Live Review: Young Jesus, Thick Paint, Ian Sweet, Jason Steady…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 29, 2018

Young Jesus at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On the surface, Saddle Creek Records’ addition of Young Jesus to its roster would appear to be a real thinking-outside-the-box moment for a label that’s prided itself on releasing some of the best singer/songwriter indie rock over the past 20 years.

Young Jesus’ new album, The Whole Thing Is Just There, has the auspicious honor of including the longest track ever released by a Saddle Creek band, “Gulf,” a tune that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. On first blush the entire record seems experimental bordering on art project. That said, The Whole Thing… also has the honor of being the highest-rated Saddle Creek release reviewed by Pitchfork, coming in at a staggering 8.1 rating. In Pitchfork terms, that’s genius level.

The Whole Thing… is about as far away from being a pop album as anything Saddle Creek has released since Beep Beep back in the ’00s. And on first listen, it can be a challenge, but I have to admit the record goes down better after seeing these guys live last night at O’Leaver’s. Following what sounded like an improvised jazz-rock instrumental, they launched into “Green,” the opening track off their Saddle Creek rerelease S/T, which, yes, sounds like an indie rock song.

The rest of the set included songs off the new album, including standout track “Deterritory” and set closer, “Gulf,” whose center section consisted of a free jazz improvisational noise collage that bent back into the opening chords and took all of its 20-plus minutes.

After the set. the house music was tracks off the Cap’n Jazz anthology Analphabetapolothology (Jade Tree, 1998) that someone aptly pointed out was appropriate considering the similarity between the bands’ sounds. While possible free-form at its core, there’s obvious structure to Young Jesus’ songs, a method to the madness that made me rethink the album (which I listened to again on the drive home). I don’t know if it will be a big seller for Saddle Creek, but it adds credibility to their vision of releasing music not necessarily for commercial sake, but because they love it.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

I caught the last half of Thick Paint’s opening set and it was the usual amazing, intricate, tuneful rock that they’ve become known for. A different player on bass (usual bassist Sarah Bohling is on the road with David Nance, I believe) didn’t throw off their game a bit. Call it indie prog. The mystery continues as to who is going to put out this band’s next album.

Ian Sweet at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

Last night’s show, which was originally scheduled to start at 6, didn’t get rolling until after 7 because the bands were late getting to town. As a result, headliner Ian Sweet didn’t go on until after 10. Playing as a three-piece, the set was harder and more abrasive than what I was expecting having heard her new album — i.e., it rocked, at least for the four songs I caught before I headed home.

Hey O’Leaver’s, I love these early Sunday shows. Keep them coming!

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Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies at Burrito Envy, Oct. 26, 2018.

I think I might be the only person I know that likes the food at Burrito Envy. I had three tacos, chips and salsa and a couple fine margaritas there Friday night before I caught a set by Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies.

All the way back to the Talking Mountain days, Steady’s style has been funny, friendly, good-time jangle rock with a slightly disconcerting message just below the surface, a message that’s hard to decipher when he and his ponies — a guy on a stripped-down drum kit and a backing vocalist/percussionist — are making you bounce in your seat to their sunny, good-time music, that included a couple country-esque indie pop ditties. Fun.

Steady is a natural showman, punctuating his set with between-song banter that makes you think he’d be the perfect host for a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse-style children’s program on Nick or PBS Kids. All he needs is some puppets, and anyone who knows Steady knows that’s well within his reach. Nothing would make my Saturday mornings better…

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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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Simon Joyner no longer leading Bemis project; Halloween weekend blues; Jason Steady, Kara Eastman tonight; Ian Sweet, Young Jesus, Thick Paint Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:51 pm October 26, 2018

Thick Paint at Slowdown Jr., March 30, 2018. The open for Ian Sweet and Young Jesus Sunday at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looks like Simon Joyner no longer is leading the Bemis’s new Sound Art and Experimental Music Residency Program mentioned here a couple days ago.

From the Bemis Center Facebook page:

Simon Joyner will not be leading the program. We will soon be opening a national job posting to find the best candidate to lead this program. Additional decisions about the program will be made after a reevaluation of the needs is complete. These changes and decisions take time.

It also appears, via Facebook, that producer Ben Brodin never was permanently involved in the project, but merely assisted early in offering some ideas about the space.

Joyner being named to the position last week sparked concern targeted at The Bemis Center. As Kevin Coffey reported yesterday in the GO Section of Omaha World-Herald, the Bemis organization fielded a number of e-mails, text messages and posts on social media. “The responses that we received were either supporting Simon or asking the Bemis to reconsider him as someone that would manage this new program, which we’re obviously thrilled to be launching next year,” said Bemis Executive Director Chris Cook in the OWH article.

Concerns about Joyner stemmed from his use of the N-word in a song he wrote that targeted racists and racism in America, released in 2017. Reporting on the controversy appeared in The Reader last November as well as in Lazy-i, which included a Q&A with Joyner about the topic.

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BTW, tonight’s Bemis benefit concert featuring Azure Ray / Destroyer (solo) is sold out.

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It’s the unofficial Halloween weekend at the clubs, which means krazy kostumes and very few live shows. Boo! (pun intended).

There’s a fundraiser tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s for Kara Eastman. DJ Tyrone Storm (a.k.a. Roger Lewis), Dirt House, Sean Pratt and Stephen Bartolomei are all slated to perform. The show runs 8 to 11 p.m. and suggested donation is $10.

And here’s a walk on the wild side: Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies are playing a free gig at Burrito Envy in Benson tonight. Bradley Unit also is on the bill that starts at 9 p.m.

And there’s a real hum-dinger of a show going on at O’Leaver’s Sunday in the early evening featuring Ian Sweet, Young Jesus and Thick Paint. Sweet’s new album Crush Crusher came out today on Hardly Art. Young Jesus, the latest addition to the Saddle Creek Records roster, released their new LP, The Whole Thing Is There, last week. And Thick Paint is one of Omaha’s hottest properties. All three bands for just $7. Starts at 6 p.m. Get your tickets online here.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i