Live Review: Little Brazil, Pro-Magnum; Little Dragon tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:03 pm June 4, 2018

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, June 1, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

What’s the old saying — the biggest crowds come for album releases and farewell shows… and reunions, of course. Because Little Brazil plays so scarcely these days, Friday night’s show at The Waiting Room notched two of those three. It felt sort of like a reunion while at the same time they were celebrating the release of their new record, Send the Wolves (2018, Max Trax). As a result, the crowd was more than respectable: my guestimate 150+.

I got there in time to see the tail end of Pro-Magnum’s arena rock set. At least it felt like an arena rock show. I’ve seen these guys a ton of times at O’Leaver’s, but to really feel the power and majesty of these metal animals you need a stage as big at TWR’s, and a sound system to match.

Pro-Magnum at The Waiting Room, June 1, 2018.

Fronted by bassist Johnny Vredenburg with guitarists John Laughlin and Alex Kinner and legendary drummer Pat Oakes (congrats, Pat, you made “legendary” status) the band played what we used to call in the business “heavy metal,” with Vredenburg screaming/croaking out the lead vocals in Midwest-satanic fashion. The guitar interplay was most impressive, and Oakes’ throaty drumming,  a keynote back in his days with Ladyfinger, is always a wonder to behold.

This really is a different band on a large stage, visually and sonically. I assume this crew was influenced by the great arena metal acts of yesteryear (Scorpions, Slayer, Iron Maiden, etc.) who never played anything but arenas. If Pro-Magnum sounds like this at TWR, how would they sound playing Baxter Arena?

Little Brazil hit the stage at around 11 with a massive storm about to bear down on the city. I watched the radar tentatively from my phone as Landon, DMax and crew tore into a set that included all my favorites from Send the Wolves — “You,” “Making a Mess” and “Motorbike,” which featured a guest vocal by Ladyfinger’s Chris Machmuller, who also sang on the album track.

It was the usual great performance — these guys never fail to deliver. After the first few songs they played two yet-to-be-recorded songs, presumably off the next album, which will give the crowd something to look forward to, though there’s a lot of meat to Send the Wolves, even a track that features Conor Oberst on vocals (DMax stood in for Conor on Friday night). It’s Little Brazil’s best effort to date and as good as anything Desparecidos put out in its waning years (though in no way political).

In their current roles as family-men, it’s hard to imagine the band hitting the road touring the record, and as far as I know, there’s no plans to do so. So the goal I guess is to sell out the short run of vinyl, move some digital downloads and get spins on Spotify (where it’s also available). And then get back in the studio and do it all again. It’s just like the old days when it was every band’s goal to make enough money to write and record the next album. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Tonight, Swedish electronic band Little Dragon plays at The Slowdown. The quartet has collaborated with the likes of Gorillaz, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek and SBTRKT. Kethro opens at 8 p.m. GA tix are $28.

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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

#TBT March 23, 2007: Little Brazil release show for Tighten the Noose; The English Beat tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm March 23, 2017

Little Brazil circa 2007. The band hosted the album release show for sophomore album Tighten the Noose 10 years ago today.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another highlight of ’07 along with the opening of The Slowdown and The Waiting Room was the release of Little Brazil’s sophomore album Tighten the Noose.

The album’s official release date according to AllMusic.com was Feb. 6, 2007. That website gave the recording a 3-1/2 star rating, but was less than complimentary in its review, saying, “…while these are perfectly admirable sonic references, they point up Tighten the Noose’s primary flaw: Hedges’ songs are solid, and he’s a perfectly decent singer and guitarist, but there’s a faintly anonymous quality to Tighten the Noose that keeps the album from sounding like more than the sum of (Landon) Hedges’ influences…

I remember when I first read that review thinking it was pretty lazy, especially considering the comparisons the writer threw out (Dream Syndicate? Apples in Stereo? Huh?). To me, Tighten the Noose would become Little Brazil’s “rock album,” comprised of the catchiest tracks they’ve recorded in their career. Tunes like “Last Night,” “Shades” and “Never Leave You” became staples of their set over the years and epitomized their sound. These are the tunes the band will be remembered for, along with the more epic, story-telling songs on the follow-up, 2009’s Son.

At this point in the band’s career, Little Brazil was still trying to pull itself away from Landon’s association with a couple of his former bands — Desaparecidos and The Good Life.

From Lazy-i March 21, 2007:

(Bass player Danny) Maxwell is skeptical that Hedges’ history has had an impact on drawing people to Little Brazil shows. “They don’t say, ‘Holy shit, it’s the guy from Desa.'”

Still, Maxwell said fans are aware of the band’s history and its connection to the Omaha music scene. “They ask us what Conor is doing right now,” Maxwell said. “I usually respond with, ‘I don’t know. We’re here with you tonight.'”

“There are fans out there that love that style of music and ask us what it’s like to be part of it,” (guitarist Greg) Edds explained. “I don’t mind when they’re being sincere. On the other hand, there are the ones who hand us gifts to bring back to Conor and Tim (Kasher).'”

“It’s annoying at this point in our careers,” Hedges said.

“But it’s getting to be less and less of a problem,” (drummer Oliver) Morgan added. “We’re starting to make our own mark.” — Lazy-i March 21, 2007

Read the whole story here.

According to my review in Lazy-i the next day, about 250 people showed up for the album release show at Sokol Underground March 23, 2007. The Photo Atlas was the opener. There was even a balloon drop halfway through Little Brazil’s first song, and Landon almost passed out from the heat/humidity.

From the 2007 review:

“Landon… is a pure crooner, an Omaha-style indie singer cut from the same bolt of cloth as Tim Kasher (a la The Good Life, not Cursive). Every time I see him with his just-woke-up hair and cheap wireframe glasses I think of Corey Haim as Lucas or a bespeckled Bobby Brady, age 13. His voice kinda/sorta matches his appearance — an unpretentious caterwaul that has no problem reaching for the high notes at the peak of a heart-wailing phrase. Little Brazil’s music isn’t exactly a bold, new direction in the world of indie rock. You got your cool guitar riffs, your lean bass lines, your thunderous drums (Oliver Morgan is always at his best every time I see him on stage — he has no second gear), coming together to form a verse-verse-verse song (why are there never any choruses these days?) that typically builds to a predictable — if satisfying — “big ending.” The differentiator — Landon’s Bobby-at-13 voice, that is both honest and simple and, well, good enough to cut through the din. It’s kind if quirky, but perfectly on pitch. And it follows a melody that rises and falls…” — Lazy-i, March 24, 2007

The next day the band drove to Denver to open for The Photo Atlas at their album release show…

Anyway, if you haven’t already, check out Tighten the Noose at Bandcamp. I listened to it again this morning on my way into work and it holds up exceptionally well. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if Landon and Co. got together for a 10-year anniversary performance of Tighten the Noose? Think about it, Maha…

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One of those bands that never seems to forget Omaha when it tours, Dave Wakeling and The English Beat, return to The Waiting Room tonight. Local ska band The Bishops opens. 8 p.m., $25.

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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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover Omaha…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:42 pm January 20, 2014
Ian Aello at Hear Nebraska's Take Cover at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

Ian Aeillo at Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I dropped in on the Hear Nebraska’s “Take Cover Omaha” benefit Saturday night at The Waiting Room and caught a full hour of covers and originals from a handful of Omaha’s finest songwriters.

The rules were the same as last time they did this — the artist comes on stage, usually alone but sometimes with one other person (no bands allowed, as it would take too much time to switch out between performances), where they play one cover and one original.

Performers get to pick their own covers, which makes sense since they’re donating their time — the last thing any musician wants to do is play a cover they don’t like. So as a result, performers tend to pick obscure songs by their friend’s bands, which means there’s a good chance audience members are listening to someone who they don’t know cover a song they’ve never heard before.

And thus was the case when Rachel Tomlinson Dick took the stage. If Rachel announced what she was playing, I missed it. She launched right into her cover followed by one of her songs. Both were lovely and unfamiliar.

Matt Whipkey followed suit, playing a song by his pal, Mike Friedman (The Lupines, Little Brazil), a song very few if any have heard before. That was followed by a song off Whipkey’s Penny Park album. Whip was joined by Korey Anderson on both.

Simon Joyner got help from Megan Siebe of Anniversaire. His cover was a song by Noah Sterba (Yuppies), followed by a Joyner original I didn’t recognize.

Dan McCarthy (of McCarthy Trenching, of course) sat behind a keyboard and played a cover, followed by one of his own.

Landon Hedges at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

Landon Hedges at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

My yearning to hear something familiar was finally quenched by Landon Hedges of Little Brazil. With an electric guitar slung across his massive shoulders, Hedges barreled into a tune I assume was his own (turns out it was a Mousetrap cover), but was followed by a fractured take on Bright Eyes’ “Lua” — complete with mid-song apologies that provided a level of vulnerability oddly fitting for a song about someone struggling to get by. Landon stumbled through both songs, accusing himself of “ruining them,” not realizing he was providing one of the most colorful moments of the evening.

I had time for two more performances before we had to head out. Sara Bertuldo of Millions of Boys and See Through Dresses ripped through a Criteria cover on her blazing electric guitar, followed by a song off the recently released STD album. And Ian Aeillo, who plays in Eli Mardock’s band, crushed a cover of Bright Eyes’ “The Calendar Hung Itself” powered by a cool-weird-funky guitar riff played with white-knuckle intensity. It was followed by a song he said he’d written only a few days prior to the show. Aeillo, who I’ve never heard sing before (at least not as a frontman) had a groovy Frank-Black-ian bark on a bitter love song that was nothing less than anthemic. It was a great way to end the evening.

All in all a good night for Hear Nebraska. The Lincoln version of Take Cover is slated for this coming Saturday at Vega, with performances by Eli Mardock, Liz Hitt (The Terminals), Jon Taylor & Heidi Ore (Domestica), Aaron Parker (Gordon), Jon Dell (Universe Contest) and a tons more.

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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.

Lazy-i

Full Desaparecidos reunion; Column 278 (Justin Bieber sighting); Maps & Atlases tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm July 7, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Landon Hedges of Little Brazil confirmed that the Desaparecidos reunion July 31 at the Concert for Equality will be an old-school full band event featuring all five original Desa members: Hedges, Conor Oberst, Denver Dalley, Ian McElroy and Matt Baum. For fans and followers of the Omaha indie music scene, this will be an historic event, especially when you factor in the Lullaby for the Working Class reunion.

I can think of two other bands that also are ripe for reunions — Commander Venus and Slowdown Virginia. Why not? They’re all going to be there…

* * *

Column 278 is a rehash of recent blog fodder, including the Concert for Equality announcement (that news broke right at deadline), and the It’s True break-up announcement (with one added comment: I don’t think you’ve heard the last of It’s True’s songs. Hawkins isn’t going to stop playing music; but he may stop playing it with other people, and what started out as a solo project could end up that way).

And one other thing: I was at Westroads Saturday afternoon picking up a new pair of flip-flops when I had a brush with this generation’s Donnie Osmond. As Teresa and I were leaving the DSW we heard high-pitched screams — a cross between fear, pain and orgasm — coming from the second floor of the mall. The cause of the turmoil was gliding down the escalator right in front of us, surrounded by an entourage of bodyguards and white-shirt security — teen heartthrob Justin Bieber and his bangs, looking like any other 16-year-old spending an afternoon at the mall.

Bieber looked bored and disinterested as flocks of teen-aged girls clustered just out of arms’ reach snapping photos with their cell phones. Yes, there were tears.

As the screams faded down the hallway I imagined a distraught Conor Oberst walking through the crowd, hands covering his ears, headed in the other direction, lost in thought trying to solve the problems of Arizona, Fremont and the state of civil rights in these United States, the whole time being completely ignored. Ah, Conor… it could have been you.

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown Jr., it’s Maps & Atlases with Drink Up Buttercup and The Globes. M&A’s latest, Perch Patchwork (Barsuk), is uptempo indie-pop with an acoustic flair, though it in no way resembles modern folk. Nothing twangy about these guys. Seattle’s The Globes plays trippy math rock that can slide into psychedelic. Mesmerizing. $10, 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