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.


What’s the deal with Bright Eyes? Relax, It’s Science Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:39 pm January 10, 2020

Bright Eyes new graphic added to its website and social media accounts.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday the folks behind Omaha indie band Bright Eyes changed the branding on their social media and band websites. What could it mean?

My sources tell me… actually, my sources don’t tell me anything. It could be a promotion for a 20th anniversary release of Fevers and Mirrors. Or it could be that Bright Eyes has retained the rights to its back catalog from Saddle Creek and will use its own label — in this case, Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records — to do a series of reissues, much the way Cursive did when it reissued its back catalog on its label, 15 Passenger Records.

If you sign up for the Bright Eyes mailing list from the rebranded website, you’re provided with this mailing address:

Bright Eyes
11 Church Street
New Paltz, New York 12561

That’s the address for the Team Love Records worldwide headquarters. (By the way, take a look at a Google street view of that address — New Paltz looks absolutely charming!).

Or maybe it could just mean the boys are getting the band back together. With Phoebe Bridgers releasing a new album and presumably touring throughout 2020 and Mogis and Walcott apparently wrapping up soundtracks and other projects, maybe the time is right to kick the tires on the ol’ Bright Eyes jalopy? No doubt a tour would be something special.

Anyway, we’ll find out soon enough. Probably.

There’s only one show of note this weekend: Libations, a KC band that calls itself  “a three piece mathy indie band,” headlines at fabulous O’Leavers Saturday night. Joining them are a couple new Omaha bands I’m not familiar with — Yoga with Cats and Goosehound. In the middle is the double-bass-attack madness we know as Relax, It’s Science. All four bands for just $5. 9 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section have a great, snowy weekend.

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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.


#TBT Bright Eyes on Late Late Show, Lazy-i Feb. 15, 2005…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:08 pm February 15, 2018

Conor Oberst slouches next to Craig Ferguson from the Late Late Show circa 2005.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This being Conor Oberst’s birthday (he’s 38 today, whoda thought?), and with nothing else going on, here’s a TBT item from Lazy-i from way back on Feb. 15, 2005. Back then, Bright Eyes national TV appearances were still very much a novelty, and YouTube didn’t exist to post the shows online the following day. If you wanted to watch them after-the-fact, you had to have a TiVo, which I just happened to own back in the day…

Anywhere, here’s the Lazy-i write-up the day after, written 13 years ago….

Bright Eyes on the Late Late Show…Lazy-i, Feb. 15, 2005

I TiVo’d Bright Eyes on the Late Late Show last night. What happened to Craig Kilborn? He turned into an unfunny, geeky Irish guy in a bad suit. To be honest with you, I hated Kilborn’s snarky approach and was happy to see him go. But who is this guy? What the hell? I guess he’s kind of charming with his I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing schtick. Especially when he’s talking about Bright Eyes:

“I’m a big fan of the Bright Eyes. The American kids look to me for their musical tastes, and I have to say, ‘Bright Eyes, that’s my tip for the tour.'” A lot of what Craig Ferguson says doesn’t make sense. He could be Scottish. His next comment confirmed it. He said Bright Eyes is really just Conor Oberst, and compared BE to Scottish band Aztec Camera, saying that band was basically just Roddy Frame. “There was no Aztecs or cameras or anything. So when he gets out here I’m going to ask ‘Are you Conor or Bright Eyes?'”

Before that, though, was Jane Seymour and the bastard responsible for writing that over-glorified piece of shit called Million Dollar Baby – not exactly A-list guests. If you don’t have TiVo, really, consider picking one up. Then: “Please welcome Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes!” They played “Road to Joy,” a good choice, though I’m sure it frightened a lot of people in the Heartland. Conor smashed a guitar, Nate Walcott smashed his trumpet (I’m not kidding). It was very noisy. The mix was pretty bad.

And then, lo and behold, Conor did his first sit-down interview after a performance. So are you Bright Eyes or Conor Oberst? “Mike Mogis is the other person in the band.” Was anyone hurt during the destruction? “Everyone’s fine, I think.” Are you okay for cash? “That was an extremely expensive guitar I smashed.” You rock. I love your work. I’m reading you’re the new Bob Dylan. Do you like that? “There’s worse things to be called. I don’t see it myself, personally.” Who else is an influence? (I think that’s what he asked. Ferguson mumbles a lot.) “Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Simon Joyner.”

Conor was funny with his shy-guy stutter, but he looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of that leather chair. Next up is Leno on May 3. I doubt that Oberst will be doing any chatting afterward on that one. Oberst is playing three sold-out nights at The Orpheum while he’s in L.A.– Lazy-i, Feb. 15, 2005


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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Ten Questions with Goo Goo Dolls; Bright Eyes Ludwig-mastered box set; Closeness, Navy Gangs again tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:37 pm July 20, 2016
Closeness at O'Leaver's April 30, 2016.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016. The duo plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If the first three paragraphs of the below story look familiar it’s because I lifted them from my 1999 interview with Goo Goo Dolls, which you can read online here. GGD’s Robby Takac was a very good interview way back then. He laid it all out when I asked why the band switched from being basically a pop-punk band to mainstream AOR alt rockers. The answer has something to do with selling millions of albums.

I’m told that their show Friday night at Stir Cove is getting close to selling out. Here’s Ten Questions:


Goo Goo Dolls play Friday night at Stir Cove.

Ten Questions with Goo Goo Dolls

The first time I heard the Goo Goo Dolls was way back in ’92, after staying up late on a Sunday night to watch 120 Minutes on MTV. When the video for “There You Are” came on, featuring Goo Goo vocalist John Rzeznick doing his best Paul Westerberg-style crooning over a punchy, punky power chord, I was intrigued.

It was the band’s first video, and pretty much summed up their indie punk-rock sound and style — three average Joes running around an empty Buffalo, New York, baseball stadium, smiling for the camera without a care in the world.

But six years later, Goo Goo Dolls were a different band. Riding the success of their million-selling 1995 album, A Boy Named Goo, which featured the smash ballad, “Name,” Goo Goo Dolls went on to record the most played song on radio in 1998, “Iris,” the theme from the Nick Cage/Meg Ryan chick flick, City of Angels. It netted them three Grammy nominations and a first-class ticket out of the smoky punk bars and into sold-out arenas.

With the release of their latest album, Boxes (2016, Warner Bros), the Goo Goos are trying to change course once again. Rzeznik and co-founder/bassist Robby Takac hired a stable of writers in an effort to push themselves past their comfort zone. The product is a collection of king-sized alt-rock anthems that are a perfect fit for Stir’s Cove’s outdoor concert space, where the band performs Friday night.

We threw the Ten Questions gauntlet down on the Goo Goo Dolls, and Robby Tatac breached it with the following answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Robby Takac: Todd Rundgren, A Wizard / A True Star

2. What is your least favorite song?

“The Weight,” by The Band

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

The completion of the song cycle you experience at live performances.

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

Being away from my wife and daughter.

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

Green Tea

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

Buffalo, NY

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

They’ve all been perfect …. of course.

8. How did you pay your bills back when the band was just getting started?

Worked at a flower shop, was a DJ, spent lots of time recording punk rock bands, was a barback & bartender, spent some time as a stage hand ….

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

I would like to own a Pez museum. I wouldn’t want to be a cop.

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

I was there once and it was so hot cows were exploding ….. no lie.

Goo Goo Dolls play with Collective Soul Friday, July 22, at Stir Cove, 1 Harrahs Blvd., Council Bluffs. Tickets are $43, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to facebook.com/StirCove.

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Saddle Creek is squeezing every last penny out of its back catalog with the release of a new six-record Bright Eyes box set. Remastered by legendary sound engineer Bob Ludwig, the box includes Fevers and Mirrors (2000), LIFTED or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002), I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (2005), Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (2005), Cassadaga (2007) and The People’s Key (2011).

That’s six albums on 10 LPs housed in tip-on jackets, including digital downloads of each album. The vinyl box set exclusives include colored vinyl, twelve 8×10 photo prints by Butch Hogan, and an essay by Nathaniel Krenkel. The vinyl box set is limited to 5,000 copies and includes all 10 LPs housed in a foil stamped linen-wrapped box. Price, a cool $150. You can pre-order now, release date is Sept. 16. Look for black vinyl individual copies of each remastered album available in November.

Saddle Creek is also offering a CD box of the same albums limited to 1,000 copies, also out Sept. 16. It costs a mere $60 a box.

Hey Saddle Creek, we’re still waiting for that exclusive Ladyfinger box set…

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The new Todd and Orenda Fink ambient rock project Closeness performs tonight at Pageturners Lounge. Here’s a review of their O’Leaver’s debut.  It’s definitely worth your while to see and hear them. Ridgelines opens the evening at 10 p.m. and the ‘nice price’ is absolutely free.

Also this evening, if you missed Navy Gangs last night at Milk Run, the band plays again this evening at Almost Music in the Blackstone District. Joining them are Staffers and Sean Pratt & The Sweats. This early 7 p.m. show will cost you $5. Also, Coneflower Creamery will be on site serving their home-made ice cream. Yum!

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


#TBT May 11, 2000: Saddle Creek announces two major releases (Bright Eyes, Cursive)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 12, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday we’re turning the Wayback Machine all the way back to May 11, 2000, a simpler time before 9-11, before the first iPod and before Nebraska had defined itself as an indie music Mecca. The two releases mentioned in this old Lazy-i blog entry (that also was published in the old Omaha Weekly) would impact the scene for years to come…

Lazy-i May 11, 2000: Saddle Creek Records announced two major CD releases for late spring and early June.

Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Bright Eyes’ Fevers and Mirrors, the full-length follow-up to last year’s Every Day and Every Night EP is slated to hit the streets May 29. Pre-release hype is huge and already the CD has debuted at No. 42 on the College Music Journal (CMJ) charts, says Saddle Creek’s Robb Nansel. Unlike sales charts, CMJ compiles college and non-commercial radio airplay reports, as well as other key industry indicators,

Fans of Bright Eyes singer/songwriter Conor Oberst’s moody, confessional style won’t be disappointed by what arguably is his most thought-out and well produced effort to date. Oberst has developed a rep for writing rather dreary songs that depress more than uplift. From that standpoint, Fevers and Mirrors is quite a departure, featuring some pretty heavy numbers as well as fully realized accompaniments that move things along quite nicely (look for a full review in an upcoming issue of Omaha Weekly).

Recorded over a month at Lincoln’s Dead Space Studios, the CD features a stable of Saddle Creek special guests, including Lullaby for the Working Class’s Mike and A.J. Mogis, The Faint’s Todd Baechle, and Cursive’s Matt Maginn and Clint Schnase.

Cursive, Domestica (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Cursive, Domestica (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Speaking of Cursive, Domestica, that band’s full-length follow-up to 1998’s The Storms of Early Summer, has been pressed and is ready to hit the store shelves June 19. Those who are expecting a quiet return to form from a band that has gone through a break-up and a reunion over the past year, guess again. This one is brutal.

We’re to believe that Cursive singer/songwriter Tim Kasher’s recent marriage and subsequent divorce had nothing to do with these stark rockers that make Trent Reznor’s darkest moments sound like the theme from The Newlywed Game. Song titles like “The Casualty,” “The Martyr” and “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight” paint a not-so-pretty picture of domestic despair.

Despite the mid-June street date, fans can pick up copies of the CD at Cursive’s CD-release party May 27 at Sokol Underground.

With their stable of releases ever growing, Saddle Creek just signed an exclusive distribution deal with Southern Records in the United States, Nansel said. Southern also has exclusive distribution deals with Dischord, DeSoto, Teen Beat, Simple Machines, Tree and Thick as Thieves records. “We think they’re much more representative of our style of music,” Nansel said. “We’ll still be able to consign material and sell CDs at venues.”

The exclusive deal with Southern means the distributor will get a bigger cut of the revenue, but Nansel said that would be offset by better promotions as well as placement in regional chains. — Lazy-i, May 11, 2000.

Pitchfork would place Fevers and Mirrors at number 170 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s; while Domestica is listed as No. 25 on Rolling Stone’s “40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time.” Many point to these two releases as the start of what would become a hitting streak for Saddle Creek and its artists, though The Faint’s Blank-Wave Arcade was actually released the previous November. It would be followed by Dance Macabre in 2001. And the hits just kept on coming…

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


Live Review: Neva Dinova’s last hurrah; 2014: The Year in Music (favorite albums, shows)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:11 pm December 24, 2014
Neva Dinova at The Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2014.

Neva Dinova at The Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Is there a more beloved local indie band than Neva Dinova? I have yet to meet anyone who has met Jake Bellows who didn’t want to be his friend. Well, last night hundreds of those friends were at The Slowdown to soak in all the goodness that was — and is — Neva Dinova one last time.

It was not a sell out, but it was crowded. Neva came on at around 11 — the full band with Roger Lewis on drums. The set started a bit rough, but what do you expect from a band that hasn’t played live in six years? One of the three guitars was out of tune, or at least that’s what I thought I heard from my usual “big room” vantage point off stage left. Whatever it was fixed itself by the next song, and as the set rolled on, the band sounded tighter and tighter.

Neva Dinova always was fun to watch but I don’t remember them sounding this massive back in the old days. The band takes advantage of all those guitars, creating a mountain that Bellows can stand atop either with his vocals or his white-knuckle guitar solos. For every quiet sleeper of a song there’s also a fun shuffle and a monstrous epic.  Last night’s set list did a good job of varying the different styles and dynamics.

Conor Oberst joined the band for a handful of songs.

Conor Oberst joined the band for a handful of songs.

The addition of special guests also kept the hour-plus-long set rolling. Drummer Bo Anderson took over the drum set midway through for a couple songs, returning for two more songs during the encore. The Good Life’s Ryan Fox dropped in for one song, while cellist April Faith-Slaker added texture to a couple numbers including a rich version of “Tryptophan.”

And then out of nowhere — looking like a hitch-hiker who just stepped off the road — came Conor Oberst to relive a few tracks off the Bright Eyes / Neva Dinova split, opening with Bright Eyes song “Spring Cleaning” before joining in on a couple Neva numbers.

But the evening’s highlight didn’t come until that four-song encore. The band ended the evening with heart-rending revivals of classics “Clouds” off 2008’s You May Already Be Dreaming, and “Dances Fantastic” from their 2002 self-titled debut. You couldn’t ask for anything more, except maybe another reunion of this band next Christmas. If that doesn’t happen (and it’s unlikely that it will) there was no better way to put a bow on top of this band’s career than what we heard last night.

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Now it’s time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and soak in my annual Year in Review article. Consider it my present to you. It also appears in today’s issue of The Reader and is also online right here. The tone starts off rather bleak, but it picks up later on. This also includes my annual “favorites” list of 2014 recordings and live shows. Enjoy.

2014: The Year in Music

The one word that comes to mind when looking back at the past year in music: Survival.

Or, more accurately, the question: How will musicians survive? It finally started to dawn on people about halfway through the year that Spotify is really fucking things up.

I don’t know how independent musicians are going to make money in the future. Income from album sales appears to be drying up, for everyone. It’s even hurting the major labels. When platinum-selling mega-nerd Taylor Swift said she wasn’t going to allow her music on Spotify, non-musicians started paying attention, and the issues surrounding music streaming services briefly became the fodder for network morning shows, painting a defiant Swift as a voice of reason in an era when artists have seemingly been forced to give away their wares.

A few fellow superstars followed Swift boycotting Spotify, but in the end, the streaming service kept bumbling along. Spotify truly is the poison apple in the Garden of Eden. We all know Spotify’s instant access to millions of albums is nothing less than a salt-block of evil. We know using Spotify probably contributes to killing off indie labels naive enough to release their artists’ music to the service. We’ve all heard stories about the bands that got a 27 cent Spotify royalty check in the mail.

And yet, we can’t help ourselves. We keep reaching for our smart phones, putting in our earbuds and taking a bite out of that shiny green apple. Who’s killing the music industry? We are. You and I and anyone who uses Spotify, Pandora, Songza and other music streaming services, but god help us, we can’t stop ourselves.

Spotify isn’t going away, so young bands can wave goodbye to substantial income from record sales. Musicians will have to survive off performance income and T-shirt sales. Merch. I’ve been told that’s the way it always was supposed to be, that the pre-internet years of records sales (where, in reality, only a handful of artists made big money and the labels took home the lion’s share) were an aberration. That the new music model revolves around musicians giving away their music to grow an audience that will come to their shows when they hit the road.

So says Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, a guy who already made his millions during better days. Grohl, as quoted in online music site Stereogum:

You want people to fucking listen to your music? Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They’ll go see a show. To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way. When we were young and in really noisy, crappy punk rock bands there was no career opportunity and we loved doing it and people loved fucking watching it and the delivery was completely face to face and personal. That’s what got people really excited about shit. Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it doesn’t really matter.

I wonder what “noisy, crappy punk rock bands” Grohl is referring to. Have you heard the new Foo Fighters record?

Anyway, for those musicians who never tour, making music is turning into a hobby — something to do on weekends, a reason to hang with your bro’s. If they’re any good, these hobbyist bands might play local shows where they’ll make enough money to pay off the evening’s bar tab — if they get paid at all. There are those who will still reach for bigger things, who contemplate getting “signed” or even touring, but fewer and fewer will ever make that leap regardless of how talented they are.

Why? It just costs too much money. Sure, recording music and putting it online is now within everyone’s reach, but touring, well, that’s expensive and time consuming. There is a handful of Nebraska bands talented enough to attract a national audience, but they never will because they’ll never tour. They’ll put their music online and wait for the phone to ring. Call them lazy, but the fact is despite their dreams they still need to feed themselves and their families. They need to survive.

Holy shit, that sounds bleak. And every year that I write these “year in review” articles it just gets bleaker, yet we’re all still here, listening to music.

Two good things to consider from 2014:

First, the number of music venues in Omaha continues to increase (supporting that idea that performance income is the only real musicians’ income). Classy Benson bar/music venue Reverb Lounge opened this past fall and joined an already crowded Omaha music venue population that includes The Waiting Room, The Slowdown, O’Leaver’s, Barley Street Tavern, The Sydney, 402 Collective, The Sweatshop, PS Collective, and good ol’ Sokol. In all my years I can’t remember there being more places for musicians to perform.

Secondly, while music sales continue ever downward, reaching out of the grave is old-fashioned vinyl records. It’s strange when more people are excited about the format of their music than what the format contains. Vinyl is everything, at least to serious music fans, but it’s still only a sliver of total music sales.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported LP sales surged 49 percent last year and that factories are struggling to keep pace, but in the end, vinyl sales represent only 2 percent of U.S. music sales (*sad trombone*). To the great unwashed masses feverishly downloading the latest Taylor Swift teen-wank fodder, the trend toward vinyl has gone unnoticed. They don’t even know what a record player looks like, let alone how to use one.

There is a third “good thing” to consider: The music itself. Here’s the list of my favorite albums of 2014. Notice I didn’t say “best albums”? These aren’t “the best” (whatever that means), they’re the ones I enjoyed the most, which means the new records by Beck, St. Vincent and U2 didn’t make the cut because, well, I didn’t like them.

benjiSun Kil Moon, Benji (Caldo Verde) — The best My favorite Mark Kozelek record, a collection of haunting personal elegies about living and dying (but mostly dying).

jagbagStephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador) — Continuing the smooth melodicism that Malkmus escaped to after leaving Pavement. Sublime.

spoonsoulSpoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista) — Laid-back indie rock from a veteran.

angelAngel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar) — Alt-country meets indie rock, an exquisite combination.

doomabuseThe Faint, Doom Abuse (SQE Music) — Local boys return to form. Where have you been, lads?

strandStrand of Oaks, Heal (Dead Oceans) — Raw reflections of nostalgia in the rock age.

lupinesoverThe Lupines, Over the Moon (Speed! Nebraska) — From a Nebraska garage comes the wolfen.

alvvaysAlvvays, self-titled (Polyvinyl / Transgressive) — Chiming indie pop is a salvation.

The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) — There’s nothing wrong with imitating Dylan and Dire Straits when it sounds like this.

singlesFuture Islands, Singles (4AD) — More than just fancy dance moves, fancy synth moves.

protomartyunderProtomartyr, Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art) — Proto-punk with a bitter, bitter heart.

And then there were the rock shows. It was another great year for live music. Here are my favorite rock memories of 2014:

The Front Bottoms, The Waiting Room, Jan. 12 — Their sound was reminiscent of some of my favorite humor-inflected bands of the ‘90s and ’00s — Atom and his Package, Fountains of Wayne, Too Much Joy, Mountain Goats, Dismemberment Plan, The Hold Steady, The Decemberists — bands that write smart, funny, self-referential lyrics that anyone can relate to.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, The Waiting Room, Feb. 16 — It was like a mini Pavement reunion for an over-the-top rendition of “Unfair” off Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain that featured special guest Bob Nastanovich contributing his classic yelling. The rest of the show was almost as special.

Neutral Milk Hotel, Sokol Auditorium, March 29 — Fans I spoke to never expected to see this band play again, let alone play in Omaha. And here they were, playing their best songs spot-on with every nuance from the original recording.

St. Vincent, Sokol Auditorium, April 1 — It looked and felt forced and uncomfortable, purposely rigid and thoroughly counter to the loose-and-rough spontaneity of rock. Instead, it was more of an attempt at art rock, but without the limitlessness of a Laurie Anderson.

Warpaint, The Waiting Room, April 2 — Their sound was equal parts ethereal mood music and beat-driven dance fodder, with sweet vocals by all four musicians — and when all four harmonized, well, bliss.

Deleted Scenes, Slowdown Jr., May 1 — The highlight was that closing number, “You Get to Say Whatever You Want,” when Dan Scheuerman walked into the crowd and touched foreheads with a couple innocent bystanders, performing a mortifying rock ‘n’ roll mind meld.

Morrissey, Rococo Theater, May 20 — Needless to say, there were a lot of pissed-off people walking out of The Rococo after Morrissey refused an encore. While I would have liked to hear a couple more songs, the decision to play is squarely on his shoulders, and if he wasn’t feeling it, that’s the way it goes.

Conor Oberst, Sokol Auditorium, June 4 — Fueling the energy was Dawes, a masterful four-piece that gave every song heft and soul. The band sounded so much like early Jackson Browne you would have sworn that was David Lindley playing those guitar solos and Craig Doerge tapping out the glowing keyboard fills.

The Faint, Sokol Auditorium, June 12 — From the floor, it’s all about the dancing, or more accurately, hopping since no one’s really dancing. They’re bouncing or “humping” to the electro-throb. Those in the middle of the mob became part of the collective body grooving where the Sokol’s oak floor had (apparently) been replaced with a trampoline.

Matthew Sweet / Tommy Keene, O’Leaver’s, July 30 — It was nothing less than a dream come true for Matthew Sweet fans. There he was, literally steps in front of them, surrounded by a top-notch band playing all of his “greatest hits” one after the other in fine voice. As Sweet said, it was like playing a gig in someone’s living room.

Maha Music Festival, Stinson Park, Aug. 17 —  It was a good, though rather exhausting, day thanks to humid weather and a loaded line-up that made it hard to sneak away to re-energize.

Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28 — You did not hear Samuel T. at his best. His vocals were ragged from the very start, often breaking down to choked whispers.

Sebadoh, Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28 — Barlow’s getting shaggy in his old age, with a big head of hair and a massive beard. His voice was as good as ever (when I could hear it). Loewenstein also was in fine form (especial on his personal anthem, “My Drugs”), despite suffering from a tooth ache. Ouch.

Iceage, Slowdown Jr., Oct. 27 — The performance seemed like a captured moment in time, and I felt lucky to be there. Iceage is a band burning brightly. But like all bright flames, how long will it last?

Twin Peaks, Midtown Art Supply, Nov. 25 — Twin Peaks’ music is rowdy up-beat rock that borders on garage surf, but there is a precision to it that puts it on another level.

Ritual Device / Cellophane Ceiling, The Waiting Room, Dec. 26 — Two of the most anticipated reunions ever, straight out of Nebraska’s first Golden Age of indie rock.

First published in The Reader, Dec. 23, 2014. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Have a Merry Christmas. See you Friday at The Waiting Room…

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lorde covers Bright Eyes; Kasher contributes to comp…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:56 pm November 17, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Lots of chatter on the interwebs about Lorde’s cover of Bright Eye’s “The Ladder Song” on the new Hunger Games movie soundtrack. Your enjoyment of her version will depend on your love of the original, Lorde and the films themselves, none of which have been on my radar.

That said, one would think the soundtrack could provide a massive windfall for Oberst, and may even be the beginning of something big if other artists get the wild idea of recording one of his songs. He is, after all, an impeccable songwriter, though much of his material feels too intensely personal to translate to another artist. But I suppose they said the same thing about Dylan.

Speaking of great songwriters, Tim Kasher has a track on the Old Point Light Records’ Fourward series. Fourward is a digital music project, with volumes released quarterly. Songs are recorded onto a Tascam four-track or any at-home studio. Some songs are rare B-sides, unreleased or demos, the label said. All proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins Myositis Center.

The comps’ track listings read like a list of bands that played Sokol Underground in the ’90s: Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan, Travis Dopp of Small Brown Bike, Gordon Withers of Office of Future Plans, ex-Indian Summer duo Ghost Trees and more. More info here.

Kasher’s track, “This Again” appears on Volume 3 and can be downloaded right now for free here at Brooklyn Vegan, and the entire album also is being streamed at Spotify.

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Looks like slim pickin’s for shows this week…

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Oberst on Kimmel; The Faint at TWR Dec. 28-29…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm November 12, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Remember when appearances by Bright Eyes or Conor Oberst on late night chat shows was a “big deal”? I still remember his TV debut in the form of Bright Eyes on Late Night with David Letterman way back in June 2003. That was an event. It was the first time a Saddle Creek artist — or any local artist from that era (except maybe Mannheim) — made it onto a national broadcast.

These days Conor performances on late night shows, like last night’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, are an afterthought, a “Hey, look, Conor’s on TV again” experience. But it’s still a gas. Here his is doing “Zigzagging Toward the Light,” from his latest release, Upside Down Mountain.

And here’s his network television debut from 2003. Get a load of Letterman joshing with Paul about the Lifted record album (“This is the way music used to be”). And get a load of those bangs.

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Speaking of golden era Saddle Creek bands, The Faint yesterday announced a two-night stand at The Waiting Room Sunday, Dec. 28, and Monday, Dec. 29. Opening acts have yet to be announced. The $20 tickets go on sale Friday morning at 10.

It’s going to be a big holiday season for shows, what with The Faint, Ritual Device/Cellophane Ceiling, The Good Life/Big Harp and Neva Dinova all playing in Omaha in late December.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Background on The Lazy-i Interview with Conor Oberst (in The Reader), Lincoln’s turn to give to Hear Nebraska…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:55 pm May 29, 2014
A screen capture from Conor Oberst's new video for "Zigzagging Toward the Light."

A screen capture from Conor Oberst’s new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some background on the cover story / interview with Conor Oberst in this week’s issue of The Reader

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to ask Oberst any questions. The last interview was way back in 2007 in support of Cassadaga. Oberst — or more accurately, his presss agent, Press Here — has turned down requests for interviews by small press such as The Reader ever since.

I hadn’t even bothered to ask when it came time to do media for the release of Upside Down Mountain, figuring the request would simply be rejected again. Then Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions emailed saying Oberst was indeed doing interviews for this release and in support of his June 4 show at Sokol Auditorium. I emailed Press Here and was told that Conor would do the interview, but because he was so busy, he could only do it via e-mail.

E-mail interviews are difficult — you never know how the artist will reply. The answers could literally be one or two words, as were the replies from Bill Callahan from Smog when I conducted an e-mail interview with him years ago. Plus, e-mail doesn’t provide an avenue for follow-up questions. You get what you get. It was a shame because whether face-to-face or over the phone, Oberst is among the best at doing one-on-one interviews.

A couple days went by and the questions were due. So I tapped out what was on my mind, figuring because of the personal nature of the questions, he may not respond.

Among those personal questions: Way back in 2010, I received a tip from a very reliable source that Oberst had run off and got married in New York City the prior weekend. Knowing the source, I knew it was true, but didn’t want to get him in trouble. Instead, I rattled off a letter to Saddle Creek Records, recapping what I’d been told. The reply: “Conor has a new album coming out ….” it was the classic non-denial denial. I guess I could have figured out a way to look up his marriage license in NYC, but I didn’t have the resources or, frankly, the interest. Without confirmation, reporting that Oberst got married would be no more than gossip. Why was it a secret?

This was just a few months after the Concert for Equality in Benson. Oberst had emerged as a celebrity leader and voice against U.S. anti-immigrant laws in the summer of 2010. Conor was doing interviews in support of the concert, but questions would be limited to politics, so I decided to pass even though there was one burning question I was dying to ask: What was really driving the protest? Was there a personal relationship behind his political passion? In the end, no one ever bothered to ask.

I got some of my questions answered in this Reader interview. In fact, Conor answered every questions I sent him. Read the full Q&A transcript in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here.

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Speaking of Conor, here’s his new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.” It’s pretty trippy.

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Today is Give to Lincoln Day, the sister effort to last week’s Omaha Gives! day. That means if you live in Lincoln (or even if you don’t) it’s time to donate $10 to Hear Nebraska through the Give to Lincoln website. By giving through the site, a portion of your donation will be eligible for a match via the Lincoln Community Foundation.

I outlined the reasons last week why every musician, venue, promoter and local music fan should support Hear Nebraska (right here) so I won’t tell you again (though you can always go back and reread it). Come on. Give. It’s only $10.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Bright Eyes selling Flickr; Conor in Santa Monica; new Conduits video..

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm June 12, 2013
"Can I get a goddamn crescent roll?"

“Can I get a goddamn crescent roll?”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Flickr, that old-fashioned online digital photo service that competes with Instagram, recently got bought by Yahoo!, that old-fashioned search engine that competes with Google. Apparently Flickr’s “cool” factor was a major selling point. Well, looks like Flickr is amping up that cool factor by enlisting Bright Eyes to sell its services, as all of you who were watching Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night can attest.

The song, again, was “First Day of My Life,” the same Bright Eyes song used in that Zillow ad last year. Someone at the ad agency scoured the song’s lyrics and pulled out only two lines: “Yours is the first face that I saw / Think I was blind before I met you,” sings Conor while a pug flips through its photo archive on its iPad. Needless to say, the connection between song and product isn’t quite as seamless as in that Zillow ad, but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as the check clears.

Publishing rights deals continue to be an important source of artist income along with performance fees, followed by merch sales, album sales and finally those lowly music streaming checks. Artists can earn millions not only here but overseas where their music can be attached to any ol’ product without anyone stateside knowing about it.

It’s the way of the music world these days, even if it scars a special place in some fans’ adolescent memories. The personal nature of Bright Eyes songs make them emotional crutches for an army of teens dealing with life-changing heartbreak. The fact that they’re also used to sell smartphone apps and real estate brokering services shouldn’t impact those memories at all, right?

I’m still waiting for some savvy Mad Man to use “False Advertising” from Lifted

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Speaking of Conor, Mr. Oberst has been named as the headliner at the inaugural “Newport Folk Presents Way Over Yonder” Festival Oct. 5-6 on the Santa Monica Pier. The rest of the lineup, including Neko Case and First Aid Kit, is impressive. More info here.

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Pip-squeak musical genius Sara Bertuldo (Millions of Boys, See Through Dresses) can now view her (simulated) dead body (and resurrection) over and over again as it’s the central image in the new Conduits’ video for “Misery Train,” which premiered on the Team Love website yesterday. The dreamy masterpiece was directed by Josh Foo and Conduits frontwoman Jenna Morrison. Check it out below. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen these folks on stage. But something tells me you’ll be hearing from a couple of the band’s members very very soon…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.