CD Review: Hear Nebraska Vol. 1 (Digital Leather, Big Harp, Thunder Power…); Replacements doc/show tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:54 pm November 30, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Hear Nebraska Vol. 1

Hear Nebraska Vol. 1

Some thoughts on Hear Nebraska Vol. 1, the first in a series of comp CDs that are being put together by the folks at (the board of which I am a member, though I had nothing to do with this album)…

The record is being celebrated with a release party Saturday night at The Syndey. This CD has a very limited run of only 150 copies. After that, it’s download-only. All cash goes to the HN coffers.

Designed to be (as HN executive Andy Norman says) “a cross-selection of Nebraska’s most exciting bands,” as a whole, it’s a pretty complete snapshot of where we are these days, though there will be those who will quibble that this band or that band was left off, there (presumably) will be room for them on Vol. 2. The breakdown:

Thunder Power, “Who Am I” — Easily the best Thunder Power song I’ve heard, and I’ve heard most of their recordings. It has an energy that I’ve always found lacking from their music, driven in part by terrific organ/keyboards, glowing guitars and an uninhibited vocal. It’s a fitting opening track and sets the bar for the rest of the comp (and for TP’s next album).

Big Harp, “Everybody Pays” — This is a different version than appears on their Saddle Creek debut. I’m not sure where it came from (perhaps from the Love Drunk video shoot?) — it pops from the speakers better than the original. I’m beginning to think live recordings are the future of the indie music industry, if only for the economy of it all.

The Betties, “Come Back to Me” — This sleepy little C&W number is my introduction to this band of western folkies whose love for Hank and Loretta are twangfully obvious.

Conduits, “Blood” — Another intrepid release from the band’s long-awaited debut (over a year now, right?), it’s one of their more upbeat numbers, a quick-step syncopation pulled together by Jenna Morrison’s languid, black-leather Euro croon that boarders on lovely drone, until the lonely siren birdsong that breaks the song in half, before the world comes crashing down again.

Dim Light, “For You” — Like a perverted stripper ballad lifted from the soundtrack of a David Lynch film, there’s something brazen and obscene in how Cooper throws down his caterwaul like a stoned Jim Morrison or Mark Lanegan. A drunken love call sang in an empty jail cell at 4 a.m.

Con Dios, “What’s Your Name?” — A new song that doesn’t appear on their officially unreleased recording, it sounds like Saddle Creek indie or Nebraska indie or whatever you want to call this style of upbeat folk music with downbeat vocals that’s so reflective of the last decade of sounds made from around here.

Domestica, “Shine” — Clocking in at less than two minutes (just like any good punk song) it’s another perfect slice of fist-pumping anthem rock that Heidi and Jon have been making for more than a decade.

The Mezcal Brothers, “Lonely Fool” — Clocking in at less than two minutes (just like any good ’50s jukebox song), this is diner rockabilly as you’ve come to expect from this band of local originals. As shiny as the bumper of a ’57 Chevy,

Digital Leather, “Sponge” — Off-kilter and off-balance, this little New Wave / No Wave synth ballad left me stumbling through early Cure (and mid-era Replacements) memories, lonely and simple and lost. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

So-So Sailors, “So Broken Hearted,” — Another song from another long-awaited release (over a year now, right?), it’ll be recognized as one of the band’s centerpiece numbers from their live set, grand and elegant in a style that’s more ’70s arena ballad than modern-day indie. Play it next time you’re headed to Jungle Land.

Kill County, “Home Blues” — Hold-me-close country ballad that sounds like John Hiatt long, long after closing time.

Wagon Blasters, “Golden Lariat” — Tractor Punk. Gary Dean Davis. Nebraska originals. Them Thornton boys. It all feels like driving too fast in a late-model El Camino on dirty county roads. Loud and reckless.

As stupid as it sounds, this comp would make the perfect Christmas gift for all those people who’ve asked you about the Nebraska music scene circa 2011. At $15, buy them in bunches. The CD release show at the Sydney Saturday features Digital Leather, The Wagon Blasters, Domestica, Dim Light and Masses and starts either at 9 or 10, depending on which listing you find. Cover is $5.

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I can tell you exactly when the screening of Color Me Obsessed: A Film About the Replacements starts tonight at Slowdown. The film rolls at 8 p.m., with director Gorman Bechard in the house.

This is not your typical rockumentary. According to, “Bechard bravely eschews including the band’s music, photos, and live footage, instead relying solely on the fans: their well-kept memories, hilarious anecdotes, and differing points of views about the foursome’s wildly varied discography and infamous antics.” Bechard will be conducting a Q&A after the film’s 123-minute runtime, after which five bands will be providing their interpretations of Replacements music: Anonymous American, Witness Tree, Travelling Mercies, Peace of Shit and Well Aimed Arrows (though I noticed today that Peace of Shit and Well Aimed Arrows are no longer listed on Slowdown’s website for this event — let’s hope it’s just an oversight).  $7, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Honey & Darling are playing at O’Leaver’s with Nelsonvillians and Wind-Up Bird. $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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Five bands to take The Replacements/Slowdown challenge…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:48 pm November 28, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Color Me Obsessed

Just realized it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted a live review on the site, which means it’s been two weeks since I’ve been to a live show. Two weeks. That’s quite a drought, and it doesn’t look like the week is starting off much better, but come Wednesday…

Wednesday night Slowdown is hosting a screening of Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements. You might remember that a couple weeks ago via Lazy-i Slowdown did an open call for bands to play Replacements covers after a Q&A with the film’s director following the screening. Five bands took the challenge: Anonymous American, Piece Of Shit, Traveling Mercies, Well Aimed Arrows and Witness Tree — that’s a pretty well-balanced blend of folk, rock and punk.

Find out more about the event and get tickets ($7, 8 p.m.) here at The Slowdown website, and while you’re there, find out about Thursday’s Gus & Call CD release show…

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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.