Review: Matthew Sweet, Tomorrow Forever; Lincoln Calling adds more bands (Pile, El Ten Eleven, Palehound)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm July 6, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Matthew Sweet, Tomorrow Forever (2017, Honeycomb Hideout)

What goes into writing a “hit song,” a song people will sing along to or remember or select for a play list or mix tape? It’s something I’ll have to ask Matthew Sweet if I ever get a chance, but I have an idea how he’ll answer: “I don’t know. If I knew, I’d have written more hit songs.”

“Come Correct,” the 13th track on his new double album Tomorrow Forever (2017, Honeycomb Hideout) and the last song on Side 3 has all the makings of a hit song — the crack rhythm track, chop guitar, a simple melody, sing-along lyrics. It’s a great song that stood out the first time I listened to the record. You can imagine it playing on your favorite FM channel… 20 years ago, back when there was such things as a hit record.

It’s not the only good song on the album. Tomorrow Forever is a return to form for Sweet and maybe his most accessible collection since 100% Fun or that Japanese “thank you” record, 2003’s Kimi Ga Suki. Old time fans will want to know how it compares to Sweet’s magnum opus, 1991’s Girlfriend. It holds its own, though it’s not quite as accessible or an obvious classic (only time will tell).

If you’re not familiar with Sweet’s sound, it’s sort of a power-pop amalgam of The Byrds with Big Star with Teenage Fanclub with The Posies with Sweet’s unique high-end, nasal voice. You could say there’s a ’90s flair to the music. His style hasn’t changed much since Girlfriend, but then again, why should it?

The only thing holding this album back is the lyrics, which too often are overtly obtuse or speculative — they’re too spacey and ungrounded, as if trying to be psychedelic. On the other hand, almost every song on Girlfriend was memorable thanks to lyrics that something anyone could identify with — love songs loaded with pain and/or redemption. “Come Correct” of this new one scores because the lyrics are obvious and real: “Don’t dance don’t dance / Get your head out of the sand / I don’t want to be in anybody’s band.”

The same holds true for tracks like “You Knew Me,” “Carol” and “Country Girl.”  But not so much for all those time travel/inter-dimensional songs, like opening track “Trick,” or “Entangled” and “Hello,” which have a ephemeral, hippy-ish quality wherein afterward you wonder what Sweet was trying to say (if you remember the lyrics at all).

In some of his past albums (and live performances) Sweet’s guitar noodling veered dangerously close to jam territory. Not so here, where the clear, simple arrangements keep the songs focused, as if Sweet was trying to write as many hit songs as possible. There’s more than a few on Tomorrow Forever, which is more than you’ll hear on most albums reviewed in Pitchfork. Rating: Yes

I only hope Sweet uses the same restraint when he plays The Waiting Room this weekend. The last couple times I saw him perform he and his band were more focused on rocking than trying to capture the subtleties of his best songs.

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As if Lincoln Calling wasn’t big enough, this morning they announced another wave of 67 bands for the festival that runs Sept. 28-30 in Lincoln (duh), including Pile, El Ten Eleven, Mount Moriah, Umm, See Through Dresses and Digital Leather. They’re also now selling day passes that run from $29 to $34. 3-day festival passes are $59. Find out more at lincolncalling.com.

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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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Wilder Maker is Saddle Creek’s second ‘Document’; Lincoln Calling announces 2017 line-up today…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:41 pm May 4, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Wilder Maker, “New Streets” b/w “Only Child” (2017, Saddle Creek)

First of all, I’m a sucker for record clubs. I belonged to the Sub Pop Singles club for years; I joined Matador’s record club for a short while, and now Saddle Creek is doing its version of a record club with its Document series, and so far, they’re two for two.

Says Saddle Creek: “The Document Series is comprised of an exclusive record featuring unreleased music from artists outside of Saddle Creek’s roster, along with a specially curated zine highlighting the artist’s hometown / music scene.

Brooklyn five-piece Wilder Maker has been around since 2012. Led by Gabriel Birnbaum, this is solid, tuneful songwriting (as you’ll hear when you listen to the  track, below). Call it pop indie, it has more in common with ’70s FM rock than anything on Sirius XMU, where it’s bound to get some airplay.

They’re apparently pals with Sam Evian, who recorded the tracks at his Figure 8 studio, which might explain the Saddle Creek connection, as Evian released his last album on Saddle Creek last year.

As is probably the intent, after buying the preorder, I checked out Wilder Maker’s last release, 2015’s Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire, Vol. III on Bandcamp, a sleepy six-song EP which bears little resemblance to the Saddle Creek single but is interesting in its own (perhaps too) laid-back way.

In addition to being more upbeat than the EP, the single features Katie Von Schleicher on lead vocals rather than Birnmaum’s growl-y voice. And so, Saddle Creek can add another to their list of strong female-fronted releases that includes Hop Along and break-out act Big Thief.

I’m kind of liking this one-at-a time (actually two-at-a-time) approach to physical releases. Would I like a full-length by Wilder Maker? Sure, if all the tracks were this good. I’m not sure if singles make economic sense for the label or the band (these singles clubs have a way of evaporating over time) but for me, good things come in small packages, sometimes.

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I have seen the initial line-up announcement for this year’s Lincoln Calling festival, which is slated for Sept. 28-30. You will be seeing it, too, sometime today, whenever Hear Nebraska decides to release it (probably any moment now). It is impressive. There are at least four Maha-quality headliners and a plethora of second-tier indie stars. Keep your eyes peeled to lincolncalling.com. Or just watch your social media feeds…

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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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