#TBT: Twilight Singers from Nov. 7, 2003; more McCarthy; Beach Slang at O’Leaver’s tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:49 pm November 5, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Celebrating Throwback Thursday…

Hard to believe this was 12 years ago. Dulli is still at it. He recently announced an “intimate solo tour,” which will see him make stops in 11 different countries for a total of 32 shows beginning on February 6, 2016, in Galway, Ireland and wrapping with a two-show engagement on April 1-2 at the Preservation Hall in New Orleans.

BTW, The Afghan Whigs are currently in the studio working on a new album for Sub Pop Records, which will be released later in 2016.

#TBT: Live review: The Twilight Singers, Marianas at Sokol Underground – Nov. 7, 2003

It will go down as arguably the best live show of 2003, and even more precious for the true Dulli/Whigs fans in the crowd (and there were plenty among the 165 on hand, judging by the age and the patter, the constant ongoing arguments over which was his best album, Black Love or Gentlemen or ’65). A handful of people had been there an hour earlier to hear the soundcheck, Dulli apparently was rife with comments about buying cocaine and playing pick-up cover songs. Afterward, Dulli and his band wheeled off to Gorat’s to get themselves a few platters of steak, prepping for a gut-wrenching night (I know those big fat steaks took their toll when, halfway through his set, Dulli said, “I need a nap.”).

While they were gone, Marianas played their set. The Lincoln 5-piece that prides itself on meticulously arranged ambient songs seemed a strange match for a white-knuckle gutter bluesman like Dulli and Co. It ended up being an interesting contrast. Marianas’ music is multi-layered, with two keyboardists, a guitarist, drummer and bassist/trumpeter. If they sounded like Tristeza on their debut CD, they sounded even more so live, like a blend with The Album Leaf and The Mercury Program. There were some obvious problems with their gear that the band must not have noticed from the stage — the guitar was either out of tune or (as one person told me) had a problem with its pedal. The low-end was overpowering, either from the bass or from the keyboard/synth/drum machine, occasionally drowning out the rest of the band. While the drummer did a good job keeping in the middle of everything, I so wanted him to let go and really punish his set. Their best songs featured the bassist on trumpet, and a unique cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.” I like this band, and would love to see them open for someone like Low or Her Space Holiday.

TBT: Greg Dulli of Twilight Singers at Sokol Underground, Nov. 7, 2003.

TBT: Greg Dulli of Twilight Singers at Sokol Underground, Nov. 7, 2003.

Five minutes after their set ended, Dulli and his band walked in and within minutes The Twilight Singers lifted off.

Dulli looked like a lean, sweet, young Jake LaMotta, decked out black-on-black, his gleaming jet-black hair framing a face that is pure Italy by way of Greece, like a thin, fit John Belushi standing short beneath a microphone that was too high on purpose, forcing Dulli to squeeze upward with every note, while at the same time pulling down on his electric guitar.

There’s not much to say about the set other than it was as pure an hour and forty-five minutes as you’re going to hear from any performance. Dulli was in perfect voice; as if time had stood still since the day Gentleman was released 10 years ago. He was obviously having a good time, grinning at the crowd, at his band, at his guitar-tech who stood off to the side of the stage and poured him a plastic cup of Maker’s Mark, constantly feeding him cigarettes between songs. The whole band was tight as a tic, the drummer was especially flamboyant and acted as a perfect foil to Dulli’s wide-open front-man pose.

TBT: Greg Dulli of Twilight Singers at Sokol Underground, Nov. 7, 2003.

TBT: Greg Dulli of Twilight Singers at Sokol Underground, Nov. 7, 2003.

I’ve always liked the Afghan Whigs, and own Gentleman and Black Love, but I couldn’t tell you the name of one of his songs. I recognized a few old Whigs tunes, and the tunes off the most recent Twilight Singers CD, which blended seamlessly together, along with a barrage of covers inset within the songs themselves, covering everything from Prince to Derek and the Dominos to Skip Spence (Moby Grape) to The Zombies. Regardless, I knew the purist would be disappointed without a set list, so I swiped one from the stage after the band finished its encores. Here it is, copied letter-for-letter:

Esta Noche
Teenage Wristband
Twilite Kid
That Bird Sings
Cloud Busting
Decatur Street
Love
Annie Mae
Papillon
Dixie Peach / Ying for Yang
Martin Eden
King Only
Jail
Black is the Color/Time of The Season
The Killer/Rhiannon/Layla
________________________
Uptown
66
Faded

Throughout the set, Dulli referenced Council Bluffs at least a half-dozen times, asking the crowd to join him there for a drink after the gig. He deserved it. We all did after that set. I left thinking that Dulli has one of the most distinct and awesome voices in the history of rock, the perfect instrument that can make you cower or cry or stand up straight right alongside him, wanting to testify to love both good and bad and every which way, a dark love that Dulli has seen and wants you to see with him. — Lazy-i, Nov. 7, 2003

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Back to the present…

Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald just posted another interview with Dan McCarthy in support of tomorrow night’s album release show at O’Leaver’s. You can read it here, and if you haven’t yet, you can read my interview with Dan in The Reader, online here.

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Speaking of fabulous O’Leaver’s, there’s a great show happening there tonight. Cursive’s favorite (recent) tour mates, Beach Slang returns to the club for what should be a rowdy night of rock. Also on the bill is Philly band Lithuania featuring Dominic Angelella and Eric Slick of Dr. Dog. Brooklyn punk band Worriers, whose debut full-length was produced by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, kicks things off at 9. This one’s $7.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Interview: Dan McCarthy talks McCarthy Trenching (at The Reader); I guess you like Milk Run; Live @ O’Leaver’s gets some press love…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:59 pm November 3, 2015
McCarthy Trenching celebrates the release of the latest album this Saturday at O'Leaver's.

McCarthy Trenching celebrates the release of the latest album this Friday at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Just posted at thereader.com this morning, an interview/feature on Dan McCarthy of McCarthy Trenching. Dan talks about his new album, More Like It (Sower, 2015), which is being celebrated with an album release show this Friday, Nov. 6, at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The record is gorgeous, but what did you expect? You can read the story in the November issue of The Reader, which should be on newsstands any day now, or online right now right here.

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If readership of yesterday’s Lazy-i interview about Milk Run is any indication, the new music venue operated by Chris Aponick and Sam Parker is headed for big-time success. The blog entry was the most read item in Lazy-i this year.

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Speaking of One Percent (or at least Reverb), Looks like they’ve got a brand-spanking new website design over at onepercentproductions.com. Check it out.

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And finally, websites Stereogum and Diffuser have both published items about the Live at O’Leaver’s website.

Said Stereogum, “Back in 2012, Tim Kasher, Matt Maginn, and Ted Stevens of Nebraskan indie rockers Cursive and Chris Machmuller of Ladyfinger purchased O’Leavers Pub in Omaha. They’ve been using the space to host small DIY shows, and they had the excellent idea to start recording performances professionally and releasing them.”

Something tells me they saw my story on O’Leaver’s that went online last month…  Can’t blame them for wanting to spread the good news…

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Head of Femur; Trump (in the column); Serial Hawk tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:00 pm October 5, 2015
Head of Femur at O'Leaver's, Oct. 4, 2015.

Head of Femur at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 4, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Do they still make bands like Head of Femur?

I don’t think so. Son, Ambulance was sort of created in the same image; so was the first iteration of Eagle*Seagull. Beyond those examples there are few bands as big and sprawling and creatively ambitious as Head of Femur either back in the day or right now, seven years after the band escaped into an extended hiatus.

Last night we got the full Head of Femur experience. The band packed itself onto the “stage” space of O’Leaver’s, all eight of them lined up in two rows with the horns and strings in the back, the guitars and keys and vocals up front, led by the inimitable Matt Focht. They sounded as good — maybe even better — than I remember them back in the early 2000s.

They played a lot of their “hits” from the those fantastic early albums, songs you’d immediately recognize if you were a fan. Those dense, high-flying numbers with intricate arrangements, rhythms and lyrics, proggy and fun, celebratory in their execution. The kind of songs that makes you want to cheer after every number. There was an Eno cover in there, as well as a cover of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’s “Make Me Smile” that made me smile.

Musically, the comparatives don’t give Head of Femur the justice its due. I typed out on my iPhone during the set: “XTC meets early Joe Jackson meets Imperial Bedroom-era Elvis Costello,” which doesn’t take into account the band’s classic baroque-rock qualities. For that, a guy who’s been following them forever compared them to Mott the Hoople, whereas I’d lean more toward Procol Harum or Left Banke whereas modern fans might point toward Belle and Sebastian. None of that’s right, of course.

Let’s just say they are immensely entertaining. Focht’s voice remains as gorgeous as ever. The band was on point. The vets surrounded themselves with some new blood that represent some of the best talent in the region, but you’d expect nothing less from this band. It was special.

As Andrew Stellman highlighted in this Hear Nebraska story last week, we’ll be getting more of Femur. Focht said the new album will be coming out late this year. But is it possible to keep all that talent together for a support tour? Doubtful. But if you’re kicking yourself for missing last night’s show or last Friday night’s Lincoln Calling gig, put the boot away. Focht said the band will reunite again Dec. 23 at The Waiting Room. Make your plans now.

Also keep your eyes and ears peeled for Head of Femur’s Live at O’Leaver’s session. Sound engineer extraordinaire Ian Aeillo says the recording of last night’s show sounds awesome.

Speaking of awesome (and new records) Dan McCarthy and James Maakestad played a humdinger of an opening set last night before Femur. McCarthy mentioned on stage that he’s wrapped a new album as well. Can not wait…

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The October issue of The Reader is on news stands now. Pick it up, as it’s the very special Music Issue. More about that later. In this month’s Over the Edge column, my take on Trump and why you’re going to miss him when he’s gone (and believe me, he’ll be gone… eventually). Check it out in print or read it online right here.

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It’s a night of doom metal at O’Leaver’s tonight with Seattle sludge/doom trio Serial Hawk. Opening is Super Moon and Processions. $5, 9:30 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: John Klemmensen and the Party, Little Brazil; Hop Along in Pitchfork (7.9 rating); Lady Lamb tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm May 4, 2015
John Klemmensen and the Party at Reverb, May 1, 2015.

John Klemmensen and the Party at Reverb, May 1, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

What is the musical future of John Klemmensen? Who knows. It’s impossible to base anything on an album release party. Case in point: How many times have you seen bands pull off well-attended album release shows only to fall back to wherever they were before, never building on the momentum they’ve gained leading up to the show? It’s laughably commonplace.

On the other hand, what are these artists supposed to do next? The simple answer is hit the road. Go on a self-booked tour that gets them to as many nearby cities and towns as possible; a tour that presumably was arranged months in advance of the album release show. But that rarely happens because, well, these artists have to survive. They have to feed themselves and their family. They have to pay their rent. Which means the following Monday it’s back to whatever day-job they suffer through to pay the bills.

Booking a tour on your own is difficult. Going out on tour — especially with a band the size of The Party — is expensive. It’s a massive money-loser for everyone involved, an expensive vacation that doesn’t include good meals and hotels. Because of these reasons, local bands talk about touring, but rarely do.

And time passes. Eventually the band plays another local show, and another. And slowly, in their spare time, they begin to write more songs and, before you know it, a Kickstarter campaign pops up and they begin gearing up for the next album release show. It’s an endless cycle. The only way to break out of it is for a miracle to happen, such as someone important (such as a record label) discovering your album who is willing to do what it takes to get you to the next level — rerelease, distribution, publicity, booking agent, financial backing necessary to hit the road. It’s like winning the lottery, and it never happens.

That doesn’t stop people from dreaming. Part of that dream has happened for Klemmensen. Someone put up the money to press 500 copies of Party All Night, his new album. What that person is able to do next to get the record heard only Klemmensen knows, but to that person I say: You have made a good bet based on how the audience responded to his music Friday night — full-on sing-alongs and fist pumps. It helps that Klemmensen has been performing this music for months, but there also is that tangible quality — memorable, yell-worthy lyrics.

I think Klemmensen could break through as a pop act. His music is suited for it. It’s certainly not indie, and when it comes to making a living playing music, that’s probably a good thing these days. But it all depends on what he does next. If he never gets a chance to go on the road, if he goes back to life-as-usual, the only thing that’ll come out of Friday night’s show is a sweet memory.

Little Brazil at Reverb Lounge, May 1, 2015.

Little Brazil at Reverb Lounge, May 1, 2015.

Opener Little Brazil put on the best show they’ve played in a long time. The set was all (or almost all) new material, and it was all somewhat awesome. I’m told they’ve recorded some demoes of these songs; can a full-length can’t be far off? Well, frontman Landon Hedges has his hands full over the coming months with the release of the new album by his other band, Desaparecidos, and the ongoing support tour.

Dan McCarthy at Brad's Corner during Benson First Friday, May 1, 2015.

Dan McCarthy at Brad’s Corner during Benson First Friday, May 1, 2015.

One other act I caught Friday — Dan McCarthy doing a solo acoustic set on Brad’s Corner. McCarthy is always entertaining. If Brad Hoshaw had been ambitious he would have dragged a full-sized upright piano out to the corner. Next time. Benson First Friday is getting crazier and crazier. This time Military Ave. was blocked off for some sort of art fair craft show thing…

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When did record labels start releasing albums on Mondays? Today Saddle Creek released the new Hop Along and Twinsmith records. Isn’t Tuesday release day (which is eventually shifting to Fridays at some point)?

No matter. If you haven’t heard the new Hop Along album, titled Painted Shut, you need to. As I’ve said before, it’s the best non-Omaha-based Saddle Creek release in years. And apparently Pitchfork agrees. The indie “tastemakers” gave the album a respectable 7.9 rating in this review, where they call out Saddle Creek:

Painted Shut is being released on Saddle Creek, a label built on the kind of romantic, middle-American indie that made Hop Along possible in the first place—music more indebted to the 1970s than the 1980s, more to the earnest mythologizing of folk than the grandstanding of rock, more to the fantasias of Edward Gorey and e.e. cummings than to the flash of the city; music for rickety houses in college towns and the lonelyhearts who collect in their corners like dust and give each other stick-and-pokes. I’d say it all seems old-fashioned but it has been this way for about 25 years and seems part of a longer continuum all the time, so who knows.

Uh, 25 years?

Now, Pitchfork, where’s that Twinsmith review? Not to be outdone, punknews.org reviewed Alligator Years and gave it four stars (out of five, here), launching the review with the statement: “Omaha’s Twinsmith are the next Vampire Weekend.” Oh boy…

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Just got word that the big concert announcement I mentioned online here last week is coming Wednesday morning. Huge. Watch Lazy-i or (I guess) the local media for the announcement. It’ll  be hard to miss.

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Great Monday night show tonight: Lady Lamb, whose new album After was just released in March on Mom & Pop Music (Courtney Barnett’s new label) are playing at Slowdown Jr. with Rathborne and Jordan Smith. $12, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i