Darren Keen has the soundtrack to your next video game; June indie bookings looking up…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:42 pm February 12, 2018

Iceage at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 24, 2014. The band plays at The Waiting Room June 18.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday Darren Keen, who you might remember from The Show Is the Rainbow, shared links to a couple new albums he just dropped. They’re instrumental albums called Let Me Score Your Video Game and Let Me Score Your Video Game #2.

As the names imply, these albums contain 8-bit- and 16-bit-style music that would be appropriate as soundtracks to your run-of-the-mill ’80s- or ’90s-era video game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will right after clicking the links below.

I asked Keen if he was a big gamer.

I’m not a ‘gamer’ because I don’t play lots of games, but the games I do play, I play obsessively,” he said. “I grew up playing Final Fantasy games for NES – SNES – Playstation. I used to hit ‘save points’ at certain parts of the game where I liked the music a lot. The music was so so so important to me. It wasn’t til I started doing my ‘Darren Keen’ music that I realized what a huge influence Nobuo Uematsu (the dude who scored the Final Fantasy games) was on me.”

Keen would love to add “video game music composer” to his already large music resume. Maybe these albums will be the tokens that get him into that very special music industry arcade.

BTW, Keen will be celebrating the release of his new The Show Is the Rainbow LP in Lincoln this Friday and on March 3 in Benson at The Sydney.

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One Percent was busy announcing Junes shows this morning. Among them:

— Okkervil River June 9 at The Waiting Room.

— First Aid Kit June 13 at Sokol Auditorium

— Iceage June 18 at The Waiting Room

The additions are a welcome relief after a pretty quiet winter show-wise. What else does 1% have up its sleeve? And will there be any Stir Cove announcements that rival last year’s Beck concert?

Summer can’t come fast enough…

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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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Live Review: Lars & Mal; Iceage, Oquoa, Eli Mardock, Bloodcow tonight; Nightbird, Plack Blague Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:26 pm October 24, 2014
Lars & Mal at Reverb, Oct. 23, 2014.

Lars & Mal at Reverb, Oct. 23, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Lars and Mal are vocalist Mallory Finch and vocalist/guitarist Laura Weiss along with three other members, keyboardist/vocalist Chelsea Taxman, mandolin player/guitarist/banjo player Adam Sherrerd and Ricky Green on cajon, which I learned last night is a wooden box used for percussion, sort of like bongos.

But the core is those two front women/vocalists whose nicknames comprise the band’s name. It’s their intertwining harmonies that define their sound, along with their easy-going, Autumn-colored love songs. They reminded me of early ’90s Lilith-style women-fronted folk duos, such as The Story and Indigo Girls, and songwriters like Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin and Rebecca Jenkins, but that’s too easy. Someone last night compared them to Neko Case, which I didn’t catch.

Their voices are amazing. Finch is among the best women vocalists in the area, hands down, with Weiss right next to her, and when they harmonize it’s something special. The songs, on the other hand, are by-the-numbers folk stuff, pretty but predictable. The exceptions were the sublime “Weaker Now” and bluesy “Shoulda Known” that coaxed hand claps from the big crowd of (what looked like) around 100. The combo is worth keeping an eye on, especially when they begin to reach beyond their songwriting comfort zone.

Lars & Mal was the perfect combo to show off Reverb’s music room, which sounded stellar during their set. The club added acoustical tile to the walls in an effort to cut down on the bounce, and it appears to be working, though there was plenty of “boom” during last night’s opening set by The Derby Birds, a four piece rock band fronted by Tony Bonacci. Their debut album, released on Bandcamp this past May, was a pleasant surprise. Live the band brought the mid-tempo indie swing to life, though the mix was muddy. Bonacci is a talented guy whose music at times reminded me of former local crooner Jake Bellows (of Neva Dinova). Someone should get Derby Birds to open for that Neva show Dec. 23 at Slowdown (though that ticket already is filled with three openers).

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Let’s get to the show line-ups.

The “Big Show” of the weekend is tonight at Slowdown Jr. where Matador band Iceage takes center stage. The band’s new album, Plowing into the Field of Love, is blowing up thanks to a “Best New Album” recommendation by Pitchfork, which gave it a massive 8.5 rating. This is slurred, gritty indie rock sung by a troupe of angry slacker Danes. Opening is Aussie band Helm, whose music (released on Sumerland) sounds like indie grunge, and local dudes Telepathy Problems. $12, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.

Also tonight, local dreamrock supergroup Oquoa plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with hip-hop duo BOTH. $5, 9:30 p.m.

The Waiting Room is hosting the soundtrack release show for the film Bent Over Neal tonight. Among the performers are Eli Mardock, Bloodcow and The Strange Attractors. $8, 8 p.m.

Saturday night Travelling Mercies open for White Buffalo at Reverb. $15, 9 p.m.

Creepy electronic leather fetish freakout Plack Blague and electronic noise landslide Lvrk Late are among the performers at Industrial Night Omaha hosted at Sweatshop Gallery Saturday night. $6, 9 p.m.

Over at the Barley Street Omaha’s newest stoner/sludge rock band Nightbird (featuring Gerald Lee of Filter Kings), Bad Aqple and Western Electric open for Vago. $5, 9 p.m.

Be warned that Saturday is Zombie Walk day in Benson. I think the madness starts at 4. I hope to be watching it from the safe confines of the deck at 1912.

That’s what 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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CD Reviews: Bowie, Iceage and Spotify (in the column); Tim Kasher, Brighton MA at O’Leaver’s tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:17 pm March 21, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen a couple of these reviews in one format or another already (though they’ve been slightly altered). Bowie got nudged from the top spot on Billboard by Bon Jovi, which is a shame. Whether you like the new Bowie album or not, it’s hard not to root for him. I didn’t mention the new Low because I only got it yesterday. It’s a return to form for the Duluth trio. I’d love to get them back to Omaha somehow. The surprise among the Honorable Mentions is the Hookworms album, which is real steamroller of a record — grinding psychedelic throb rock, entrancing, Find it.

OTE53: The Quarterly Music Roundup, Brought to You in Spotify

Time for the usual roundup of what I’ve been listening to, this time stretching back to the beginning of the year. And for your information, all of it is available right now via Spotify.

Iím not trying to endorse the service, which is systematically fleecing just about everyone involved in the music industry. I’m just letting you know how I’ve come across the music, and it’s a lot different than it was in “the good old days.”

There was a time about five years ago when I received five or six manila envelopes per week in the mail loaded with promotional CDs. Today, I get about one CD a month (and it almost always sucks).

Instead of CDs, record labels now ìserviceî critics electronically. That means sending us emails with super-secret passwords that allow us to download albums from highly secured ìpress onlyî websites. To be honest, I prefer the downloads to cluttering up my office with CDs, even though I canít trade mp3s for store credit at Homer’s.

But lately even those download codes are drying up. Maybe itís because I’m writing less and less about music in these pages, or because record labels now simply streaming full albums via music websites prior to official street release.

Or maybe itís Spotify, where one can find every new album streamed on its release date. Make that “almost every new album,” because not everything is on Spotify, or even available online. Which explains why there’s no review of the new My Bloody Valentine album, titled m b v, below. Not only is it not in Spotify, it’s not on iTunes or available as a free stream anywhere. If you want to hear the new MBV, youíre gonna have to pay for it, kids, just like we all used to do.

Now, onto the reviews:

David Bowie, The Next Day — Some records take time to “sink in,” but how much time do you give? If itís David Bowie, you give it all the time it needs, I suppose. But after listening to this one off and on for about a week, I’m still struggling to find anything that stands out as being “essential,” or for that matter, memorable. Highlights “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and “(You Will) Set the World on Fire” are as close to straight-up rock as you’re likely to get from the once-Thin White Duke, and are indeed good, if not safe. The foggy, fuzzy, melancholy ballad “Where Are We Now?” is comfortably attractive. The rest of it feels by the numbers, if not slightly dated; functional, but sung well by a voice we all love (and miss). Maybe thatís all weíll ever get from now on, or all we need, or maybe I just haven’t given it enough time.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away — As with most of his recordings, Cave is perversely dramatic in his singing/speaking, as if telling dark lies at midnight, which by the way, is the best time to listen to this record. The centerpiece, “Jubilee Street,” starts with a quiet repeated guitar line and Cave’s weird story about a street hustler named Bea. It builds slowly over six and a half minutes to a massive crescendo reminiscent of the best moments from the Kadane Brothers — the guys behind classic bands Bedhead and The New Year. But instead of Matt Kadaneís droll, monotone vocal delivery you get Cave at his most urgent. The rest of the record is merely sublime. From the dark rumble of “We Real Cool” (with the winning line, “Wikipedia is heaven when you don’t want to know anymore”) to the nearly 8-minute-long rock eulogy “Higgs Boson Blues” that calls out both Hannah Montana and her real-life counterpart: “Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake and youíre the best girl I ever had…” Shades of Robbie Robertson’s spoken-word dramas are conjured (“Somewhere Down the Crazy River” comes to mind), but Cave is never as corny, and never less than sincere.

Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic — One of the most hyped releases so far this year, and worthy of it. Produced by Richard Swift, who worked on the last two Mynabirds albums, track “In the Darkness,” with the line: “Thereís no need to be an asshole / Youíre not in Brooklyn anymore…” is pure ’70s Stones, as Stonesy as you can get without dragging Mick’s saggy old bones into the studio.

Iceage, You’re Nothing — Matador Records may be the only label left (well, along with Sub Pop and Merge, and good ol’ Saddle Creek) where just the announcement of a band’s signing is big news. It means that the label’s brain trust has “discovered” something new, something “breakthrough” that could be as defining as when they signed Liz Phair or Pavement. Unfortunately, the last time that happened at Matador was when they signed Interpol way back in 2002. Still, when word leaked out that Matador signed Iceage it sent people scrambling to the internet to find out what these Danish punks sound like. That answer was only mildly hopeful. Iceage puts a new snarl on post-punk, like a modern version of Husker Du sung by a wasted slacker with a cockney’d scowl and not much to say. Songs like “It Might Hit First” border on hardcore, though there’s something artful beneath the buzz (Maybe itís the guitar solo that cuts in at the 30-second mark?). When they pull back toward the more conventional (“In Haze”) the ice melts revealing something akin to melody, and the road that all good punks head down… eventually.

Honorable Mentions worth seeing out on Spotify, or at your local record store: Suuns, Images du Futur; Foals, Holy Fire; Yo La Tengo, Fade; Big Harp, Chain Letters; Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right; Hookworms, Pearl Mystic.

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

First published in The Reader. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Tonight is second night of Tim Kasher’s two-night stand at O’Leaver’s. Last night was the solo acoustic gig. Tonight he’ll have a band of familiar faces backing him (so I’m told). Opening is Brighton MA, who according to Omahype is actually a Chicago band who has played with The Walkmen, Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins, among others. Will this one sell out? Don’t chance it. Buy your tickets now. $10, 9:30 p.m.

Hey guys, you better have that tournament going on somewhere…

Also tonight, Dirty River Ramblers play at The Sydney with Brad Hoshaw and In Cahoots. And Celtic-style howlers Great Big Sea are at The Waiting Room ($25, 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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