Kevin Coffey launches Pops and Hisses; Hear Nebraska becomes Rabble Media; Bright Eyes Tiny Desk (Home) concert…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 28, 2020
Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst during the NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert.

And just like that, a weekend after announcing his demise at the Omaha World-Herald former OWH music reporter Kevin Coffey has launched a new music blog – Pops and Hisses. Look for music news, interviews, criticism and more, and now that Kevin is untethered from the OWH editorial yoke, expect spicy takes that we’re not used to seeing in Omaha’s great grey lady.

Another recent addition to our tiny music journalism world is Rabble Media. The successor to Hear Nebraska launched a couple weeks ago. According to the website, Rabble Media is a “for-youth, by-youth storytelling platform working to connect, engage, and develop digitally skilled young people (roughly 14-24) across urban and rural Nebraska.” The site will include stories on music, arts, culture, skateboarding, wellness, and civic engagement — which is a much broader scope than good ol’ Hear Nebraska’s original editorial mission.

Pops and Hisses and Rabble Media are welcome additions to what has become a rather barren landscape for music and arts writing. Who knows what will happen at the OWH now that Kevin is gone. As far as I can tell, Jim Minge is still publishing his Dispatch newsletter, but that’s just a calendar; good ol’ Omahype disappeared years ago.

Then there’s The Reader. It’s trying to reinvigorate its online presence, but the focus has been on the news side. BJ Huchtemann still writes about the local blues scene while Houston Wiltsey covers music outside that genre (mostly indie and pop); but both writers’ efforts are mostly for The Reader‘s monthly printed paper (which eventually make it online).

You could ask what’s the point of having music publications when there’s social media. Most bands post their upcoming gigs on their Facebook pages, and there’s no lack of music opinion on your typical news feed. That said, few people posting in social media do any sort of reporting or research. There’s value in reading local music news, interviews and opinion from sources outside the social media fray. At least there is for me, and apparently for you too, or you wouldn’t be reading this…

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The NPR Tiny Desk concert series today launched a Bright Eyes Tiny Desk (Home) concert. Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, presumably in ARC Studios here in Omaha, and Nate Walcott somewhere in LA perform threes songs off their new Bright Eyes album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, and “Shell Games,” off The People’s Key. The episode is directed by acclaimed filmmaker and local musician Nik Fackler no less. Check it out:

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The return of Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst on the new album, COVID-19 and the good ol’ days (in the column)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:30 pm September 10, 2020
Bright Eyes circa 2020 from left are Nate Walcott, Conor oberst and Mike Mogis.

In this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader, an interview/feature on Bright Eyes wherein the fearless frontman Conor Oberst talks about the band’s new album, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (2020, Dead Oceans), how he’s coping with the pandemic and his love of the folks he played with during the good ol’ days when Omaha was the shining star of the indie music world.

You can read it in the current print edition of The Reader, on news stands now (I picked up my copy at Hy-Vee, but you can find them all over town). You also can read it online right here at The Reader‘s website.

Some background on the interview: It was conducted Aug. 19 over the phone with Oberst calling from his home here in Omaha. We spent most of the 30-some minutes talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and what he’s been doing since it started. It’s all well-covered in the article. Discussing the new album actually came as an afterthought toward the end of the interview.

Among the content that didn’t make it into the story were his thoughts on the actual making of the album. I asked what was the toughest part of putting it together. He said it was effortless for the three of them — Conor, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis — to jump back in after nine years away from the project.

“As you know, all Bright Eyes records are kind of different,” he said. “There’s different players, and so it was exciting to get to work with, like, Jon Theodore (of Queens of the Stone Age), Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), and people that we had never worked with before. So I can’t really pinpoint something that was like really hard. As with all the records, you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a little bit of mystery and there’s a little bit of excitement, but that was stuff I love. I never thought that it’d be, like, Flea doing a slap-bass thing on a Bright Eyes record in my life, but it sounds cool when he does it.”

Check out the article here. I’ll also post it on this website in a few days…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes on Colbert; new album drops Aug. 21…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:17 pm June 23, 2020
A screen cap from last night’s Bright Eyes performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It was a busy day for Bright Eyes yesterday. The outfit led by Conor Oberst announced a new single, “Mariana Trench” and the name and tracklist for their new album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, out Aug. 21 on Dead Oceans.

And the band performed sort of live on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which you can watch below. See Conor sporting what looks like strangler gloves, Mike Mogis in a seed cap and Nate Walcott splitting time between keyboards and trumpet. It’s the band’s first performance in 10 years. Like I told you, they never broke up.

From the press release: “As a title, as a thesis, Down In The Weeds Where the World Once Was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable.”

After hearing the first four tracks, it sounds like this is going to be another doomsday album from Bright Eyes, which will make a nice bookend with the new one by Conor’s partner in crime, Phoebe Bridgers, which came out last Thursday: Punisher, also on Dead Oceans (poor Saddle Creek).

This new Bright Eyes track is the best one so far, certainly the most upbeat, and along with “Forced Convalescence” sounds like a natural progression post-Cassadaga had the band not gone wandering for a decade, certainly more so than the wooden, folky stuff Conor released on Ruminations/Salutations

No word on a tour yet. Imagine a Bright Eyes / Phoebe Bridgers / Better Oblivion Community Center joint tour. I think my head just exploded…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes cancels tour through mid-June; why aren’t artists backing NIVA efforts? Old Cactus Nerve Thang, new Beauty Pill, PUP…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm April 27, 2020

D.C. band Beauty Pill has a new single from a forthcoming album.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last Friday Bright Eyes sent out a press release saying it is cancelling or rescheduling a number of U.S. dates beginning in May through mid June.

From the release: “Regretfully, yet predictably, we have had to re-think many of our upcoming tour dates. We hope to be in a better position to gather and celebrate at a later date.

No surprise here. Hey guys, when’s the album coming out?

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What I am surprised about is why artists haven’t jumped onto the NIVA efforts to drum up legislation to help venues, promoters and artists sidelined by the COVID pandemic. NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, which I wrote about here last week (take a look).

I assumed this week we’d see a bunch of artists voicing support for NIVA’s lobbying effort, which will no doubt impact them and their careers greatly. And yet, I haven’t seen a word on social media or elsewhere from artists lending their support. Or maybe it’s too soon for them to act? Certainly amplifying NIVA’s current efforts can’t be a bad thing.

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A couple new songs came through my email this morning.

Beauty Pill is a D.C.-based indie rock act that’s been kicking around since 2002, born out of the ashes of another band I dug called Smart Went Crazy. The band has a new album coming out May 8 on Northern Spy Records called Please Advise. “The Damndest Thing” is the second single. Check it out out.

The last concert I saw before the lock down was PUP at The Waiting Room March 4. Fun show. The band today released its first new song of 2020 called “Anaphylaxis.” Check it:

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I almost forgot…

Once upon a time there was an Omaha band called Cactus Nerve Thang. It consisted of Lee Meyerpeter, guitar/vocals; Pat Dieteman, drums/vocals and Brian Poloncic, bass/vocals. Their sound was a sloppy mix of lo-fi noise, rock, grunge and punk. Their one and only album, Sloth, was recorded in ’93 at Junior’s Hotel in Otho, Iowa, and released on Grass Records, and featured what many believe to be one of the ugliest album covers in the history of recorded music (though I don’t think it was that bad).

Over the weekend someone posted an old Cactus Nerve Thang performance on YouTube: “Rose,” performed live at Davey’s Uptown in KCMO, 2/19/1993. Enjoy.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes drops another one; more depressing COVID music news…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:21 pm April 22, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday Bright Eyes dropped the second song from their upcoming album on Dead Oceans. The track, “Forced Convalescence,” features a bevvy of guest players including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jon Theodore from Queens of the Stone Age.

From the press release:

“’Forced Convalescence’ finds Conor Oberst at his world-weary best, picking apart the human condition and struggling to reconcile the past with whatever the future holds. All from the comfort of his bed. The slick, near-joyous sounding fever dream grows into a rich and languid swirl with help from a gospel choir. This may be as close to a Rat Pack-era lounge singer as Oberst has ever come. Albeit one with a head full of prose and existential angst.”

Check it out below:

No word on the album’s release date. I can’t imagine they’re in any hurry with touring on hold everywhere.

I’ve been mulling over how bars and venues are going to reopen and allow shows when things begin to ease up COVID-wise. There’s no doubt some states will be opening much sooner than others.

If you believe what it says at this COVID website, social easing wouldn’t begin in Nebraska (and Iowa) until July, whereas Missouri could start as early as June 7 and Minnesota would start May 30, all based on projected peaks, etc. Hot spots like California could begin in mid-May.

With such a random pattern — each state doing its own thing — how are bands supposed to book tours? I guess when you can’t even fathom how a venue will be able to even host a show, tour booking is probably not front of mind.

This NME article describes a show in Sweden where “a room that can hold 350, capacity is restricted to 40 punters – plus a sound engineer, two members of staff and the band, bringing the number up to the guidelines of 50 people in total.

Think about applying similar limitations at our clubs. How many could you allow in for a typical show at The Waiting Room and “be safe”? Fifty? Slowdown’s big room, maybe 75? How about tiny Reverb or fabulous O’Leaver’s?

That being the case, it seems more likely that we’ll see small local live shows before we see any big name touring acts. Or, imagine if you booked a band that would naturally sell out The Slowdown. Could you up the price for tickets knowing they would be limited to fewer than 100? It would be like an intimate performance, with people standing 6 to 8 feet apart… Still, very unlikely when you’re going to have a hard time just getting people to overcome their fear.

Arena shows and festivals now sound like they’ll be on hold until late 2021 or longer, if you read this Los Angeles Times article that pretty much guesses that you’re not going to see pre-COVID-style rock shows until about 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.

The margins in this business are going to be the 20% of fans who won’t go back to shows until there’s a vaccine. We’re at a point where fans can really lose a lot of confidence, and it’ll take more than a vaccine to re-engage them.”

Coachella apparently is still scheduled for sometime in October, but as the article states: Even if California does what it needs to prevent new infections locally, a 125,000-capacity music festival with fans traveling from all over would be an ideal scenario for new transmissions. Every expert interviewed said large concerts and festivals would be a terrible idea for the foreseeable future.

Ugh.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Bright Eyes song premieres; treat your live streams like live shows…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:12 pm March 24, 2020

Bright Eyes today premiered “Persona Non Grata,” the first new song by the band in nine years.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Just under 2,000 people listened in live to the world premiere of the new Bright Eyes song, “Persona Non Grata,” on YouTube this morning.

To me, what sets Bright Eyes songs apart from other Oberst-related music is the dense, fog-lit production by way of master craftsman Mike Mogis — keyboards, drums, bag pipes and Oberst at his quivering-voice best singing about heartbreak of one kind or another to a waltz-time beat. And is that Phoebe Bridgers I hear adding harmonies? Maybe, maybe…

The band said in a letter via the press release that they will be releasing a new album “this year no matter what,” though they are now reassessing touring plans. COVID-19 strikes again, eh?

All in all, it was a pretty successful song premiere. But they did have a captive audience, as we’re all trapped at home with nothing better to do. Dead Oceans (or whoever was behind the premiere) did it right by pre-announcing the exact time and sending out links via social media. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

A lot of artists are now live-streaming performances via Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, etc., but in a lot of cases (for me, anyway), people trip over them after the fact. It’s not a big deal if you’re someone like Bright Eyes, who has a fan base looking for the song, but for the rest of you, well, a little head’s up would be kind of nice.

And it’s as simple as treating your live streams like any other live show performance — i.e., create a Facebook event invitation. It’s how a lot of us keep track of upcoming performances, just like we used to for live shows (Anyone remember live shows?).

For example, the fine folks at The Sydney created a Facebook event invitation for this Friday night’s live stream featuring Mike Schlesinger and Rebecca Lowry. Now the gig will show up on my Facebook events list, just like any other live event. Take a look.

While it’s nice that folks are creating lists of live performances, like this one from NPR, who remembers to go back and look at those?

Yes, I know we’re all home anyway (as someone told me who was arguing against the idea), but the fact is even at home we’re bombarded with a million things to do. Make your live stream performances “appointment watching.”

AND, if I catch wind of your live stream – and you create a Facebook Event listing for it – it’s very likely I’ll also list it in the daily Lazy-i update. Just sayin’…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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How will COVID-19 impact rock ‘n’ roll?; Neva Dinova / Bright Eyes surprise; Las Cruxes live…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:50 pm March 11, 2020

No, it’s not the cover of the new Luna album…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My lack of updates has more to do with having little to write about than my general laziness. That said, with Cononavirus COVID-19 boiling on the horizon, I’m afraid I’ll have even less to write about in the very near future.

We all know SXSW has been deep-sixed and Coachella is being “postponed” until the fall. Forget about the festivals. The next obvious question is: When will COVID-19 result in cancellation of rock shows coming our way, and how squeamish will people be about being crushed hip-to-hip at any of our local venues?

There are still skeptics who say the whole thing is being overblown. COVID-19 will really hit home for skeptics 1) when someone they know gets it, 2) when they’ve been forced to work from home or are self-quarantined, or 3) when something they really like is taken away.

They’re talking about playing the NCAA basketball tournament in empty arenas. Isn’t it only a matter of time before more bands follow Pearl Jam’s lead and cancel their spring and summer tours? Even small indie acts?

In a time when artists — specifically indie artists — no longer make significant money from CD sales and depend on touring and merch sales for income, COVID-19 could be a real financial knee-capper. Or imagine being on tour only to have the venue reach out on the road to say it’s no longer hosting shows due to COVID-19. Now what?

Imagine you’re a brand new act like Disq, who just released a great record on Saddle Creek, with plans to tour the country and play festivals all summer. What happens if COVID-19 craters your tour? Touring by itself is a financially risky venture; even more so when three or four dates are cancelled.

On top of that, think about the medical risks bands take playing crushed venues in different towns every night? Forget about foregoing handshakes, what do you do about hugs at the merch table?

And how will music venues be financially impacted by COVID-19 from either a downturn in business, cancelled tours or cancelled shows? Will they be able to keep the lights on if they lose a few months’ worth of revenue?

So yeah, worst case scenario it could be a long, boring rock-show-free summer, and that would be a bummer, but also think about everyone in the rock ‘n’ roll food chain who will be impacted by COVID-19, and pray there are no serious long-term impacts.

Get out to the clubs while we’re still getting rock shows. Just make sure you wash your hands.

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Speaking of rock shows, our old friends in Neva Dinova have been added as the opening act to the sold out May 23 Bright Eyes concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Isn’t that a kick in the head. Maybe if we’re lucky, Jake Bellows and the boys will make a trip out to play at an Omaha Bright Eyes show (which, btw, is still non-existent).

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Omaha’s favorite Latin-language garage-punk rockers Las Cruxes did a live in-studio performance for latinalt.org. Check it out.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Random Notes: New Twinsmith single; Pitchforkfest announced; labels’ new fast release schedules; new Bright Eyes tour dates (NOmaha…)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 7:58 am February 20, 2020

Twinsmith dropped a new single yesterday.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some catching up on items old and new…

Omaha band Twinsmith has a new single out called “Dreamer,” released on Silver Street Records. As lead singer Jordan Smith describes it, “The song concept is about someone struggling with an addiction and realizing their struggle, but how hard it is to snap out of it. We all know someone going through that.” The track was produced by James Fleege at Silver Street studios in Ashland and mastered by the master, Doug van Sloun at Focus. This follows the release of the 2019 single “Feels,” the band’s Silver Street debut after apparently leaving Saddle Creek Records. Check it out below:

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Welp, they announced the line-up for this year’s Pitchfork Festival yesterday. The dates are July 17-19. Headliners are Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Run the Jewels and The National. Also on board are former Saddle Creek act Big Thief, current Saddle Creek act Hop Along, Phoebe Bridgers, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten and the return of Fiery Furnaces. Three-day Pitchforkfest passes are $185, which is kinda/sorta a bargain in the festival game.

Why do I have a feeling one of the above-mentioned bands will also be at Maha this year?

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Saddle Creek Records A&R Director Amber Carew is among those interviewed in a Billboard article that dropped yesterday that talks about why indie artists are releasing music at a much faster pace these days.

She said in the old days when she was at ANTI- Records non-LP projects was frowned upon. From the article: “‘So let’s just keep writing until you have a full LP,’” she remembers hearing. “That was always a sentiment that was given to the artists, and that doesn’t come out of my mouth anymore.” It’s all about streaming. Read the epic-ly long article here.

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And Bright Eyes announced an expanded run of tour dates yesterday, but nothing announced in Omaha yet. I suspect there will be a Bright Eyes date here at some point…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes signs to Dead Oceans, to tour in 2020; new Meth Head Steamroller…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:47 pm January 21, 2020

Bright Eyes in the recording studio.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Bright Eyes eye chart clue from Instagram.

The clues were right in front of your eyes. Yesterday followers of the Bright Eyes Instagram site were treated to photos of cryptic concert posters that all but claimed a new record and tour.

Then this morning NME reported Bright Eyes will release a new album on Dead Oceans sometime in 2020. The End of the Road Festival in Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset, England, Sept. 3-6 will be just one stop on a world tour that likely will take Conor Oberst, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis everywhere (but not to Omaha, not yet anyway).

A video of the trio in the studio with a chamber orchestra was posted on the Dead Oceans twitter feed. This from the Dead Oceans press release:

And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.”

Kind of, but if they were coming home, they would be coming back to Saddle Creek Records.

No one really thought that Bright Eyes was a dead entity. The collective is just another Oberst incarnation; it just happens to be his best incarnation. There’s a story there somewhere about why two of the crown jewels — Bright Eyes and Cursive — parted ways with the label they helped build. It can’t be money issues — could they really make that much more going to a different label (or creating their own)? Not likely; not these days.

While Oberst’s other recording projects were released on other labels, Bright Eyes was — and will always be — considered a Saddle Creek entity, no matter what Dead Oceans says or does. Saddle Creek was where the magic happened. The fact that Bright Eyes didn’t return to that label is the only sad note in this good news story.

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Maybe just as important as that Bright Eyes news is that Meth Head Steamroller — a project by the mysterious Benny Leather and mad king renaissance producer Ian Aeillo — dropped a new EP in Bandcamp. Enjoy!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Waiting for the other Bright Eyes shoe to drop; S. Raekwon gets the Document treatment (from Saddle Creek)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:43 pm January 14, 2020

S. Raekwon is the latest artist in Saddle Creek Records’ Document Series.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Been slow ’round these parts lately. Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding Bright Eyes. I’ve been told that part of what I posted last week was correct. Not the part about Fevers and Mirrors or back catalog reissue via Team Love. Go back and do the math. Now we just wait for the inevitable announcement from the winning record label and what have you. It’s going to be an interesting 2020.

It will be for Saddle Creek Records, too (but not because of Bright Eyes). Today the label announced that S. Raekwon will be the next artist to release a single as part of their Document singles series. Did you, like me, immediately think of Wu Tang? Well, it’s not that Raekwon. This one is Steven Raekwon Reynolds, who records meditative bedroom indie rock under the name S. Raekwon. “Parts Towards Whole” b/w “A Crow’s Smile” comes out Feb. 7. Check out the A-side below and pre-order here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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