ve ever dated. He’s a Chief of Staff for a politician — I’m not going to tell you who.”

The reason for keeping his anonymity: “I haven’t asked him if he wants me to talk about it,” Taylor said. “He’s a really wonderful person. If I’m going to move to Washington, D.C., he must be a wonderful person. I remember driving into (Washington) before I met him, I was sitting in back-to-back traffic as always and I said, ‘Watch me meet someone from here and have to move to this f***ing town.'”

She went on to say Washington isn’t that bad. In fact, the more she experiences its history, museums and parks, the more she likes it. So the plan is to move to Washington, have the baby and then start touring again with baby in tow. “And my mom will be tour nanny,” Taylor said. “She just retired and wants to see the country. I plan on working on an Azure Ray record before having the baby to get as much done as we can. So the Azure Ray tour will be the first baby tour.”

They say having a baby changes everything, but does that include the way you write music? “I feel like it will,” Taylor said. “I draw from what’s happening in my life when I write. I imagine my disposition will be different, and it will even affect the sound as well as the lyrics.”

Taylor, both as a solo artist and in Azure Ray, has defined her music with deeply personal love songs, a style that seems almost passé as she’s about to enter a different stage in life, but she’s still not sure if she’ll leave love songs behind. “I haven’t written a song since I found out I was pregnant,” she said. “I might feel like focusing on different aspects of life, but what if I’m not good at that? I need to start writing again, but right now I’m real sick and on tour, and I don’t write when I’m on tour. I’ve been throwing up a lot. I haven’t felt creative.”

She said she didn’t think she would be sick just three months into the pregnancy — her due date is April 30 (“A Taurus,” she adds), and she won’t find out if it’s a boy or girl until after the tour.

“I was told I would feel amazing, but my body just shuts down at 9 p.m. and I get shaky and go to bed and get sick again” she said. “I can’t drink and I have social anxiety. It’s not the same experience to tour pregnant, but I feel like I’m conquering my fears. I’m talking to people every night and battling sickness.

“The cool thing is that I feel like the baby has all of its organs and just grows and gets bigger,” she added. “I can’t help thinking that I’m teaching it rhythms. It feels the vibrations. We really rock out, so I think it’s going to be a drummer or bass player.”

Maria Taylor, Overlook (Saddle Creek Records, 2011)

Maria Taylor, Overlook (Saddle Creek Records, 2011)

With songs like guitar-driven grinder “Matador” and strobing, soaring album opener “Masterplan,” Overlook, Taylor’s new album released this past August, may be her most diverse collection to date. The album balances the rock with Taylor’s usual delicate, reflective material, like the dreamy “Happenstance,” and somber “This Could Take a Lifetime.” Critical response also has been rather diverse — reviewers either love it or say the record sounds too rushed.

“I feel like I shot myself in the foot in the press release,” Taylor said, laughing. “I said I locked myself in a room and wrote it in two weeks. I feel like (critics) think I didn’t spend enough time and that it was thrown together. I could have written all my records that way. If I said I’d spent two years on it, they would say it was my best record yet. People who loved it probably didn’t read the press release.”

Overlook marks a return to Saddle Creek after Taylor strayed to Nettwerk to release 2009’s Ladyluck. She said the label switch was merely testing different waters. “There are pros and cons about each label,” she said. “Nettwerk put a lot of money into it, but we didn’t make it back, so I didn’t make money. With Saddle Creek, you can recoup and make money, and that’s hard to do these days. I don’t want to have to wait tables or go back to school.”

For now the biggest question is how Taylor will balance her career and motherhood. While her life is about to change forever, she said her new arrival won’t keep her from making music.

“When I’m on stage that one hour, I’m 100 percent happy,” she said. “I have social anxiety, but I feel like I’m connecting with people, and singing is my favorite thing to do in the world, especially on stage with my friends and family. I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life not doing that. I need that.”

Maria Taylor plays with Big Harp and Dead Fingers Sunday, Oct. 30, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St.. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 402.345.7569 or visit

* * *’

I admit to not being terribly familiar with Drive By Truckers, though last weekend I was walking around Homer’s and heard part of their latest album, Go-Go Boots, over the store’s sound system and liked what I heard. The band is playing tonight at Slowdown with Those Darlins. $25, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Kyle Harvey opens a show at The Waiting Room for Boulder-based folk rocker Gregory Alan Isakov. South of Lincoln also is on the bill. $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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Kasher debuts Pop Matters’ vid interviews; Azure Ray/Sparklehorse, Bright Eyes mp3s; Buffett does a header…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:51 pm January 26, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Re: Yesterday’s Special Comment: I humbly and proudly stand corrected.

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Tim Kasher has the honor of being the subject for the debut of Pop Matters new video interview series. “Backstage at Chicago’s historic Vic Theatre, Kasher was candid and open with us, discussing why he chose not to write two more Ugly Organ‘s, how he deals with the frustration of those who feel somewhat betrayed by his songs not being autobiographical, and—after coming clean with some of his regrets—how getting to open for The Cure was one of the highlights of his life.” It’s a nice five minutes. Check it out.

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Bright Eyes’ new free mp3 from the upcoming The People’s Key, “Halle Selassie,” is a real grinder. It chugs along on top of a 6/8 electric guitar riff that provides a strangely formal structure for Conor’s heavily delayed vocals. If someone asks me what is one of the threads that runs through classic Saddle Creek artists’ music, I tell them it’s a penchant for waltz-time arrangements, and in that context, this is sort of a throwback. You can get a download key for the song delivered to your email box through the widget below.

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Meanwhile, Azure Ray is giving away an 3mp of its new single, “Silverlake,” recorded with their friends in Sparklehorse. It’s a non-album track from the Drawing Down the Moon sessions, and as such, isn’t much of a departure from the usual AR fair, which means pretty harmonies and melodies and everything else you expect from Maria and Orenda. The two-song single includes ”Silverlake” and ”Silverlake (demo),” and is available via iTunes and the Saddle Creek Online Store. Download widget below:

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Finally, there’s this story from USA Today, which could have a major impact on the Omaha’s Red Sky Music Festival.

Buffett’s in stable condition, btw…

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Tomorrow, the story behind what makes tick.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Tim Fite, Azure Ray; Dapose, Marijuana Deathsquads, Ghostface Killah tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:42 pm November 4, 2010
Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010.

Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

I fully intended to see Azure Ray last night at Slowdown. In fact, I even went down to Slowdown for the show, but unfortunately something came up and I had to leave shortly after taking the above photo during their first song. What very little I heard was, as you’d expect, lovely.

I was disappointed with the crowd size. Maybe 200? Maybe more. The balcony was closed and only about half the floor was filled. Slowdown never seemed so enormous. I guess Maria was right — maybe people don’t know that they’ve got a new album out, even though there were stories in all the usual print media.

I did get to see opener Tim Fite, which was an experience. Fite is a one-man performer who sang along with pre-recorded tracks and a video presentation, all the while doing everything he could to engage the audience (and doing a good job of it). His music is acoustic folk in sort of the Randy Newman vein (pretty stuff) blended with low-bass-beat hip-hop (which was just OK). There’s something about his style that recalls Devo/Talking Heads AV and the childish humor of Daniel Johnston. I haven’t met Fite, but I have to believe that he’s playing a character up there. No one could be that whimsical and fun in real life, but you never know.

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Column 295 was a slight recasting of my review of Bad Luck Charm at The 49’r. You can read the original here. There’s no reason to repost it. However, if you want to see the changes (new lead, new ending) check it out on The Reader‘s website, here (or better yet, pick up a copy of the paper). How long until the wrecking ball makes its first appearance?

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Big show tonight at O’Leaver’s. The headliner is Dapose, who is, of course, Dapose from the Faint rolling out songs from his new record, just released on blank.wav. Marijuana Death Squads is experimental electronics and percussion featuring dudes from Gayngs and Song of Zarathustra. Slapping Purses is, according to the show’s Facebook listing, “one-man beatstorm with suitcases full of electronics and a crazy microphone covered in switches. He opened for the Faint last time at First Ave.” $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah is at The Waiting Room with Sheek Louch, Frank Dukes, & Maxilla Blue. $25, 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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.