Live Review: Destroyer, Mega Bog at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:38 pm February 5, 2018

Destroyer at The Waiting Room, Feb. 3, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Trumpeter JP Carter stole the show at Saturday night’s Destroyer concert at The Waiting Room. Oh sure, Dan Bejar was in great voice doing his usual vampy singing, but it was Carter and his glowing midnight trumpet that powered the arrangements and left people swooning.

Bejar spent the night looking dour, leaning on his mic stand at half mast or kneeling while his marvelous six-piece band (two guitars, keys, bass, drums and that trumpet) crushed each song as tight as any band you’ll ever see on the Waiting Room’s stage (or anywhere).

Bejar was spot on vocally, but looked tired and 10 years older than me rather than seven years younger, which he is. No one says a performer has to look happy up there, most of the ultra-serious ones rarely do, but Bejar looked half-awake or stoned, occasionally grabbing a tambourine and tapping along with his back to the half-full crowd (150?).

The set list included a lot of songs off their latest as well as Kaputt and ended with a two-song encore capped with a strong version of “Dream Lover” from Poison Years.

Two days after the show, it’s Carter’s dreamy trumpet that still echoes in my mind, pouring out like sonic lacquer, making every song shimmer. I’d pay just to hear that band led by Carter.

Mega Bog at The Waiting Room, Feb. 3, 2018.

Mega Bog already had started when I arrived a little after 9. Sweet Erin Birgy and a trio of musicians swayed to a jazzy set of pop songs that reminded me of latter-day Joni Mitchell. Birgy’s voice was quiet and quick and matter-of-fact, as if carrying on a private conversation with an invisible friend over coffee.

Unlike Bejar, she looked like she was having a good time, telling the crowd to listen closely to Bejar’s song lyrics, and hers as well, though I struggled to make out what she was singing with her low-key, lovely and quiet voice.

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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.

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Ten Questions with Destroyer (at The Waiting Room Saturday)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:40 pm February 1, 2018

Destroyer plays at The Waiting Room this Saturday.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sometimes I wish I had an eleventh question. If I did, I’d ask Dan Bejar why he called his project Destroyer when there’s nothing destructive about it.

Destroyer songs, like the ones heard on the band’s latest album, Ken (Dead Oceans, 2017), swing and sway and feel like riding a bike with no hands. In fact, Destroyer has more in common with sweater-wearing acts like Belle & Sebastian than a faux-metal monster like KISS.

Bejar, a Vancouver-born Canuck and part-time member of The New Pornographers, formed Destroyer in 1995. And while he’s had a number of breakthrough records, the one that first stood out (for me, anyway) was 2011’s Kaputt (Merge/Dead Oceans), a dazzling collection of infectious indie pop songs. Ken carries on in the same way, at times dreamy and introspective, at other times dancey and introspective.

I caught up with Bejar and asked him to take my Ten Questions survey. Take it away, Mr. Destroyer:

1. What is your favorite album?

Dan Bejar: Strangeways Here We Come, Hejira, There’s A Riot Goin On, Veedon Fleece, stuff like that…

2. What is your least favorite song?

There’s so many terrible ones it makes me think I’m maybe just not that into songs.

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

The nights when the stage sound is killer.

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

There are people at home that I miss very much.

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

Peace of mind.

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

Bologna.  Outside.  For free.

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

I have played a couple fairly gnarly college shows.  Won’t name names in case I decide to enroll.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Yes.  It took five years.  And then another five years of mostly hovering just beneath the poverty line.  It also helped to write songs for the New Pornographers in those lean Destroyer years.

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

Acting coach.  Actor.

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

Debauched… And possibly frozen.

Destroyer plays with Mega Bog Saturday, Feb. 3, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m.; tickets are $20. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

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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.

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Column 312: The Quarterly Report; Bright Eyes charts at No. 40; Benningtons tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 8:15 am March 3, 2011

Column 312: Quarterly Report

CD reviews for the first quarter 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

And so ends the first quarter of ’11. If there’s an early, detectable trend in the world of indie music, it’s a subtle move away from “static-y, vibe bands” (as one local genius put it) like Animal Collective and Sleigh Bells to more-classic songwriting. Music auteurs will confuse this shift with retro or rehash, and in some cases they’re dead right, but the healing has to start somewhere.

Poor But SexyLet’s Move In Together (self-released) — Self-proclaimed re-inventors of “Yacht Rock” (their first misstep), this combo of D.C. post-punk veterans (including members of Dismemberment Plan) do their darnedest to translate Steely Dan to these Modern Times, but wind up sounding more like Pablo Cruise or Leo Sayer or Gino Vannelli, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re into that sort of white-guy disco funk (attention, Satchel Grande fans). It has its moments, like the roller skate handclap groover “You’re Hotter than a Poptart,” which sums up the lyrical deftness of the entire collection. Imagine what they could have done with a horn section.

DestroyerKaputt (Merge) — The band hasn’t remade its sound (you heard this coming on Trouble in Dreams) as much as given into its influences. “Savage Night at the Opera” is the best clear-cut homage to New Order you’ll ever find, right down to the “Bizarre Love Triangle” guitar cues. Other, more disco-y moments will make you think you picked up a Pet Shop Boys album, while the dreamy stuff is pure Roxy Music. The differentiator is the gorgeous trumpet and saxophone that slides in and out at the best moments, like the title track, where frontman Dan Bejar croons “Wasting your days, chasing some girls all right / Chasing cocaine to the back rooms of the world all night” over a warm, twilight LA summer disco melody he calls his “song for America” (circa 1988).

MENTalk About Body (IAMSOUND) — Fronted by Le Tigre’s SD Samson and Johanna Fateman, this thump-thump-thump electronic dance collection with a feminist edge would have benefited from a tad more (or a lot more) variety, but who’s looking for variety on the dance floor (other than Peaches, who did this better with I Feel Cream)?

Chikita Violenta, Tre3s (Arts & Crafts)

Chikita Violenta, Tre3s (Arts & Crafts)

Chikita ViolentaTre3s (Arts & Crafts) — From Mexico City by way of Canada’s Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!) you won’t find a hint of south-of-the-border flavor. Instead, they sound like another member of the Arts & Crafts clan, hashed out and shimmering, complete with strutting vocalists that Feist and Stars’ Torquil Campbell ain’t got nothing on. Hot center track “ATPG” feels like revved up Yo La Tengo, while opener “Roni” is revved up Jesus and Mary Chain. Kick those influences to the curb and you have something that could be glorious.

The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead (Rough Trade) — They can no longer be marginalized as just another twangy indie band, now that they’ve broken through with a collection that defines modern-day, above-ground Americana. The rural stomp-rock of “Down By the Water,” with its soaring harmonica and squeeze-box solo, is better than anything John Mellencamp has produced since Pink Houses; while the fiddles, banjo and honky-tonk piano on “All Arise!” could get any boots scootin’ at your local 2-step parlor. They’d be radio stars if radio hadn’t died a decade ago. I’ll take them over Mumford and Sons any day (but that’s not saying much).

Yuck, self-titled (Fat Possum) — That the album opens with a song that could be mistaken for classic Dinosaur Jr. is no mistake at all, as these British lads are channeling the best of the ’80s/’90s college rock scene almost note for note. Is that Pavement I hear? Yes, son, it is. How about Teenage Fanclub? Right you are. Is it a sin to emulate your heroes? Take a listen and decide for yourself.

RadioheadThe King of Limbs (XL) — As Thom Yorke’s music became more and more dehumanized and faux-modern (opening tracks “Bloom” and “Morning Mr. Magpie” are prime examples), I assumed this would be just another soulless escape into sterile, forced beats and drone-tones. But Yorke pulls it off with his brilliant voice, which he layers upon the layers upon the layers, and thankfully leaves clean without electronic effects (for the most part). When he tries to make it swing (“Little by Little,” “Lotus Flower”) I wonder if he simply forgot how to rock. He still struggles to find melodies; or maybe he just isn’t looking for them any more. He comes closest when he slows it down at the end. Tracks “Codex” and “Give Up the Ghost” are the closest thing to what we loved about OK Computer (and redeem the entire collection). It’s not as good as that landmark album, but nothing he produces from now on ever will be.

Toro Y MoiUnderneath the Pine (Carpark) — They’re calling one-man band Chaz Bundick’s style “chillwave,” which I guess means that it’s music to chill to, and I can see that. Both synth-y and beat-heavy, the shimmer is dreamy, the vocals breathy and echoing, the melodies intentionally loungy (a la Stereolab); it’s all very pretty and easy to listen to, and even easier to ignore.

The DirtbombsParty Store (In the Red) — Don’t know anything about the Detroit techno scene that this album supposedly honors? Doesn’t matter. I didn’t, either, and I still don’t. Take the record for what it is — a dirty, filthy, garage-punk dance album that recreates the beats and action of electronic acid house with guitars, bass, drums and Mick Collins’ brazen yowl. As for the 21:22 rehash of “Bug in the Bassbin” that stops the album dead in its tracks at the halfway point, well, that’s what the delete key is for (but only after you’ve endured it a couple times). Coolest album so far this year.

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Homer’s head honcho Mike Fratt reports that Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key came in at No. 40 on the Billboard charts last week with sales of 11,314. Normally that would have landed Conor and Co. higher on the chart, but it was “another BIG week at soundscan,” he said, “sales are on a roll. Adele did over 350k.” Yikes. Despite the launch of the Bright Eyes global domination tour, you should see that number slowly decline until the band’s next network appearance. I’ve been told that once a band does Letterman or any other competing late-night show, that they’re blackballed form appearing on Saturday Night Live, which is a shame because BE could do real damage with an SNL appearance, and deserves the spot. But you take what you can get, I suppose, and Letterman has been a faithful supporter of Conor for years. Oberst certainly knows who has been there since the beginning. Let’s hope he remembers when it comes time to do local interviews surrounding the June Westfair date…

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The Bonacci Brothers’ new band The Benningtons plays tonight at Slowdown Jr. They recently finished recording a new CD, which I’ve listening to while on the road (more details about that later). You should go to this show tonight. With Sun Settings and Sour Babies, it’s only $7.

Also tonight, Dim Light plays at The Barley Street Tavern with Damon Moon & the Whispering Drifters and South of Lincoln. $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.

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