Geriatric 12-12-12 performers take a (dentured) bite out of the Big Apple; Ladyfinger frontman is an undercover galactic star fighter; Stats sign to Afternoon Recs…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm December 13, 2012

by TIm McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Mick about to take flight.

Mick about to take flight.

I didn’t watch every moment of the 12-12-12 concert last night, but I did catch Rolling Stones, The Who, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys and Paul McCartney. For my money, Billy Joel won the “best remaining voice” competition among the codger squad. The Stones sounded every bit of 70 years old, Roger Daltrey can’t hit the high notes any more and McCartney was, well, better than I thought he’d be. It was a real sausage party. Strange that there was only, what, one woman vocalist all night? Shades of 2011 Maha Festival. As a whole, the production was a few steps below Jerry Lewis Telethon quality, with way too many technical glitches and quick cuts to people in headsets angrily shouting at someone off camera. But hey, that’s live television (or webvision) for ya.

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There’s a lot of “truth” and “growing up” going on with Ladyfinger’s next album, Errant Forms, slated for release Feb. 5, 2013, on Saddle Creek Records, and no track underscores that more than “Galactic,” the auto-biographical epic that explains once and for all the mysterious behavior of frontman Chris Machmuller. The gritty, brutal rock song tells the story of a man who picks up signals in his head — numbers and images — obviously a distress signal about an alien coup, and I’m not talking about an uprising at the Arizona state capitol. It all comes down to this line: “I’m a space invader and I think I can save this planet from galactic destroyers from space.” Unclear if Machmuller is saying he, himself, is an alien or some sort of “super soldier” tasked with leading a mission to destroy an alien onslaught. I’ve listened to this song on repeat at least 100 times in the past 24 hours and I’m still not sure. Maybe I’m not supposed to “be sure.” What I can say is that “Galactic” is one of the most important songs ever released by Saddle Creek Records (and one of my favorites). Watch the skies, people. PS: I can’t wait to see the video. Attention: Ridley Scott.

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Look’s like Statistics, the project by Denver Dalley (of Desaparecidos fame and Har Mar Superstar sideman) has signed to Afternoon Records. The label will be releasing the next Stats full length, Peninsula, in March. More info here. Check out Stats’ first AR single, below:

Statistics, “Rewind, Replay, Repeat”

 

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BTW, that For Against box set I mentioned on Tuesday slated for release in January? Well its release has been pushed back until May or June of 2013. And I’m also told to not hold my breath waiting for a For Against reunion. One can dare to dream…

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This week’s column is pt. 1 in a series about the joys and frustrations of remodeling a house. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

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No shows again tonight, which sucks because I have tomorrow off.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Ladyfinger, UUVVWWZ; Digital Leather, Pleasure Adapter (debut), Of Montreal tonight; Sons of Slowdown, Domestica, Envy Corps Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:12 pm December 7, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A quick follow-up on yesterday’s “Best of” lists, The Reader‘s “Next 15 of ’12” went online yesterday afternoon, here.

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Rollingstone.com posted a couple early tracks from two upcoming Saddle Creek Records releases.

The jolly guys in Ladyfinger.

The jolly guys in Ladyfinger take a load off.

“Dark Horse” is the first sounds off Ladyfinger’s upcoming album, Errant Forms, out on the Creek Feb. 5. You can download the track fer free right now right here. The album was produced by that crazy mofo who produced their last record, Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear, Isis), at ARC Studios, with mixing at Bayles’ Red Room in Seattle. Says frontman Chris Machmuller at the ‘stone website: “Simply put, Dark Horse is about growing up: A departure from selfishness and moral ambiguity. Despite the overwhelming urge to escape, the convivial main character, upon reflection, realizes he wants to stay with his pregnant girlfriend. Two months after I finished writing the song I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child.” What a coincidence, Mach.

Also at Rolling Stone, right here, is “Open Sign,” the first song off UUVVWWZ’s next Saddle Creek release, The Trusted Language, also out Feb. 5. Get it.

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BFF

BFF

Benson’s First Friday (BFF) event is going on tonight, which means art and music to be seen and heard all along Maple Street. One red hot show that’s part of this event is at Sweatshop Gallery 2727 No. 67th St. (just south of The Barley Street Tavern) where Digital Leather headlines with Killer Blow and the debut of Pleasure Adapter, a brand new band featuring some familiar faces: Jeff Ankenbauer (ex Shanks, Saudi Arabia) on bass/vocals; Annie Dilocker (ex-Digital Leather) on keys; Ben Allen (Watching the Train Wreck) on guitar and newcomer Joey DeRosa. An arm wrestling tourney will be going on between bands. Should be a real David Lynch-ian moment. Admission is free and so is the beer with a $5 donation. Facebook says start time is 8, but the bands tell me that they won’t get rolling until 9. Take your chances.

Also part of BFF, Rock Paper Dynamite headlines at The Sydney with HERS and Goon Saloon. $5, 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, it’s the return of Of Montreal. I can tell you first-hand that if the show is anything like their last one a year ago last May, it’ll be well worth the $20 ticket price. Opening is the disco stylings of Brooklyn’s French Horn Rebellion. Show starts at 9.

On Saturday, Lincoln heroes Domestica return to Slowdown Jr. with The Sons of The Slowdown. $7, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday, Envy Corps returns to The Waiting Room with Field Club. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Barley Street Tavern Saturday night, Dirty Fluorescents plays along with Robo Dojo and Earlytown. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Have a damn fine 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Dance Me Pregnant ain’t over; Slowdown goes (mostly) covers for CWS; Son Volt tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 24, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Somehow this one fell through the cracks. Received April 26 from one John Vredenburg with the subject line: “Dance Me Pregnant Over?”

I think not. We’re finishing our record in May and will be out playing shows ASAP. We’ve just been on a delayed holiday, with all of us in our current projects….Chris Machmuller in the So-So Sailors and Ladyfinger, Mark McGowan in Ketchup & Mustard Gas, Corey Broman in New Lungs, and me in Digital Leather and Saudi Arabia. Busy dudes finally wanting to get this project back up and full steam ahead. Matt Balis is going to be the  fellow that’s mixing our first LP, and we couldn’t be more excited. Just figured I’d plant the seed in the scene.

I think when he says “Matt Balis” that Johnny means Matt Bayles, whose productions credits include the latest Cursive album, The Sword, Mastodon, Minus the Bear and a shitload more. This is indeed welcome news. In a related story, Ladyfinger just announced that it’s doing a free gig with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship June 22 at Slowdown as part of the club’s College World Series events.

NCAA

Alas, the Ladyfinger/Noah’s gig is the only one of consequence for the June 15-26 tent-city CWS madness at Slowdown. The rest of the schedule, announced earlier this week, includes such cutting edge bands as The Mother Dudes, The Lizard Kings, Hi-Fi Hangover, The Fishheads and Lemon Fresh Day. I realize that Slowdown feels that they should cater to the great unwashed masses (i.e., the non-300) for CWS, a crowd that one presumes doesn’t give two shits about indie rock. Still, I’ve been told that Slowdown’s tents weren’t exactly at capacity at last year’s CWS event with basically the same lame-o coverband lineup. For what it’s worth, it has been suggested that Slowdown build on its strengths as an indie/quality rock music centerpiece to Omaha’s music scene by booking some of the best local indie bands for the CWS weeks, which at the very least would expand some culture into a rather culture-starved CWS fanbase. Deaf ears…

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Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s classic ’90s band Son Volt (Jay Farrar ex-Uncle Tupelo) with Matt Cox. And yes, I prefer these guys to Wilco (but as you might guess, I’m in the extreme minority). $15, 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lady Gaga or Ladyfinger tonight…?

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 11:46 am December 27, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I just had to throw that out there as Facebook is buzzing this morning about Lady Gaga’s Benson invasion last night. I was not there; I did not see the Gaga in person. I heard she got mobbed. I guess The Waiting Room needs to get a “VIP Area,” though I don’t know where they’d put it. Maybe it’s time to build a balcony somewhere…

Well, if Ms. Germanotta is still in Omaha, she may want to consider dropping in at Slowdown (which does have a balcony) tonight for Ladyfinger with Back When, The Answer Team and Lightning Bug. That’s a lot of heavy rock for just $7. Starts at 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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Our Fox, Ladyfinger, Criteria; MAHA talent show tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 7:03 pm May 24, 2010
Our Fox May 21, 2010

Our Fox at The Barley Street Tavern, May 21, 2010.

Here’s a recap of the past weekend, starting at The Barley Street Tavern Friday night.

The best part about opening duo Love of Everything: Their songs were short, and no, that’s not a shot at them. I actually enjoyed their simple tunes with simple choruses played by the simple duo of vocalist/guitarist Bobby Burg and wife/drummer Elisse. Burg gave their sound depth using an effects pedal that allows guitarists to record samples of a guitar line or phrase and play it back repeatedly, allowing for another guitar line (and another) and so on. This worked best on  “I Love All You Guys,” a song where Burg seemed to be playing random feedback squawks, until those squawks started to repeat themselves as part of the song — small, sharp shocks of sound that pushed through the guitar and vocals at strangely opportune times. And before you got tired of the whole thing, the song quickly ended.

The Barley Street’s small room packed up (but not claustrophobic-ly so) for Our Fox, who could be the next best thing on Saddle Creek Records (if Creek would take them) — and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they did, with personnel that includes frontman Ryan Fox (The Good Life) and second guitarist Jake Bellows. On the most basic level, their music fits  the slacker/indie-rock category but with an intensity of early Crazy Horse (Stephen Malkmus and Crazy Horse?). Fox has one of those shaky, unstable croons that sounds like a less-nasal version of Simon Joyner. Actually, he probably has more in common with someone like Malkmus vocally, and that shakiness is less apparent on the few demo recordings on their Myspace page. I thought the first few songs sounded like Good Life out-takes, and I could have imagined Tim Kasher singing them (with great aplomb). I like their music better when they leave Kasherville and head toward Foxland, where the citizens aren’t afraid to let it all hang out on songs that aren’t afraid to go on and on and blissfully on. This is a band that could create the indie equivalent of “Cowgirl in the Sand” or “Down by the River” — long, drawn-out jams that you never want to end thanks to Bellows’ and Fox’s clever, inventive and sometimes raw guitar work backed by a solid rhythm section.

Saturday night was a Saddle Creek Records reunion showcase with the return of both Ladyfinger and Criteria at The Waiting Room. Though not a sell-out, the place was appropriately packed. Ladyfinger played first (after opener Masses’ set). It was the first time I’ve seen the new line-up with Dan Brennan on bass replacing Ethan  Jones, and Megan Morgan (Landing on the Moon) on backing vocals (on about half the songs). Ladyfinger is a different band with Brennan, both style- and performance-wise. You cannot ignore him on stage; he gets locked in and doesn’t let go. It’s fun to see that level of pure enthusiasm from a band that’s pretty much known for just standing around on stage and playing. Their performance was the usual dead-on excursion into serious mind-fuck rock; too bad the sound mix was so bad. From where I stood almost dead center and 20 feet from the stage, everything was flat, without dynamics. Some guitar lines got lost in the fog along with the vocals (especially Morgan’s, who only rarely broke through the surface).

The sound mix problems continued with Criteria. The usual soaring guitars and vocals — the highlight of any Criteria performance — seemed buried in the rumble. A number of soundmen in the audience gave me their arm-chair quarterback diagnosis, telling me that there wasn’t enough being driven through “the mains.” All’s I know is that Aaron Druery’s guitar was tough to make out at times, and A.J. Mogis’ microphone might as well have been unplugged. Despite that, you couldn’t tell that this band hadn’t been on a stage in almost two years. It all sounded tight, including Stephen Pedersen’s high-flyin’ vocals that still have that pop. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives, and so did an audience that greeted old favorites with raised fists. The band also rolled out some new material that, to me, was a departure from the usual militant rattle-and-hum toward something more, well, groovy —  there was something slightly vintage about the new riffs. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I liked it. Too bad we probably won’t be seeing these guys again until 2012.

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I know it’s already 7 p.m. but I figure I might as well give you this late reminder about the MAHA showcase tonight at Slowdown. The four bands vying for a slot on the MAHA Festival’s small stage are Betsy Wells, Dim Light, Flight Metaphor, and Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship. Voting will take place during the show, and the whole thing is free, so you don’t have anything to lose. It also starts early — 8 p.m.

Also playing tonight over at O’Leaver’s are Street Lethal (covering The Ramones), Stoned at Heart and Flamboyant Gods. $5, 9 p.m.

Lazy-i

Live Review: So-So Sailors, Jeremy Messersmith, The Mynabirds…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 6:35 pm May 3, 2010

I came to see Jeremy Messersmith, the crowd came to see The Mynabirds, but it was So-So Sailors that everyone was talking about after the show Saturday night at Slowdown Jr.

The room was only about half-full when Messersmith took the stage for a solo-acoustic set. In most cases, I’d be bummed about a solo set, especially from someone like Messersmith whose records are some of my favorites and are generally played with a full band. But business is business these days, and it’s expensive to haul a band around with you on tour (especially when no one knows who you are). Messersmith made the most of it, augmenting his guitar and voice with a series of effects pedals that nicely filled out the songs — magical pedals that created the effect of two-, three-, four-part harmony, pedals that provided rhythm tracks and pedals that created loops of vocals and guitar lines, all brought together like a modern-day one-man band. Even when he didn’t use the doo-dads, I enjoyed what I heard. Messersmith is an amazing songwriter who has a gift for creating gorgeous melodies and monster sing-along hooks. He also has a huge, high voice (imagine Ben Gibbard if Ben Gibbard could really sing). In addition to playing tunes off his new album and my favorite, The Silver City (download it now at jeremymessersmith.com), Messersmith did two covers — a Red House Painters-style version of “Norwegian Wood,” and his take on The Replacements’ “Skyway” (which also appears on Silver City). We need to get him back here soon (see photo), but with a full band and big amps to drown out the sea of audience chit-chat.

By the time he was done, the room was near capacity. I have no idea if this show was a sell-out, but it was a crush-mob. Next was the stage debut of So-So Sailors, a local supergroup of sorts, anchored by Chris Machmuller (Ladyfinger) on vocals and piano, Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching) on Wurlitzer, Alex McManus (The Bruces) on guitar, Brendan Greene-Walsh (O’Leaver’s) on bass and the former drummer for Bloodcow (whose name I don’t know (Edit: It’s Dan Kemp)).

With Mach on the front end, I guess I was expecting something harsh, uptempo and loud. Instead we got slow, quiet and pretty. Beautiful at times; edgy and proggy at others.  The faster, louder songs fell in line with the slowest moments of Ladyfinger. It was all very moody for the most part and different than anything that any of these guys have done before. Definitely not what I or probably anyone was expecting.  One thing’s for certain, with this band — and this laid-back style of music — Mach has absolutely nowhere to hide. His voice is fully exposed for all to hear. It’s a cool (if not unsteady) voice that sounds like a sleepy, Midwestern version of Roger Waters on songs that often start with Mach playing piano one-handed only to gradually build to a pounding finish. Quite a debut, and quite a buzz afterward (see really lousy photo).

Finally, there was The Mynabirds. I think I made clear in my interview and in the blog that I really like their album, but I wasn’t sure if it would translate well live. The record is a real hodge-podge of styles made popular by some very familiar indie female artists. One song (“Ways of Looking”) sounds EXACTLY like a Mazzy Star tune, complete with droopy guitar line and morning-after vocals. At other times, Laura Burhenn sounds like Jenny Lewis, other times like Chan Marshall of Cat Power, other times like Maria or Orenda, and so on. So while entertaining, I’m still not quite sure I know who Burhenn really sounds like (despite what Pitchfork says). I’m not convinced that she’s defined her own style, yet. The arrangements on the recording are very, very good, but could they pull them off on stage without horns? And how would Burhenn compare to someone like Jenny Lewis, who owns a stage from entrance to exit? Could Burhenn bring out her inner-diva, or would she just stand behind her keyboard all night.

Well, in the end, she did pull it off, though she never strayed from that tiny spot behind her keyboard stand. Playing as a five piece, the music obviously lost some of the dynamic edge heard on the CD, but what did I expect? Burhenn was in good voice, belting out the hits, and to be honest, sounding more unique and on her own than on the record. She has a different delivery on stage — it’s bluesier, looser, more relaxed and natural. It was distinctly Burhenn (even though the person next to me still compared her to Jenny Lewis). Now if we could only get her to loosen up behind the microphone.

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