Catching up on the holidays — Criteria, Lodgings, Little Brazil,Stephen Sheehan…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:52 pm January 2, 2020

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 28, 2019.

by Tim McMahan,

The holidays are over. Now we enter into the dark, black chasm known as January (though so far, not so bad weather-wise!).

I caught a couple shows over the break. The top getter was Criteria at The Waiting Room Dec. 28 with Little Brazil for what has become a holiday tradition (what’s it been, five years in a row?).

Stephen Pedersen and Co. never sounded better. Killing behind the kit was Mike Sweeney, though I was half-expecting Nate Van Fleet to be up there seeing as he’ll be playing with the band for the upcoming Criteria/Cursive tour the last half of January. Instead, Nate was standing behind me during the set with his jaw wide open watching Sweeney chop down trees one at a time.

Pedersen was in his usual fine voice on what has got to be the hardest songs for anyone to sing. I felt exhausted after every tune. Doing it nightly will be herculean achievement, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Pedersen. The band used the occasion to roll out a couple songs from the new album, which they’ve been performing live for a few years, so yeah, they fit right in with the rest of the catalog.

I’m very interested to see how the Cursive fans react to Criteria on this upcoming tour. No doubt, many already are familiar with the band. But there will be some young Cursive fans who may not be, and Criteria has a completely different vibe than Cursive — it’s like a guy wearing a gold lamé jacket standing next to some dude in a black hoodie. Criteria has always shimmered brightly, coming off like a rallying cry before a battle; whereas Cursive is a darker thing altogether, Cursive is the angry negotiations that go nowhere leading up to the war.

In these dark times we live in, we could use some new Criteria. So what happens if on this tour these guys break big and a nation demands more? Can Pedersen and Co. push back from their dusty office PCs and become the rock stars they were meant to be?

Lodgings Dec. 28, 2019.

I got to the Waiting Room early to catch Lodgings, who put out one of my favorite albums of 2019 (the Steve Albini engineered Water Works). The songs sounded even better live (but don’t all good songs sound better live?). The four-piece with Bryce Hotz out front and backed by a stellar band that includes the legendary Steve Micek on guitar along with Michael Laughlin and Eric Ernst on drums have a grinding indie-rock style that stumbles forward with a throbbing heart. There is something about Hotz’s vocals that remind me of Vedder (more so the phrasing than the vox itself), whereas the music reminds me of classic Grifters (a band that no one seems to remember, and one of my all-time faves).

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, Dec. 28, 2019.

In the middle was Little Brazil, who rolled out a number of new songs, and hopefully are headed to a recording studio in the near future. It was funny looking out over the audience and seeing three past Little Brazil drummers in the crowd — Nate Van Fleet, Matt Bowen and Oliver Morgan — watch as new drummer Austin Elsberry took the reigns, keeping up a fine tradition.

Little Brazil is an enigma to me. They’re one of the city’s most unique bands that’s always deserved as much national attention as any Saddle Creek Records band. And they’re playing some of the best music of their careers right now. Why they haven’t caught fire is a mystery to me.

Stephen Sheehan and his band Dec. 23 at The Waiting Room.

Finally, it was a treat to see Stephen Sheehan and his band play at The Waiting Room Dec. 23. Sheehan once again gathered together some of the area’s best talent to back him on a set of Digital Sex and The World songs, as well as a new original. It got me wondering if maybe he shouldn’t re-record these songs, giving us a modern take on what are considered Omaha classics.

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Lazy-i Best of 2019

Speaking of classics, relive the classics of the year gone by with the  Lazy-i Best of 2019 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: DIIV, Hand Habits, Uh Oh, Sharon Van Etten, Orville Peck, Simon Joyner, Prettiest Eyes, Purple Mountains and lots more.

To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 6, at midnight.

Or listen on Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i” in Spotify and you’ll find the 2019 playlist along with a few from past years, too!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Minne Lussa, Domestica, Staffers tonight; Criteria, Little Brazil, Las Cruxes, Fox (debut) Saturday, Twinsmith, J&M Mowing (supergroup) Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:35 pm December 27, 2019

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2017. The band returns to The Waiting Room this Saturday.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, 2019 is going out like a lion.

There’s a solid triple-bill tonight at Reverb Lounge headlined by Minne Lussa (Matt Rutledge and Co.), Lincoln legends Domestica (ex-Mercy Rule, maybe it’s time I quit referencing that classic ’90s act?) and Silversphere (ex-Lepers) who opens the show at 9 p.m. $8.

Also tonight, The Brothers is hosting a three-band bill with Staffers (Anna McClellan, Noah Kohll, Ryan McKeever, Ameen Wahba), Razors and Sean Pratt & the Sweats. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown it’s Satchel Grande with Omaha Beat Brigade. $10, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is crowded.

Every holiday season there’s always one gig where a classic local band reunites. This year it’s Criteria at The Waiting Room. The band, with a new album about to drop on 15 Passenger Records, is warming up for a tour with Cursive next month. Huge. Opening is Little Brazil and Lodgings (whose 2019 album, Water Works, made my list of 10 favorite albums of the year). $8, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Spanish-language punk band Las Cruxes is playing O’Leaver’s with a new line-up seeing as Landon Hedges and Nate Van Fleet no longer are with the band. Mere Shadows and Towering Rogue open at 10 p.m.

Over at The Barley Street Saturday night it’s the debut of Fox, a new project by Jessica Errett Renner and Marta Fiedler (ex-Blue Bird). Fox opens for Sadie Sanner and Dave Tamkin at 9 p.m. $5.

Sunday night over at Reverb Lounge, it’s one of those holiday shows where folks are in town and just want to jam, which is exactly what J&M Mowing is. The cover band consists of Mike Jaworski (SAVAK, The Cops), Kelly Maxwell and Mike Loftus (both of Sons of…, Shovelhead, 60-Watt Saloon and Hong Jyn Corp.) and Dave Mainelli of Bazile Mills, who is headlining the show. WARNING: This is a 5 p.m. show because these guys are super-old. $8.

Also Sunday night it’s the return of Saddle Creek Records act Twinsmith to Slowdown Jr. The band plays with opener Salt Creek and headliner The Real Zebos. $7, 8 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 — 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Murder by Death, Little Brazil, Those Far Out Arrows, Mouton, Sidney Gish tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:56 pm July 31, 2019

Murder By Death plays tonight at The Slowdown. Photo by Greg Whitaker.

by Tim McMahan,

A handful of shows are happening tonight…

Down at The Slowdown, dark romantic (goth-western?) indie band Murder by Death headlines. Their most recent album, The Other Shore, was released by Bloodshot last year. Their dense, cinematic sound is like an alt-country version of The National, but is much more interesting. Opening is our very own Little Brazil. 8 p.m., $25.

Meanwhile, over at The Sydney in Benson, Those Far Out Arrows headlines a midweek show with cool Arkansas indie band Mouton, who is working with cool St. Joseph, Missouri, label Wee Rock Records (who released one of my favorite albums of 2013 by The Gardenheads). Add to that opener Ben Eisenberger and you’re in for a great night of music for just $5. Starts at 9 p.m.

Finally, there’s a sleeper of a show tonight at Reverb Lounge featuring singer/songwriter Sidney Gish. The Bostonite toured with Mitski briefly last year after her self-released No Dogs Allowed grabbed a 7.7 rating from Pitchfork. She’s got a new two-song single out on Oat Milk Records that’s kicky, upbeat indie rock in the free-wheeling Vampire Weekend vein. Family Reunion opens at 8 p.m. $12.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Little Brazil at Benson Days…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:25 pm July 29, 2019

Little Brazil at Benson Days, July 27, 2019.

by Tim McMahan,

Benson Days is over for another year. The highlights: The Indie (I improved my time by almost two minutes!), the parade, the street fair and, of course, the beer garden where Little Brazil performed Saturday night.

The band hasn’t played live in a quite a while, and used the opportunity to roll out a few new songs — seems like they’re always working on the next record. The set started off a bit wonky sound-wise as it took the sound guy a few songs to figure out the mix (Nate Van Fleet’s overwhelming kick drum actually drowned out the guitars! or at least was the only thing you noticed, initially).

It got balanced out a few songs in, with frontman Landon Hedges’ guitars perfectly melding with exquisite leads from Shawn Cox. Danny Maxwell on bass was rock solid as ever, singing the Conor part during Send the Wolves (Max Trax Records) stand-out track “Making a Mess.”

The new tunes sound like they’re headed in the same short, sweet rock direction heard on Send the Wolves, as if the band is trying to put together a string of singles. Just like the old days.

The biggest surprise was an uptempo (i.e., rocking) cover of Kyle Harvey’s “It Falls Apart,” which the band should record immediately and release as a single. Kyle’s song has been covered before (most notably, an epic version from Omaha now ex patriot Brad Hoshaw off his 2014 album with the Seven Deadlies, Funeral Guns), but never so ironically upbeat. The original is a heart-breaker, as I suppose all Harvey songs are.

I can’t imagine a more perfect night for an outdoor concert, the early evening sunset was blazing overhead while the 50 or so on hand got their brains blown out by some epic Omaha indie rock. Only in Benson.

If you missed the gig, Little Brazil is playing again this Wednesday, opening for Murder by Death down at The Slowdown.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Son, Ambulance, Little Brazil; Creatures of Rabbit (Stephen Sheehan & band) tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:36 pm September 17, 2018

Son, Ambulance at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 14, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Son, Ambulance gets the official #Warrior designation after their show Friday night at Slowdown Jr. Daniel Knapp was involved in a car accident a few hours before the show, which left him bandaged head-to-hand. But the show must go on, as they say on Broadway, and Daniel was behind the keyboards playing with his usual panache.

In fact, everyone played with panache, in front of about 50 people, with a set that leaned heavily on older, familiar tunes. Where did all that new material go that we heard a year or so ago? Who knows. Maybe the band will roll it (or other new stuff) out when they play at O’Leaver’s later this month.

One new one they did play, titled “Fuck Trump,” felt less like a political anthem than a reflection of our current state of affairs, punctuated toward the end with a “Fuck Trump” rallying cry. Joe Knapp’s vocals, while burning with Costello snarls, were blurred in the mix so I couldn’t make out the rest of the song’s lyrics. I’d love to see a lyric sheet — or better yet, a clean recording issued on 7-inch vinyl.

Little Brazil at O’Leaver’s, Sept. 16, 2018.

Last night was the Mike Loftus Benefit Concert at O’Leaver’s. I only had time to drop in for Little Brazil’s set. The band played most of the songs off their latest album, Send the Wolves (2018, Max Trax), with a lethal intensity that eclipsed their CD release show.

Hats off to soundguy Ben VanHoolandt, who diligently adjusted the sound throughout the set to meet the band’s peaks and valleys. A typical problem at Little Brazil shows is that Landon Hedges’ vocals sometimes get lost in the mix. That wasn’t a problem last night. It’s the first time I’ve heard Landon so clearly on stage, and it made all the difference.

The crew also pulled out a couple new ones (which I believe they also played at their CD release show); the first of which features a very cool riff by new guitarist Shawn Cox, (who slayed his solos throughout the performance). LB just released their last record in June and it sounds like they’re already ready to return to the studio. I’d love to see them tour this record before they put out the next one, but we all know how god-awfully taxing touring can be, both to the band’s wallets and families.

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Special show tonight at O’Leaver’s…

Billed as “Creatures of Rabbit,” the gig is actually a warm-up for this weekend’s Lincoln Calling Festival by Stephen Sheehan and his band, which features Dan Crowell, Randy Cotton, Donovan Johnson and Mike Saklar.

Sheehan, as we all know, was the frontman to late-’80s early-’90s post-ambient band Digital Sex. He re-emerged from a performance hiatus with this new band (but with Ben Sieff instead of Saklar on guitar) last August (you can read how and why it happened, here). Catch the set before they head to Lincoln Calling Friday night. Tonight’s show starts at 9:30 with no opener. $5.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Jake’s Block Party (Little Brazil, Leafblower) tonight; Paw, Twin Peaks Saturday; Concert for Change (Dolores Diaz) Sunday…

Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016. The club reunites Sunday for the Concert for Change.

by Tim McMahan,

Every year around this time I head to NYC, and this year is no exception. Which means I’m going to miss some very cool events this weekend (but you’re not).

The first one is tonight along Military Ave. in Benson where Jake’s Just Because We Can Block Party will rise again. The mini-fest features booze and food outdoors for an entrance fee of a mere $5. This year’s lineup:

— Gerardo Meza and the Dead of Night
— Leafblower
— I Forgot to Love My Father
— Little Brazil
— Cult Play

The fun starts at 5 p.m. and runs until midnight.

Saturday former actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Friday Night Lights, Spy Kids) turned Americana performer Shakey Graves headlines at Sokol Auditorium. But more interesting is the opening act: Twin Peaks. Why these two are paired together I cannot say. Tix are $27 Adv./$30 DOS. 8 p.m.

The weekend’s oddest show is the return of Lawrence, Kansas, grunge rock band Paw at The Waiting Room Saturday. I interviewed these guys way back in 1998 (You can read the story here). Paw will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of their album, Dragline, by playing the whole damn thing. It’s all part of the Corn King Music and Arts Fest, which features five additional bands I’ve never heard of. 5 p.m. $12 Adv/$15 DOS.

Then Sunday it’s the Black Votes Matter Concert for Change. The location is 2205 No. 24th St. in the heart of North Omaha. The event, which runs from 2 to 9 p.m., will include Get Out the Vote speakers, workshops, vendor boots, and, of course, live music.

The line-up includes The Dilla Kids, Dana Murray, BXTH, Mesonjixx and Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club — the nine-piece project that includes indie vets Mike Mogis, Matt Maginn, Roger Lewis, Conor Oberst and Dolores Diaz a.k.a. Corina Figueroa. We’re talking Country & Western covers of songs by the likes of Jerry Reed, Skeeter Davis, Randy Newman and more.

This looks to be a free event, or at least no price is listed. More info at the event’s Facebook listing. Good fun and a good cause.

And that about does it. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you sometime after Labor Day!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


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,

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 — 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.


Little Brazil record release, #BFF, Muscle Cousins tonight; M34N STR33T, Lupines Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:49 pm June 1, 2018

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room Dec. 30, 2017. The band celebrates the release of its new album, Send the Wolves, tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan,

Tonight’s the big Little Brazil album release show for Send the Wolves. You read the backstory behind the making of the album right here in The Reader. Kevin also did a story in this week’s Go! section of the OWH, which you can check out here. Pro-Magnum and Eric in Outerspace open at 9 p.m. $8. See you there.

BTW, it’s also #BFF — Benson First Friday. If you’re going to the Little Brazil show, drop by The Little Gallery beforehand and check out the opening reception for Home Sweet Home by Katie B. Temple? Temple, an Omaha artist and educator, is the studio coordinator for the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program at Joslyn Art Museum. Home Sweet Home was inspired by homes in Omaha that aren’t currently occupied.

It’s also the gallery’s third birthday, so you’ll be able to enjoy a slice of cake with your beer or wine. The opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. The Little Gallery is located in the bottom of the Benson Masonic Lodge, just up the street from The Sydney.

Speaking of The Sydney, as part of #BFF the club is hosting a show with Hussies, Gerardo Meza & The Dead and Muscle Cousins, who are celebrating the release of their debut EP, Flex. 10 p.m. and free.

Saturday night M34N STR33T celebrates the release of their new album, Don Quixote’s Lance, at Brothers Lounge. Jaw Knee Vee opens at 9 p.m. $5.

Anonymous Henchmen headline at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday night. The Lupines and Satellite Junction open at 10 p.m. $5.

The B Side in Benson, 6058 Maple (right next to Virtuoso Pizza) kicks off its B Side Story Sessions Saturday night with Andrew Bailie. Each session features a solo artist in a “Storytellers” style two-hour performance. Bailie has played with Jazzwholes and It’s True, among others. Tickets are $10 advance, $15 DOS. Show starts at 9 p.m.

Satchel Grande headlines at The Waiting Room Saturday night with Omaha Beat Brigade. $8, 9 p.m.

Doom Lagoon headlines at Reverb Lounge Saturday with Cvlt Play, Silversphere and Supper. $5, 9 p.m.

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 — 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.



Simon Joyner & The Ghosts, Lupines, Little Brazil listening party tonight; Domestica, House Vacations Saturday; La Luz Monday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm May 25, 2018

Simon Joyner at O’Leaver’s, July 1, 2016. Joyner and his band, The Ghosts, kick off an East Coast tour tonight at Brothers Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

No national touring shows this weekend, except one:

Simon Joyner & The Ghosts kick off their East Coast tour tonight at Brothers Lounge. Simon will be out supporting his latest, Step Into the Earthquake (2017, Shrimper / Ba Da Bing!). It’s been forever since Joyner/Ghosts have played in Omaha and the first time they’ve ever played at Brothers. This one’s stacked, with Lupines and The Wagon Blasters opening. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Lash LaRue & Hired Guns play at The Barley Street with Ragged Company. $5, 9 p.m.

Scott Severin plays tonight at The Down Under Lounge with The Show Is the Rainbow and Wendy Jane Bantam. 9:30 p.m., no cover listed.

And tonight Little Brazil is hosting a listening party at Hi-Fi House for their new album Send the Wolves, which drops June 1. You can read all about the new record here. Wonder if they’ll have any extra copies of the vinyl for sale tonight? I’m told merch will definitely be on hand. The listening party is from 8 to 11 p.m. and is free.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Cami Cavanaugh Rawlings celebrates her 50th birthday at The Down Under with a rock show featuring Domestica, The Ronnys and her band, Bathtub Maria. This one’s free (though Cami’s asking for canned food for charity Completely Kids). Starts at 8 p.m. More info here.

Over at fabulous O’Leaver’s Lincoln act Red Cities headlines with The Ramparts and Dead on Dust. $5, 10 p.m.

House Vacations are having an EP release party for their new one, Pictures of Friends, at Petshop Saturday night. Orca Welles, Mago and Threesome Egos open at 8 p.m. No idea what this will cost you to get in.

Strangely, there’s no shows slated for Sunday, which sucks because we all have Monday off for Memorial Day. Come on, people!

It being a 3-day weekend, I might as well mention what’s happening Monday night. LA surf/psych-rock band La Luz plays at O’Leaver’s. They’ve got a handful of albums out on labels like Hardly Art and Burger Records. Kansas City power pop band The Whiffs open along with Omaha’s Dirt House. This one starts early at 6 p.m. $8.

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 — 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.


Little Brazil: Don’t Call It a Comeback; new album, new line-up, new record label; Modest Mouse tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm May 9, 2018

Members of Little Brazil talked about the new record over slices at Virtuoso Pizza in Benson. From left are Shawn Cox, Landon Hedges and Danny Maxwell. Drummer Nate Van Fleet was missing in action.

by Tim McMahan,

The May issue of The Reader is on the racks and with it, my Over the Edge column which this time features an interview with Little Brazil. The band has a new record, Send the Wolves, that drops June 1 on new label Max Trax Records. Conor Oberst contributes to one of the tracks. The album release show also is June 1. I suggest pre-ordering some tasty blue vinyl from this here website. Look, it’s all covered in the article, which is on news stands now, online right here or, heck, just read it below.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Little Brazil returns with a new album, line-up and record label.

Little Brazil is back with a new album that, in my humble opinion, is their best ever.

I write the above without any explanation assuming you and everyone else knows who Little Brazil was, is and will be. Because if you live in Omaha, listen to indie rock and know even a scintilla about the local music scene it’s virtually impossible to not know about the band and its history over the past 14 years.

With frontman Landon Hedges and bassist Danny Maxwell at its core, Little Brazil was always in the conversation as the “next big thing” during the mid-2000s when Saddle Creek Records bands were international commodities and Omaha was being heralded as the “New Seattle” by the likes of the New York Times, Rolling Stone and every publication that followed college music.

The band hit the ground running in 2004 with its debut LP, You and Me, released by former Omahan Mike Jaworski’s Mt. Fuji Records. It was followed by Tighten the Noose in ’07, also on Mt. Fuji, and Son in 2009 on Kansas City’s Anodyne Records. The line-up for those last two featured drummer Oliver Morgan and guitarist Greg Edds. In addition to becoming a staple on Omaha stages, Little Brazil toured the country both as an opening act and headliner.

What kept people coming back was Little Brazil’s sound — part indie, part emo, part punk and unmistakably Nebraskan. Or as I wrote in my first feature on the band way back in 2004: “What gives Little Brazil a leg up on the plethora of indie competition is Hedges’ love for basic melodies, great guitar lines and his strange, childish warble.” No one sings quite like Landon Hedges, his high croon/wail cuts through the deafening wall of guitar, bass and drums like a 10 million lumen beacon through the densest fog.

Little Brazil was always on the edge of breaking through to the next level, but after a year of touring Son, the band hit a wall in 2010 in the form of another band — Desaparecidos. Hedges held a central role in Conor Oberst’s punk-rock side project that re-emerged from a long hiatus with the Concert for Equality. But Desa wasn’t the only reason for Little Brazil’s slowdown.

“I moved to San Diego in 2010 to be with my wife,” Hedges said over slices of pizza and beer at Virtuoso Pizzeria in downtown Benson alongside Maxwell and new guitarist Shawn Cox. “I got married and DMax got married the same year. There was a member switch and, yeah, Desa got back together.”

At the time, Little Brazil was in the middle of writing its next record with new drummer Matt Bowen and new guitarist Mike Friedman, but when Conor calls, you pick up the phone. Desaparecidos recorded and toured off and on for the next five years. “Little Brazil went from doing five shows a year to two and then one,” Maxwell said.

Then in 2015 after Oberst suffered a number of health-related issues, Desaparecidos came to an end. The following January Little Brazil entered ARC Studios with producer Ben Brodin and laid down the tracks for what became Send the Wolves, the new album that comes out June 1 on Max Trax Records (more on that in a minute).

The end of the last Desaparecidos tour is the subject of the first single off the album, “Making a Mess,” that features Oberst once again singing alongside Hedges. “We were sitting in the studio and I texted Conor, ‘You’re missing out on the dubious honor of singing on a Little Brazil song.’ He knew exactly what song I was talking about because Brodin had told him.”

Oberst walked over to the studio (He lives next door) and laid down his vocals. “It was the last song we wrote for the album, it was very special and it was nice that he sang on it,” Hedges said. The two-and-a-half-minute song carries the same energy as a Desparecidos song, with opening lines: “It feels like you’re making a mess / It seems that you’re walking away from something / That you don’t want to say or admit to.”

It’s not the only song on the album reminiscent of Desaparecidos’ style and energy, but instead of politics, Hedges writes about his life, from meeting his wife (“Wait for You”) to growing up in Benson (the infectious “Motorbike”) to his friendship with Maxwell. “This record is as honest as I’ve been on an album,” Hedges says, “and it makes me nervous to have the lyrics printed on the sleeve.”

The lyric sheet is a first for Little Brazil. Another first is releasing the album on vinyl. The label, Max Trax Records ( was the idea of Marty and Frank Maxwell, Danny Maxwell’s brothers. When Frank passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2016, Marty and Danny launched the label as a tribute to their brother. Today, Max Trax is home to five bands including Little Brazil, with more on the way.

With the new record and new label also comes new personnel for Little Brazil. The aforementioned Shawn Cox has replaced Mike Friedman on lead guitar, while See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet has taken over behind the kit for Matt Bowen. The new line-up already is working on the followup to Send the Wolves, with plans to enter the studio soon.

Hedges and Maxwell will tell you they never had any allusions of making a living just playing music, and now in their mid-30s, they still don’t. “The motivation is just writing and creating new music with the guys,” Hedges said. “I’ll play music ’til the day I die.”

Little Brazil plays with Pro-Magnum and Eric in Outerspace June 1 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $8, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

First published May 2018 in The Reader. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lest we forget that tonight Modest Mouse plays at the Ralston Arena. The band’s last album was Strangers to Ourselves in 2015, which also happens to be the last time they came through Omaha, as headliners to that year’s Maha Music Festival. NYC band Mass Gothic opens. The band’s self-titled debut album came out on Sub Pop in 2016. Tickets are $39.50 to $55. 8 p.m. start time.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.