Congrats Josh, now get back to work; Hear Nebraska’s Music Man; Creepoid, Ecstatic Vision, David Nance tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm March 28, 2017

Angie and Andrew Norman from last night’s Nebraska Stories broadcast.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I couldn’t pull myself away from the new Slowdive video this morning long enough to watch Josh Hoyer’s losing performance on The Voice last night.

I see no reason to go on a lengthy diatribe about how much I dislike performance competition teevee shows like The Voice. If you’re reading this, you’re (probably) someone who already values art over performance, creativity over mimicry, genuine-ness over shtick. The Voice is what the huddled masses mistake for art; pretty faces and their pretty bleetings mired in the muck desperately reaching for fame.

Why did Hoyer bother going on The Voice? As he implied in his audition video, he had nothing else to lose. He’s tired of scraping for tips to support his family while he struggles to get his music career on a sustainable trajectory. A show like The Voice puts him in front of millions of people who otherwise never would have heard him. If even a fraction of a fraction of that audience decided to go to the internet and find out more about Josh, well then, it was worth the effort (right?).

I’ve heard various stories about what the producers of these kinds of talent shows make participants sign away prior to letting them go on stage (and even more the further they go). If those stories are true, then losing last night may have been the best thing to happen to Hoyer. His talent lies as a bandleader, a songwriter, a musician, and yes, as a vocalist, but it’s the combination that sets him apart.

Regardless, now is the time to fan the ember lit by last night’s national exposure, and maybe, just maybe, a flame will arise. So, congratulations on the effort, Josh, now back to work, which won’t be too hard considering he’s playing tonight in Kufstein, Austria, on a European tour that winds down in Brussels April 1 (a tour he presumably booked well before The Voice aired).

* * *

Can you imagine how an undiscovered Bob Dylan or Chrissie Hynde or Neil Young or Conor Oberst would fare on The Voice?

* * *

Speaking of quality television, last night NET public television broadcast a report about Hear Nebraska on “Nebraska Stories” (right after Antique Roadshow). Titled “Hear Nebraska’s Music Man” the 8-minute clip captures a day in the life of last year’s Good Living Tour along with our intrepid hero, Andy Norman (i.e., the Music Man) and Hear Nebraska co-founder Angie Norman while they hustle (along with a sizable crew) to make everything work in remote locales like Imperial and Lyons.

It’s a great piece. Check out the clip below.

* * *

Maha is getting ready for the big reveal Thursday night. The media already has been informed (and told to embargo until the official announcement). It’s an impressive line-up and a bit of a change in direction from last year’s festival…

* * *

Tonight Philly rock band Creepoid (Graveface Records), whose sound has been described as “somewhere between Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth and Asobi Seksu,” headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Psych-rock band Ecstatic Vision (Relapse Records) opens along with our very own David Nance. $7, 9 p.m.

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Here’s that Slowdive video I mentioned… enjoy.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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More Nance (and more Nance a-coming); High Up, Sam Martin, Silversphere, Josh Hoyer tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 5:10 pm December 15, 2016
High Up plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

High Up plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Everyone’s favorite low-fi rock explosion, David Nance, dropped a 17-song live blast called Dragging Across The East yesterday via Bandcamp. Sez Nance in Facebook: “Here’s 17 songs recorded live over the past couple of years. Recorded mostly on an iPhone (although there’s a few takes from a session at WNYU), everything included is quite loose and ugly. Fun stuff. Banter galore. A few covers (Richard Thompson and Armand Schaubroeck). All Free. Happy Holidays.

Hear Nebraska says Nance just wrapped recording his next studio album, which will be released next year on Ba Da Bing. That ticking sound you hear is Nance, about to explode.

* * *

Omaha World-Herald‘s Kevin Coffey posted an item with an embedded video of Conor Oberst singing The Replacements’ “Here Comes A Regular,” dedicated to Conor’s brother, Matt, who recently passed away. I didn’t know Matt, though I had the pleasure of interviewing him a couple times about his band, Sorry About Dresden, one of my favorites from the early ’00s. Why Dresden never took off like those other early Creek bands, I do not know. It sure wasn’t from lack of quality.

* * *

With three hot shows happening tonight you’d think it was already the weekend (which it kind of is for me since I have tomorrow off).

Top of the list is High Up down at Slowdown Jr. What’s the occasion? Who needs a reason to rock? Maybe Christine and Co. will roll out some new material. Find out. And get there early. The amazing Sam Martin opens along with the always-entertaining Sean Pratt & the Sweats. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at The Brothers Lounge, Silversphere (f.k.a. The Lepers) headlines a show with Ridgelines and Chalant. $5, 9 p.m.

And finally, Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal overtake fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Can everyone’s favorite mid-town club handle Hoyer’s expansive sound? No opener listed, just a long night of Hoyer soul/funk. 9:30, $5.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Quilt; MiWi La Lupa, Bomb Shelter Radio tonight, Josh Hoyer Saturday; Yuck, Big Thief Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm April 1, 2016
Quilt at Reverb Lounge, March 31, 2016.

Quilt at Reverb Lounge, March 31, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last night’s Quilt performance at Reverb Lounge was a gorgeous step back into another time and place: San Francisco circa 1967, or at least what I think it must have been like back then, sans drugs and war and technology and free love.

Audibly the band captured that fractured, beautiful era with its own pastoral rock rife with Byrd-ian harmonies, Jeffersonian Airplane guitar and sun-streaked flowers-in-your-hair melodies amped up to modern times with flourishes of pace and rhythm likely absent from the Nixon era.

That’s a colorful and long-winded way of saying that Quilt’s performance dripped with even more nostalgia than what’s heard on their sublime new album, Plaza. That record is, without a doubt, destined to become a modern indie rock classic, dense with strings and flute and keyboards along with the band’s sterling performance. But Plaza is more upbeat, modern-sounding and “rocking”  than what we got last night, which for the most part, felt a tad subdued and painted in sepia tones.

The four-piece recently became a five-piece with the addition of a keyboard player, who gave dimension to the traditional rock arrangements. It’s harmonies that take the sound to the next level. While front-woman/guitarist Anna Rochinski and guitarist/vocalist Shane Butler provided the bulk of the lead vocals, drummer John Andrews’ tight harmonies on almost every song  provided glowing nuance. Bass player Keven Lareau also threw in some extra woo-hoo vocals. Andrews got to sing lead on one number, which he dedicated to local hero Simon Joyner.

While most of the songs were laid-back, the band got the crowd moving on the night’s closer, “Own Ways,” which also is the album closer on Plaza and my favorite song on the album. Imagine Feelies’ rhythms with spy guitar and CSN&Y harmonies — the perfect highway driving song.

Afterward, it was a feeding frenzy for merch back inside the bar (and I think I accidentally screwed the band out of $5 when I bought a vinyl copy of the new album and a T-shirt. I’ll pay you back next time, Team Quilt).

Halfloves at Reverb Lounge, March 31, 2016.

Halfloves at Reverb Lounge, March 31, 2016.

Opening band, Iowa City’s Halfloves, played standard indie fare that too often felt muted and  withdrawn for what they were trying to pull off. That said (and this is the strangest thing), the band had a way with how it ended songs. I started noticing this toward the end of their set. The third-to-last song (no idea what it was called) had an amazing instrumental outro that played off a shimmering keyboard line and could stand on its own as a musical piece (and that got the best crowd reaction of their set). Wonder if these guys ever considered doing instrumental-only compositions…

* * *

What a week of shows. From an indie music standpoint, the weekend lets up on the gas pedal, at least until Sunday night.

Tonight’s big show takes place at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where native New Yorker now Omahan MiWi La Lupa celebrates the release of his new album on Team Love Records, Ended Up Making Love, produced by Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst. I would not be surprised if half of Bright Eyes doesn’t make a guest appearance during MiWi’s set. Opening is McCarthy Trenching and Mike Schlesinger. $8. Starts at 9:30. Expect a crowd.

Tonight also is the swan song for Bomb Shelter Radio at Milk Run. The art project / guerrilla radio station located in the art room next to Milk Run will be broadcasting tonight’s show live starting at 9 p.m. at 95.5 FM in downtown Omaha and online at http://mixlr.com/bomb-shelter-radio/.

Bands will be playing in both the Milk Run and in the Bomb Shelter room. The lineup: No Thanks, Sam Martin, Conchance, Dominique Morgan, Silversphere, Was (members of Gordon, Universe Contest), Rogue Moon, Graham Ulicny, The Shrinks. The show starts at 9 sharp and is $10.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal celebrates the release of their new album, Running from Love, at The Slowdown (no doubt in the big room). Opening is Satchel Grande and Rothsteen. The 8 p.m. show is $8 Adv/$10 DOS.

Also Saturday night, O’Leaver’s has Anthems, Low Long Signal and Super Ghost. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally Sunday night, Lookout Lounge does it again. Indie band Yuck (MAME Records) headlines a show that also includes Saddle Creek Records’ latest signing, Big Thief, making their Omaha debut. Opening is Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. I suspect this will be a rather massive show. Better get your tickets now. $12 Adv / $15 DOS. Show starts at 9 p.m.

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lazy-i Interview: Son of 76 and the Watchmen; Say it ain’t true: It’s True calling it quits?

Son of 76 and the Watchmen

Son of 76 and the Watchmen

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Bicentennial Man: Son of 76 and the Watchmen

Son of 76 and the Watchmen celebrates Shangri-La.

Lincoln’s Son of 76 and The Watchmen is not a blues band, not that there’s anything wrong with playing the blues.

The Son of 76 himself, Josh Hoyer, sees some advantages to being aligned with the genre. “If you’re called a blues band, blues fans will come out to see you even if you don’t play the blues,” he said.

Conversely, there are those who go out of their way to avoid blues bands, having been burned too many times by the army of Blues Hammer (i.e., “blues rock”) acts that have eroded the genre to something that just barely crosses the line from being a cover band.  Hoyer quoted a friend who summed it up this way: “What went wrong with the blues world is that a bunch of old white guys with day jobs put on bowling shirts and began playing the same Stevie Ray Vaughn covers,” he said. “Blues is a pretty vast genre, but the majority of guys around here are stuck in that world.”

It was my own close-minded take on blues that almost kept me from discovering Hoyer’s band at last year’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards (OEAA) summer showcase. Someone had told me they were a straight-up blues act, and I nearly left before they hit the stage. Luckily, I didn’t.

While there are blues overtones to some of their music — thanks in part to Hoyer’s throaty, deep vocal delivery — Son of 76 has more in common with classic American rock acts like Warren Zevon and Springsteen. On their new album, Letters from Shangri-La, the band sways through a plethora of genres, from the piano-driven rock of “She’s the Kind of Woman,” to the Celtic-flavored ballad “Annie’s Heart,” to the NOLA style of the title track, to the doo-wap of “The Moon,” to, yeah, the blues grind of “‘Til She’s Lovin’ Someone Else.” It’s Hoyer’s voice — which lies somewhere between Tom Waits, Dr. John and Elvis — that ties the styles together into something uniquely cinematic, original and thoroughly authentic.

Born in 1976 in Lincoln, Hoyer is a veteran of a number of bands including The Magnificent Seven and Electric Soul Method.  While he lived most of his life in the Star City, the music on Shangri-La was inspired by travels throughout the South. “I took a trip down Highway 61 and went to Clarksdale, Mississippi, and a lot of small towns in Louisiana,” he said. “Instead of taking pictures, I remembered what I’d seen and put it into the songs and lyrics.”

But not all of his songs are based on his travels. With the lines, “Well that coward was never a man / Just a scared little boy, with a gun in his hand,” the elegiac “Starkweather Son” has obvious local origins.

“Everyone in Lincoln has a Starkweather story,” Hoyer said. “I thought no one could write about it better than Springsteen.”

But then one night at a party during another round of Starkweather tales, Hoyer heard one that was hard to top. “This kid said, ‘My great uncle was Starkweather. I’m a Starkweather.’ He shared what it was like to grow up with the name,” Hoyer said. “He’d said that many of his relatives had been driven away and how hard it was to grow up in Lincoln, but that he wasn’t going leaving. He hadn’t done anything wrong. I knew it was a story that would make a great song.”

One of the best tracks off the new album, the song burns with a grim intensity, thanks to Hoyer’s band of local pros that includes Brian Morrow, bass; Nick Semrad, piano; Luke Sticka, rhythm guitar; Justin Jones on drums, and guitarist Werner Althaus, who also co-produced and recorded the album in his basement studio.

Hoyer said he met Althaus at an open jam and realized he was “the missing piece of the puzzle,” but was too shy to ask him to play in his band. “I finally got the nerve up,” Hoyer said. “For me, he perfectly finishes the songs I write by how he approaches music. He seems locked in on my ideas.”

Althaus, who sounds like a Midwestern Arnold Schwarzenegger thanks to a slight German accent, said that while Hoyer writes most of the music, everyone in the band gets involved putting the songs together and offering ideas. “Josh used to be much more controlling,” Althaus said. “In his previous bands, he told people exactly what to play. So this was a new thing for him.”

He said he doesn’t understand where the band’s blues tag came from. “I can hear the influence, but I don’t hear the blues,” Althaus said. “When people say I’m a blues player, I tell them that I’m not. I play what I want to play. I don’t listen to it or study the old masters, but if a blues vocal line fits into a song, why not?”

He added that the band’s musicians have a broad background in a variety of musical styles. “If someone takes it somewhere, we draw on what we know,” Althaus said. “We all have the basic vocabulary.”

“They’re all stellar players, and they’ve trusted me,” Hoyer said. “There have been times when I’ve written something that they’ve said is weird, but they’ll try it anyway.”

With a band that consists mostly of seasoned veteran musicians, Hoyer said touring may not be a realistic option. “We’re all adults,” he said. “Everyone except for Nick (Semrad) has a mortgage. Whenever I think about touring, it seems like a pipe dream. Maybe I’m killing the dream before it happens.”

For now, Hoyer is content booking local shows. “We sold a thousand copies of last album playing Lincoln and Omaha,” he said. “We’re building a crowd just playing at home. That’s pretty cool.”

Son of 76 and The Watchmen plays with The Kris Lager Band and Matt Cox, Thursday, July 1, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $6. For more information, visit waitingroomlounge.com.The band also is playing at Harrah’s Stir Lounge July 3 at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

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It's True at Slowdown Jr., June 30, 2010

It's True at Slowdown Jr., June 30, 2010

Just two months after releasing their debut album, It’s True announced that the band is calling it quits. The announcement came from stage at last night’s show at Slowdown Jr. “This is our third to last show,” said inebriated frontman Adam Hawkins without giving an explanation. “We have this show, and two others, and that’s it.” During the set, someone jokingly suggested to me that it was a publicity stunt. But something tells me the MAHA guys aren’t that brutally savvy — that’s right, the MAHA Festival July 24 would be the band’s last performance (not counting a rumored MAHA after-party), Hawkins said. Their second-to-last show will be in Lincoln tonight at The Bourbon Theater — that is if they are, indeed, breaking up. But something tells me it’s true, which is a shame.

Last night’s performance had all the charm of a drunken wake, with Hawkins taking double shots between songs. Despite proclaiming that he was “wasted,” he still put on one helluva show, calling his pals from Poison Control Center (the opening band) up on stage to join him for a couple songs. The set ended with a 15-minute guitar-noise-odyssey, with Hawkins kneeling with his back to the audience next to Kyle Harvey who was busy creating his own curtain of feedback on electric guitar surrounded by a couple girls on stage along with the PCC folks. The sonic melee didn’t end until after 1 a.m. when the house lights came up — a rare late-night at Slowdown. God only knows what the band has in store for tonight’s show in Lincoln.

* * *

In addition to tonight’s Son of 76 CD release show at The Waiting Room and It’s True at The Bourbon, Dim Light is opening a four-band bill tonight at Slowdown Jr. with The Vingins, and Colorado bands Woodsman and Candy Claw, who have been described as ambient/minimalist/psychedelic rock. $7, 9 p.m.

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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