Third Quarter Reviews, Twitter style (in the column); goodbye Jenna; Cursive (night 2), Bazan, Criteria tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:19 pm December 12, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In this week’s column, third quarter CD reviews (a little late). I’ll be tweeting random selections throughout the day at @tim_mcmahan — what better reason to finally get a Twitter account? The entire list is in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here… Here’s a taste:

Hospital Ships, Destruction In Yr Soul (Graveface) — Death Cab meets Arcade Fire, too often tries for epic, too often falls flat.

Destruction Unit, Deep Trip (Sacred Bones)  — Just plain burn-your-face-off garage rock for the damned (damned good).

Lloyd Cole, Standards (Tapete) — Don’t call it a comeback, it’s the best thing he’s released since Music in a Foreign Language, and could be a hit if he ever tours the U.S.

Twinsmith, self titled — Blessed by the Creek, a sort of Vampire Weekend / Beach House mash-up, might be too cute for its own good.

Read all 32!

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Conduits at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

Conduits at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

Somewhere in the heart of the city there’s a going-away party being held for Jenna Morrison.

Jenna is/was the golden-voiced siren who fronted Omaha’s epic shoe-gaze odyssey called Conduits. What did Conduits sound like? From an April 2011 review of their performance on Slowdown’s big stage:

Conduits closed the night with grand aplomb — just an absolute wall of sound — thick slabs of droning feedback, subtle synth tones, and throbbing, tribal rhythms a la Slowdive, MBV and all the other shoe-gaze masters that obviously influenced their style and that we all know and love.

Conduits could have been huge. The conventional wisdom at the time was that they were the next Omaha break-out act, especially after word leaked that their debut LP would come out on Team Love Records (the label that Conor Oberst started). But time took its toll on Conduits. They spent a year playing the same songs, released their record then spent another year playing the same songs. But (I’m told) none of that had anything to do with their eventual demise…

Though there’s been no official announcement, the band has been broken up for more than a year. Everyone’s gone on to other projects, the most notable being Oquoa. Everyone, that is, but Jenna Morrison. Conduits fans have sat back waiting for her next move. Well here it is:

After going on a walk-about through the Southern Tier (documented on her Facebook page), Jenna decided to move to Los Angeles in the coming days/weeks. What she’s chasing out there, I cannot tell you. I can only wish her luck, godspeed and say thanks for the memories. And watch out LA, there’s a new kid in town…

* * *

Tonight is Night 2 of Cursive’s 3-night stand at The Waiting Room where the band is recording for a possible live album. Night one was a real doozy. And of the three shows, tonight’s might draw the largest crowd thanks to stellar openers Criteria (they’re baaack!) and David Bazan (Who we all remember from Pedro the Lion).

If the first night was any indication, this trio of shows attendance should be mandatory for any Cursive fan. The band is digging deep into the back catalog. Heck, they played a song off their Lumberjack debut 7-inch last week. You will hear songs performed that you may never hear performed live by this band again…

As of this posting, tickets were still available for $12. You may want to get yours online now to avoid disappointment. See you there.

Also tonight, Hear Nebraska is hosting a listening preview of its Vol. 2 album at The Omaha Bicycle Company in Benson.

The vinyl album is a snapshot of the best bands of 2013, with tracks from Universe Contest, Pleasure Adapter, Noah’s Ark, Millions of Boys, Tim Kasher, Skypiper, McCarthy Trenching, Conchance, Lloyd McCarter and Simon Joyner. HN is less than $700 away from its $4,000 Kickstarter, which is really just a pre-sale. A $20 pledge gets you the vinyl and the mp3. Pledge more for other fun stuff. Do it.

Not sure you’ll dig the record? Then head over to Omaha Bicycle Company tonight at 5:30 and hear for yourself. More detail about tonight’s event 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Eros and the Eschaton’s rural shoegaze; oquoa (o’ko’uh) (ex-Conduits) launches Aug. 23; La Luz, Killer Blow tonight..

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:11 pm July 23, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Eros and the Eschaton, Home Address for Civil War (Bar/None)

Eros and the Eschaton, Home Address for Civil War (Bar/None)

A head’s up on this new Eros and the Eschaton album, Home Address for Civil War. This new record sounds nothing like the last one from It’s True, the band that E&E member Adam Hawkins used to front. Now with wife Katey Perdoni (a.k.a. Sleeveless) the new record takes Hawkins’ and Perdoni’s melodies and drapes them in dense layers of Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain fuzz. We’re talking deeply atmospheric, intensely trippy grinding rock that’s not afraid of brash, creative guitar noise. The record comes out Aug. 13 on Bar/None, while the band visits Slowdown Jr. Sept. 22. You’ve been warned… and invited.

I don’t know what “Eros and the Eschaton” means, by the way. Wiki says Eschaton means “end of times,” which sounds very appropriate for their brand of rock. Actually, I’m not sure how to even pronounce Eschaton.

Pronunciations could also be a problem for oquoa. That’s the name of the new project by former Conduits members Roger Lewis and J.J. Idt, and frontman Max Holmquist (ex-Great American Desert). The band has been whispered about for months, with word leaking out that their new recording will be stellar. And now they’ve just announced their first public gig, Aug. 23 at O’Leaver’s with Electric Chamber Music.

The show’s Facebook listing says “oquoa (o’ko’uh)”. Maybe the pronunciation is actually part of the band’s name… So what’s it mean? Look it up in The Google and you’ll get back… nothing. How very mysterious.

BTW, I think it may be safe to say that Conduits has sailed into the sunset, though the band never made it official.

* * *

Sweatshop Gallery in Benson is hosting Seattle garage rockers La Luz (Burger Records, Suicide Squeeze) tonight, with local guys Adult Films and the amazing duo called Killer Blow. Great show at the “nice price” of just $5. 9 p.m. All ages!

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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.

Lazy-i

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

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Conduits head to Europe, say goodbye tonight with Universe Contest, See Through Dresses…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:35 pm October 24, 2012
Conduits circa last January...

Conduits circa last January…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Conduits are headed across the ocean for their first European tour.

The tour starts on Halloween in Linz, Austria, at Posthof (a gig which apparently features a “Belle & Sebastian DJ set”). From there it’s three weeks of dates in Austria, Switzerland, and France, closing out with a night in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Nov. 22.

But before they climb aboard a silver dart to far off lands, Conduits have a date with you tonight at Slowdown Jr. Opening the show is red hot Lincoln band Universe Contest and See Through Dresses. Who the hell is See Through Dresses? Well, according to their Facebook page, the band consists of Sara Bertuldo (Millions of Boys, Conduits), Matt Carroll, Nate Van Fleet and Robert Little. They list Kate Bush as the band’s influence. Who doesn’t like Kate Bush?

Get there early. 9 p.m., $8.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Who is Mummy Train? The worst lists list; Brad Hoshaw tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:39 pm August 28, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

While clicking around the ol’ Facebook — and after receiving a message from a reader — I discovered the Facebook fanpage for a new band called Mummy Train. Just who is in this new band? Well, according to their Facebook page, Mummy Train consists of members of Conduits — specifically Jenna Morrison, Patrick Newbery and Mike Overfield. They describe themselves as an “experimental music project” whose influences include Bjork, The Knife, Cat Power, St. Vincent, Fever Ray, Yeasayer and Beck. Sounds intriguing. Mummy Train will make its (second) stage debut next Thursday, Sept. 6, at House of Loom following a Women in Music panel discussion. More info on that event here.

* * *

Last week LA Weekly posted a list of its “20 Worst Hipster Bands” that spread across the Social Media griddle like wildfire, igniting hipster tempers with every viral post. In what likely is a reaction to that article, Prefix Magazine has posted its list of the Five Worst Music Lists.

Coming in at No. 5: Prefix’s own Top 10 Lyrics on Bright Eyes’ Lifted… So is that supposed to be a shot at themselves or at Bright Eyes? The LA Weekly‘s Worst Hipster list came in at No. 3 (by the way, how did the Weekly‘s list of “Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time” (LCD Soundsystem, Raconteurs, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective and Sex Pistols) not make this list?).

The No. 1 worst list honor went to Rolling Stones magazine’s list of “Women Who Rock.” Sexist? Well, here’s how Prefix‘s Sasha Geffen put it, “Women make very few appearances in the publication’s many hyperbolic lists, which, while purporting to be gender-neutral, insist that the best of most music was made by men. So women get their own list, which is the journalistic equivalent of saying, ‘Yeah, she’s a pretty good musician–for a woman.'” Check out the rest of the Prefix list here.

* * *

Brad Hoshaw plays a solo set tonight at The Barley Street Tavern, opening for Philadelphia singer/songwriter boog and Matt Cox Band. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

House of Loom thanks; early impressions of Conduits on the road; Howler, Yellow Ostrich tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:03 pm April 2, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Thanks to all who came out for my “non-DJ” DJ night at House of Loom on Friday. As expected, there was virtually no one there at 5 p.m. when it began, but things livened up as the evening rolled on, and a total of about 20 people eventually showed up. It was actually quite rowdy at around 7 p.m., and I ended up “spinning” for an extra 45 minutes beyond the 8 p.m. cutoff.

It was a trip meeting a couple people who read the column and website regularly and wanted to “see what I looked like.” I hope I didn’t disappoint them too much. It also was nice seeing a number of music-scene collegues who dropped by for a few drinks and a few songs.

If you haven’t been to House of Loom, you really need to give it a try if only for the ambience. I can’t think of a better place to grab a drink right after work, and for those into the DJ/ dance culture, House of Loom is among Omaha’s best dance clubs. Check it out. Thanks again to Loom, Brent and Ethan for being such gracious hosts.

* * *

Speaking of checking things out, as Cursive continues its ongoing national tour, they’re (currently) bringing Conduits along for the ride. And as interesting as it is to read how people dig Kasher and Co’s live rendition of I Am Gemini, we’re starting to see the first reactions to Conduits from a “foreign market.”

Among them, this piece from the Carnegie Mellon student newspaper The Tartan:

Conduits, an indie rock sextet based out of Omaha, Neb., was the first opening band. Despite releasing their debut album on March 20, they performed a cohesive set that mixed the straightforward arrangements of pop rock with the sonic textures of shoegaze and psychedelic rock. The crowd was small for Conduits’ set, but it was clear that the pulsating bass lines and beautiful guitar ­— imagine rippling water as a sound instead of a vision — captivated these dedicated fans completely.”

The review concluded with: “While a majority of the audience had come for Cursive, it was difficult not to leave as a fan of all three groups.” Read the whole thing here.

Then there’s this from the University of Buffalo student newspaper The Spectrum:

“Opening for Cursive was five-piece outfit Conduits, from Cursive’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., and the bands even shared member Patrick Newbery, who played synth and keys for both bands. Conduits immediately asserted their place in Mohawk’s tightly packed venue, with the audience crowding in front of them, as if they were headlining.

“Conduits’ music consisted of a mix of slow rock combined with rhythmically dynamic maracas and tom-toms rising to importance during their set, juxtaposing the lead into the flowing synthesized music.”

So far, so good. It’ll be interesting to read what the New York media says when Cursive and Conduits play back-to-back sold-out shows at The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow and Wednesday.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Barsuk band Yellow Ostrich with Rough Trade artist Howler. $10, 9 p.m. Both bands are rising to that middle-echelon of touring indie bands. Check out a couple of their tracks below:

Yellow Ostrich, “Marathon Runner”

 

Howler, “Back to the Grave”

 

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Future Tense: 2012 Music Predictions, Pt. 2 – The Lightning Round; Conduits sign to Team Love; Stolen Kisses tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:33 pm January 12, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

futureAnd now, the conclusion of my annual music predictions columns, where I gaze into the glossy black finish of a Fender Squier and see visions of what will occur in the coming days / months / years. Hang onto your hats, because it’s time for the Lightning Round!

— With all this new technology that (presumably) puts every bit of music ever released at our fingertips, a new appreciation for curated radio will emerge. And by that, I don’t mean radio programmed by a closet full of brain-dead suits somewhere in balmy El Lay, but rather a low-watt or web-based alternative station whose content is developed by a guy or gal who could be standing next to you in line at Baker’s. Look for not one, but two stabs at creating a low-power FM community radio station in Omaha next year, the result of S.592, a.k.a. the Local Community Radio Act. And remember, it’s only as good as you make it.

– Benson’s rebirth as Omaha’s music/tattoo/booze/vice hub hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of our little burg. A Hollywood film crew will set up shop in ’12 to document the creation of our little street of dreams as a weekly “reality” TV show featuring a gaggle of lovable characters. The Real Housewives of Benson? Benson Venue Wars?Benson Park Hillbilly Hand Fishing? Make sure the camera gets your good side.

— Speaking of film making, the fine work of one of our many local videographers will catch the attention of a large-ish national record label who will either fly one of their rock stars to Omaha or fly an Omaha video crew to the rock star to create a music video that will air on MTV and/or go “viral” on the interwebs.

— Last year saw Homer’s worldwide chain of stores get whittled down to just one measly location in the Old Market. This year will mark a rebirth of sorts for Omaha’s favorite independent music retailer when it alters direction to broaden its customer base. Translated: Homer’s will become much more than just a music store.

– As we mourn the death of The Anchor Inn interest in outdoor concerts continues to grow (even as club attendance at rock shows continues to dwindle). Local promoters will reach out to a few new park-like compounds to host large concerts like MAHA and Playing with Fire in places you’d never imagine. And yes, Memorial Park and a certain Sarpy County ballpark will be in the mix.

— Speaking of outdoor festivals, did that burning sea of empty pavement that greeted Red Sky’s unattended day programming and a half-empty (or more) Ameritrade Ballpark teach MECA anything? This year at least one big name indie-style rock act – someone you’ll actually be excited to see — will get booked for Red Sky and make you rethink the whole debacle… until you see the rest of the festival’s line-up. Another poor year of ticket sales will force MECA to rethink Red Sky’s future (just like the organizers of Kanrocksas are doing right now).

– Early planning by the fine folks at the MAHA Music Festival, on the other hand, will pay off big time this year as they land one of their all-time dream bands (But will they be able to sell enough tickets and find enough sponsors to pay the enormous guarantee? Yes). This will be MAHA’s the last year at Stinson Park, as the concert turns into a real-life “festival” in 2013.

— Artists we’ll be talking about this time next year: MGMT, M.I.A., Conduits, The xx, Lana Del Rey, Bloc Party, Black Sabbath, Frightened Rabbit, Sleigh Bells, Garbage, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Paul Westerberg, The Mynabirds, Van Halen, The Arcade Fire, Husker Du, Digital Leather, Tilly and the Wall, Best Coast, Ritual Device and Beck.

— Artists we won’t be talking about this time next year: Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, Metallica, Bright Eyes, Kanye, Black Keys, Black Lips, Ryan Adams, Bon Iver, M83, Vampire Weekend, RHCP, Madonna, The Bieber and The Gaga.

— This year all of Eddie Van Halen’s problems will be resolved once and for all.

— Despite the many music- and culture-focused websites that have popped up over the past couple years, a new locally produced, slick print publication will emerge in 2012 with a special emphasis on music, art and fashion. And don’t bother looking for it online.

— As an experiment, Matador, Sub Pop or our very own Saddle Creek will release an entire formal full-length album by one of their top acts as a free download (You’ll still have to pay for the vinyl, and there will be no CD). Its success will breath new life into an already-established (though waning) act who will see its biggest crowds ever on tour, generating merch and back-catalog sales for the label and causing the music industry to rethink (again) how it does business.

— The next local act to break through on a national level won’t come from the indie ranks, but from Omaha’s under-appreciated hip-hop scene. As a result, look for a new hip-hop / urban-focused club to launch somewhere in midtown or downtown in 2012.

— Bright Eyes never made it onto SNL, but nothing will stop Cursive from stepping onto that famous 30 Rock stage.

And finally, one of the city’s longest-running local music columns will call it a day in 2012, in print (though it will continue to live on (forever?) on the Internet). Now who could I possibly be talking about?

* * *

Moving on…

Conduits, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Conduits, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Yesterday’s red-hot news was that everyone’s favorite local shoe-gazers, Conduits, announced that they’ve signed with Team Love Records, who will release their self-titled debut album March 20. Pre-orders are being taken now at the Team Love online shop ($12/CD; $16/vinyl), which will get it into your earbuds two weeks before the street date. In addition, the band hits the road with Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars in March for a couple months.

It’s a nice return to form for Team Love, who also recently announced that it is releasing Simone Felice’s self-titled solo debut April 3, recorded with members of Mumford & Sons and his fellow Felice Brothers. So does this mean that Team Love also will soon announce the release of the highly anticipate Tilly and the Wall album? And what about Icky Blossoms, Derek Pressnall’s reinvention of Flowers Forever, a band that released its debut on Team Love in 2008? Will Team Love release an Icky Blossoms full-length in the near or distant future? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, let’s bask in the Conduits’ news. For most of us, the music on this debut will seem almost rustic, having been played at local clubs for more than a year. In fact, the recording itself was created nearly a year ago. Will Conduits be able to keep up the intensity on songs they’ve been playing since 2010, and how will they ease any new music into the set list? We’ll see when they hit the road in March.

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s a free rock show featuring the reunion of Stolen Kisses, the surf-pop garage band that features members of Talking Mountain and Omaha expat Chris Kramer, who is back in town from Chicago on vacation. Tonight they’ll be performing as a five-piece and unveiling some new songs, and possibly a few chestnuts. Opening the show is Lincoln’s Powerful Science, headed by Joshua Miller of Columbia vs Challenger, and fellow Lincolnites Well-Dressed Man Disguise, which Kramer described as “psychedelic punk rock. Probably like early XTC.” Sweet. Like I said, it’s free, and the show starts at 9 p.m.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2011

Lazy-i Best of 2011

Well, folks, we’re getting down to the wire. If you want to enter the drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD you better do it now. This year’s disc includes tracks from tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Icky Blossoms, Decemberists, Gus & Call, Lana Del Rey, It’s True, Eleanor Friedberger and a bunch more (check out the track list at the bottom of this blog entry). To enter, just send an e-mail (to tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address. It really is that easy. Hurry! Deadline is Jan. 17!

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Dundee Spring Fling; Foo Fighters, Motorhead tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:55 pm May 23, 2011
Conduits at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

Conduits at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ah, the joys of being an amateur meteorologist. The various and sundry weather services had warned all day that there would be thunderstorms Saturday evening, and lo and behold, the skies became angry just as the Dundee Spring Fling was about to erupt just past the rapture hour of 6 p.m. A glance at the radar indicated a line of hail-laden thunderstorms bearing north from Lincoln, so I sat tight and waited out Armageddon at home. I’m told the sky began falling about halfway through Gus & Call’s set. People ran for cover under the beer tents as pea-sized hail began to bounce off their heads.

The So-So Sailors at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

The So-So Sailors at Dundee Spring Fling, May 21, 2011.

I arrived at Underwood Street at around 9 p.m., after the storm had passed… mostly. As So-So Sailors got ready on stage, streaks of lightning veined across the sky just to the north. SSS’s frontman Chris Machmuller looked a tad nervous, but said that the show would go on, and indeed it did. Unlike Jake’s Block Party last weekend, the sound system was unreal, just terrific sound, and SSS took full advantage of it, playing to a crowd of a few hundred booze-soaked neighbors. The band — which was back to its usual 5-piece configuration (only two keyboards this time, and no Laura Burhann) ran through their non-released hits one after another in sort of medley fashion, right up to the last tune, where Machmuller said something like, “If this is the Rapture, take me home Jesus” before the band exploded in rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

Before Conduits came on, Gus & Call was called back on stage to finish off their interrupted set. Dan McCarthy sang lead on one song that channeled The Band circa 1968/Big Pink. They closed with what’s becoming their signature tune, “The Other Side of Jordan,” played with the same energy as that night I first saw them play it at Slowdown. This is a band to seek out; a band that could break out if they could ever find the right balance between their fun rock stuff and their slow-stroll boot-gaze drone ballads.

Finally at around 10:45, Conduits lit up the stage sounding like a black-light Euro dance band, thanks to Roger Lewis’ pulsing drums. Yes, they are self-proclaimed shoe-gazers, lovers of the drone, but there was a bigger swing to their sound Saturday night, a righteous throb that enhanced the overall glow.

The crowd looked like a typical packed night at The Waiting Room — a lot of familiar faces and fixtures of the local music scene. But in addition were the college kids, the big white bald guys, the backward hatters and the out-of-place high heels, the kind of crowd that you’d expect to see at a small-town street dance. And though these weren’t the usual cover bands and shallow pop acts that usually play at Dundee Days, the crowd still seemed into it. In some ways, this show was a dream come true — a showcase of some of Omaha’s best indie bands performing in the heart of the city, outside of both the bands’ comfort zone (i.e., not in Benson) and the crowd’s. Here’s hoping the fine folks at Amsterdam Felafel get another chance to book this event next year.

* * *

Tonight at The Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs it’s the Foo Fighters with Motorhead and Biffy Clyro. General admission tickets are $58.75 from Ticketmaster. Show starts at 7.

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: The Good Life, Conduits and Osama…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 6:46 pm May 2, 2011
The Good Life at The Slowdown, May 1, 2011.

The Good Life at The Slowdown, May 1, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I have to mention this…

I didn’t hear the news until after I got to Slowdown last night, and not on the radio, as I was tuned into the new tUnE-yArDs CD (which, ironically, is titled whokill). While waiting in line to buy my ticket, the leader of one of the city’s better rock bands (who wasn’t on the evening’s bill) came up to me rather gleefully saying, “Did you hear? They got Osama bin Laden.” I glanced over at three guys standing on the sidewalk smoking who were overhearing all of this, grinned and said, “OK, I’m with you. And?” expecting a punch line. “No really, the president is going on later tonight with an official announcement.” I just kept smiling. The musician shook his head and said, “Look at your iPhone. It’s true.”

I knew I wasn’t being punk’d. A few hours earlier, someone had posted on Facebook (specifically @jeremy.lipschultz) that an out-of-the-ordinary late-night announcement was coming from the White House at 9:30 CT, but it hadn’t happened by the time I’d left home. When I walked into the cavernous darkness of The Slowdown, I noticed more people than usual (which means everyone) with faces aglow from gawking at their smart phones. They stared intently, saying nary a word. And the only acknowledgment from the stage came from Tim Kasher, who said something like “Some of you might think it’s a big deal. You all know what I’m talking about since we all have computers in our pockets.” A handful clapped. Not a lot. During the break between sets outside on the patio, someone who has spent half her life under the shadow of Osama said. “I guess it is a big deal, right?” I told her the best thing about it was that it might help decide the 2012 election. We both nodded and changed the subject. The night was supposed to be about music, not the capture of the modern-day real-world equivalent of the head of HYDRA or SPECTRE. I’m happy they got the guy, and I’ll leave the rest of the commentary to the political blogs…

Conduits at The Slowdown, May 1, 2011.

Conduits at The Slowdown, May 1, 2011.

Back to the subject at hand… A few hundred showed up at last night’s Omaha Girls Rock! benefit at Slowdown — a nice crowd. I got there in time to catch Conduits, who has become a finely honed drone machine effortlessly firing on all six fuzzy cylinders. When they’re dead-on, like last night, their music is like that moment in a great wide-screen movie when the flyover-plane — barely strafing the desert — comes to the edge of the cliff and the shot opens to a miles-wide canyon below. Huge, majestic, breath-taking. Conduits were made to perform on a large scale, on large stages like Slowdown and The Waiting Room (and MAHA’s main stage?). I don’t know if I’d get that same feeling if they were playing at, say, O’Leaver’s or Barley Street, but I’d like to find out.

Seeing The Good Life again was like running into old friends at the bar that you haven’t seen in way too long, catching up on gossip, reliving old war stories, remembering everything you liked about them and wondering why you haven’t spent time with them lately. During a free-spirited set that lasted over an hour and included special guests Chris Machmuller on alto saxophone (on two songs) and Craig Korth adding harmonies to a cover (“Oh Yoko”), the band seemed to barely scratch the surface of their fantastic catalog. A grinning Kasher told the crowd how much fun they were having on stage and thanked them for sharing it with them, especially since they “only play about once a year” anymore, which is an absolute shame.

By all indications, the fund raiser was a big success. Now it’s time for the folks at Omaha Girls Rock! to roll up their sleeves and get to work. You can find out more about the organization right here.

A side note: The long-awaited four-song split with Conduits, Icky Blossoms, InDreama and Touch People has finally arrived and was on sale at the merch table last night, which means if you preordered a copy, it should be on its way.

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Tomorrow: A live review of Saturday’s Digital Leather show, some Red Sky comments and info about a show at The Barley Street that you crazy shoegazers won’t want to miss…

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Conduits, Icky Blossoms, InDreama, Touch People; Nik Freitas tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm April 18, 2011
Conduits at The Slowdown, April 15, 2011.

Conduits at The Slowdown, April 15, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

When it comes to the four-band record release show at Slowdown Friday night, instead of dwelling on the one unfortunate negative, let’s instead dwell on the positives. Positives like the big crowd (+200?), the impeccable sound quality and, most of all, the performances.

Touch People at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Touch People at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Touch People started off the evening at the stroke of 9, playing to an empty floor in Slowdown’s big room. On stage, a costumed Darren Keen played a small stack of technology veiled two ways — one, behind a curtain that hid him from view, and two, behind a mask and hood, though everyone knew that only one person in the Nebraska music scene bears his stature. Just as unmistakable is Keen’s sound. Even though this project stands at a distance from his main gig — The Show Is the Rainbow — there were distinctive Keen-isms that dotted a sonic landscape littered with enormously loud bass lines, jittering break beats and trippy synth tones. Touch People is the most experimental of Keen’s projects, and as a result, the most challenging to the listener. The music isn’t so much an attempt to get people dancing as to get them to step into whatever dimension Keen is occupying over the course of the 40-minute set. The music was as entrancing as it was disjointed and, at times, disturbing, which I have believe is just the way Keen wanted it.

InDreama at Slowdown, 4/15/11.

InDreama at Slowdown, 4/15/11.

It only got trippier with InDreama, In this, their third live performance and perhaps their most ambitious, frontman Nik Fackler and company navigated through a mine field of technical problems to take yet another step forward in crafting their sound and vision. And what a weird vision it’s turning out to be. Fackler is at his best when he’s crafting songs with specific melodies and ideas, such as the track from the single, “Reprogram,” (which he opened with) and the set’s closing two numbers. In between were shades of Jim Morrison and Jim Carroll. Fackler has said that his goal is to create a new persona on stage. At this point, that persona is still only half realized, though no less entertaining.

Icky Blossoms at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Icky Blossoms at Slowdown 4/15/11.

By the time Icky Blossoms hit the stage at around 11, the crowd had arrived. The floor in front was mostly filled and jumping. Of all of Derek Pressnall’s projects including Tilly and the Wall, this one is the most satisfying and the one with the most promise. I got the feeling that there was nothing stopping the band from hitting the road tomorrow and getting any out-of-town crowd to become fans. Yes, the music is that good — a modern take on straight-up dance rock with an ’80s flair. Of the four bands, Icky Blossoms is easily the most commercially embraceable of the bunch. They’re also the most fun.

Conduits closed the night with grand aplomb — just an absolute wall of sound — thick slabs of droning feedback, subtle synth tones, and throbbing, tribal rhythms a la Slowdive, MBV and all the other shoe-gaze masters that obviously influenced their style and that we all know and love. The beauty of Conduits is its sonic dynamics. The Achilles heel may be its lack of rhythmic variety — one mid-tempo song after another. Frontwoman Jenna Morrison couldn’t be more statuesque in beauty and style. She has amazing tone that cuts through the dense layers of sound. But somewhere in the morass she’s become merely another instrument. I could not understand a word she was singing (how much is the soundman’s fault, I do not know). It’s an advantage Icky Bossoms had over all four bands — you could understand just about every word Pressnall was singing, and that made his songs that much more interesting (and easy to sing along to). With Conduits, all you get is beautiful, beautiful drone. When you think of a band like Low, you can hear every heart-breaking word that comes out of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s mouths. Those words are what help make their music that much more memorable. I know there are words underneath Conduits’ music as well, I just need to find out what they are.

And now that one negative I mentioned earlier — one thing was missing that is crucial to the success of any record release show — the records themselves. I don’t know if there was some sort of production problem that kept the delivery from happening, but there was no product on hand to sell. Instead, the band was selling “pre-orders” of the single, with a promise that a member of the band would hand deliver the record when it arrived (you also received a free download). How many people took them up on the offer, I do not know. I do know that they had 200 or so people on hand that wanted to buy a copy and who went home empty handed, myself included. Maybe they should have another record release show, but this time in Lincoln (and with records to sell).

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Things are running a bit long here today. I can’t expect y’all to sit through 3,000 words of copy. So come back tomorrow for my take on Record Store Day and my first “DJ” gig, as well as a look at last night’s Decemberists’ show, which was “all that” and more.

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Nik Freitas is kind of a big thing around these parts. But despite that, he’s the opening act tonight at The Waiting Room for a band that I’ve never heard of — The Submarines. The $12 show starts at 9, so you better get there early.

Also tonight, Dim Light plays with Slow Skate at O’Leaver’s. $5, 9:30 p.m. And Pharmacy Spirits makes a trip from Lincoln to play at Slowdown Jr. tonight with Cat Island, Dangerous Ponies and Shipbuilding Co. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i