Maria Taylor tonight; Electroliners EP release show Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 2:25 pm January 3, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, after Sunday it’s back to five-day work weeks for most of us as we try to navigate through this long, cold, dark January. Let’s try to make the best of it, because we’re all stuck here together…

Top show of the weekend is tonight at The Waiting Room where former Nebraskan Maria Taylor returns. Her latest Saddle Creek Records release, Something About Knowing, is an ode to motherhood, or as she said, it was influenced by “the life-changing joy and newfound responsibility of being a first-time parent.” Taylor said she recorded it during her son’s naps and that it’s brimming with “bliss and contentment.” Opening is New Jersey’s PJ Bond, whose Elliott Smith-influenced acoustic style blends well with Taylor’s own laid-back ways. $10, 9 p.m.

If case you forgot (and I know I did), it’s Benson First Friday.

Also tonight, Lincoln indie-dance-rock act Life Is Cool headlines at Slowdown Jr. with The Brigadiers and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. $7, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night, Omaha’s favorite C&W band, The Electroliners, hosts a CD EP release party at The Waiting Room. Opening is none other than Mariachi Zapata (that’s right, a full-blown mariachi band) and The Love Technicians. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile fabulous O’Leaver’s boasts a 3-band bill Saturday night with headliner Timecat, Lodgings and Manic Pixie Dream Girls. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And that about does it for the weekend. If I missed something, put it in the comments area. Have a good weekend and try to stay warm…

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Lazy-i Best of 2013

Lazy-i Best of 2013

We’re still taking entries in the drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2013 compilation CD! The collection includes songs by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Gardenheads, Destruction Unit, Lloyd Cole, Pet Shop Boys, Daft Punk, Jack Bugg and a ton more.  The full track listing is here. Entering has never been easier: To enter either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 6!

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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.

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Maria Taylor’s new album drops today (so does Arcade Fire’s); Scott Severin tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:57 pm October 29, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Lost amidst all the hub-bub about Arcade Fire’s release of Reflektor today is the fact that Maria Taylor’s new one, Something About Knowing, also dropped via Saddle Creek Records. I didn’t receive a promo of this one for whatever reason, so like you I’m checking it out for the first time via the MSN Listening Booth. Very poppy. The reviews so far would have us believe it’s a collection of lullabies and/or reflections on motherhood. Still waiting for the big online pubs to come out with their reviews, but here’s All Music‘s and some smaller pubs’ reactions:

All Music gave it 3.5 stars. From the review: “...retains many of the hazy dream pop undertones that informed her earlier work, while introducing a more streamlined, radio-ready patina…

Best Fit gave it 5 out of 10. From the review: “…While it would be cruel to compare this release to sitting through 40 minutes of a stranger showing you baby pictures, that might be the most potent warning for those unaware of what awaits them here…

Shakefire gave it an A. From the review: “...Highly recommended for those in the mood for a relaxing, uplifting journey…

The Skinny gives it 3 out of 5 stars. From the review: “…the pram in the hall as the enemy of good art. Those with a metaphorical sweet tooth, however, will find much to savour…

Flipside Reviews gives it 8 out of 10. From the review: “Whilst still retaining the dream-pop essence of yore, Taylor has successfully redesigned the template for radio-friendly pop without resorting to cheap electronics or anything more subversive than slipping in a drum-machine here and there.”

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Meanwhile, Reflektor is up on Spotify, where I’ll listen to it this afternoon. Pitchfork when apeshit over it yesterday (a 9. 2, here), which is all it takes these days. Well, that and the mega media blitz the band is currently undergoing, from The Colbert Report to SNL to NPR.

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Scott Severin is doing a set tonight at The Barley Street opening for Michael Wunder and the Uninspired along with John Larsen. Severin grew up in New York City during a time when Lou Reed was very much on the scene. Expect some sort of tribute to Lou by Severin during his set, which makes it more than worth the $5 cover. 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Twinsmith 7-inch to be released on Saddle Creek; new Maria Taylor in WSJ; Pro-Magnum in HN; Kasher in Paste…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:41 pm October 9, 2013
Twinsmith

Twinsmith

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Omaha indie band Twinsmith is seeing its first 7-inch released on none other than Saddle Creek Records Nov. 19. The tracks are “Honestly” b/w “1’30” and “Big Deal.”

“Honestly” premiered today on Minneapolis’ Radio K (right here). “Recorded and produced by Matt Carroll and J.J. Idt at Omaha’s Little Machine Studio, ‘Honestly’ – with its fuzzed-out guitars reminiscent of Blue Album-era Weezer – shows off the evolution of a band still in its infancy.” Congrats Twinsmith, and welcome to the big time.

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Maria Taylor’s next track off upcoming Saddle Creek LP Something About Knowing, titled “Tunnel Vision” premiered today on that great, gray bible of all things financial, The Wall Street Journal (here). The new album hits the streets Oct. 29.

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In other release news, Omaha proto-punkers (not sure what that means, but it sounds important) Pro-Magnum premiered two new songs on HearNebraska.org. available from their Bandcamp page (below).

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An addendum to yesterday’s Tim Kasher reviews round-up: Paste Magazine yesterday gave Adult Film a rousing 8.7 rating, concluding: “If this is a new avenue of self-loathing for Kasher, it’s a welcome change of form from the perhaps more angular output of his screaming past. His gifts for wrangling emotive detours from unlikely sonic realms is his best talent, but he couldn’t do that without his crafty capacity for language, too. Stripped of the angry adornments of his yesteryears, we now may take him at his word.”  Read the full review here.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Orenda Fink’s ‘Nebraska,’ Simon Joyner and Ron Wax tonight; new Maria Taylor…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm September 25, 2013

Orenda Finkby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Just in time for fall, Hell for Breakfast, the blog run by Orenda and Todd Fink, posted a recording of Orenda’s rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” (embedded below). Orenda’s breathy coo on this grim lullaby could entice any pick-up driving sumbitch to go on a killing rampage…in a good way.

You’ll get a chance to hear Orenda sing it live tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

Todd writes, from the HfB blog:

“On Wednesday Orenda will be playing (Springsteen’s) song “Nebraska” along with a bunch of new and old songs.  She’s letting me sit in on the drums. Our neighbor Greg Elsasser (from Capgun Coup, and No, i’m the Pilot) will be bowing the spooky-saw and playing bass. Christine Fink (O’s sister who recently moved here) and Pearl Boyd (Outlaw con Bandana) will be singing backups. And Orenda’s usual partner in crime, Ben Brodin, will be playing his tape delayed moody guitars.”

Also on the bill, the incomparable Simon Joyner (check out his one-on-one Hear Nebraska interview conducted at midtown meat house The French Bulldog) and Chicago’s Circuit des Yeux and duo Spires that in the Sunset Rise (that’s STITSR, which is very similar to TSITR). This one is $7 and starts at 9 p.m. sharp. Get there early.

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Speaking of members of Azure Ray, yesterday Maria Taylor debuted her first song off upcoming Saddle Creek release Something About Knowing called “Up All Night,” and it’s a baby song (of course). The new record comes out Oct. 29.

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Also happening tonight at The Brothers Lounge it’s the return of Lincoln’s Ron Wax (a.k.a. Ron Albertson) along with KC punkers Lazy and our own Video Ranger. $5, 9 p.m. Check out some Ron Wax below…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Notes: RS premieres new Kasher track; Finks’ Hell for Breakfast; New Maria Taylor; the week ahead, No Blood Orphan Friday, Love Language Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:22 pm August 28, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rolling Stone yesterday premiered “Truly Freaking Out,” a track from Tim Kasher’s upcoming Saddle Creek release Adult Film (due Oct. 8). You should check it out.

I like this new Kasher album more than his Monogamy/Bigamy solo records. It seems more thought out and complete, more than a refacing of Good Life or Cursive tunes. Kasher’s thrown in a lot of interesting sonic twists. Like RS said, “Truly Freaking Out” is buoyed by “bloopy bass barrels… and fuzzy, escalating synths…” It’s strangely retro. And the keyboards on “The Willing Cuckold” and “Life and Limbo” also shift the usual Kasher melodies to new places. In fact, the keyboards throughout the record are the difference-maker between this and other Kasher-fronted projects.

Lyrically, pretty dark. Kasher — a self-proclaimed atheist — appears to be coming to grips with his mortality, as well as his loved ones’ impending end. Listen too close and you’re in for a bummer of a ride. Regardless, Adult Film is the most satisfying record Kasher has produced since Help Wanted Nights.

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Todd and Orenda Fink have launched a “lifestyle blog” called Hell for Breakfast. Yes, it contains music (the duo perform as Low Angle Eyes), but it also has other cool stuff like art and video and various writings. The latest posted recording is of the duo covering Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” during last week’s Saddle Creek Shop / Omaha Public Library event. Go to the website to hear and see more…

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Speaking of members of Azure Ray…

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor announced last week that Saddle Creek will be releasing her next solo album Oct. 29, titled Something About Knowing. The record was influenced by “the life-changing joy and newfound responsibility of being a first-time parent.” Maria said she recorded it during her son’s naps and its brimming with “bliss and contentment.” Should be quite a contrast to Kasher’s record, eh? Ol‘ Mike Mogis was apparently behind the knobs on this one, and Andy LeMaster (Hey, whatever happened to Now It’s Overhead?) mixed two songs.

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Since I’ll be out the rest of the week, here are the highlights from the music calendar for the balance of the week and weekend.

Tonight (Aug. 28) Lincoln punk band Tie These Hands headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. with Eli Mardock and Saltwater Sanctuary. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight (Aug. 28) Columbus Ohio band Emily and the Complexes play at The Sydney with Saturn Moth. It’s probably $5 and probably starts around 10.

Thursday (Aug. 29) Under Water Dream Machine plays at The Barley Street with Love Technicians and Portland act There Is No Mountain. $5, 9 p.m. While I’m thinking about it, there’s only 12 days left in the Bret Vovk/Nick Carl Kickstarter campaign, and they’re still a few hundred dollars from their target. Help these brothers out

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

Friday night (Aug. 30) it’s the return of No Blood Orphan to O’Leaver’s. Consider it a reunion show, with all five classic No Blood Orphan members (Bartolomei, Cox, Esterbrooks, Phillips, Saklar) returning for one special performance. In fact, Mike Saklar emailed to say that in addition to No Blood Orphan, there will be “mini-sets” by: Stephen Bartolomei (Mayday, McCarthy Trenching); Chris Machmuller (So So Sailors, Ladyfinger); McCarthy Trenching (So So Sailors, Mal Madrigal); Lincoln Dickison (Chromafrost); Cricket Kirk/Custom Catacombs (Dirty Fluorescents) and more. Available at the show will be a new clear vinyl 7″ and a dual-EP CD titled Top Shelf and Lost Tricks. This one will be special $5, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday night (Sept. 1) there’s a pretty sweet show going on at O’Leaver’s — Merge Records band The Love Language headlines a show with Pony Wars and No, I’m the Pilot. It’s listed as a 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $7 and are actually being presold right here. A ticketed, early show at O’Leaver’s? Will wonders never cease… You’ve got Monday off, so there’s no excuses for missing this one.

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Have a happy Labor Day. Say goodbye to summer…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Omaha Girls Rock! goes camping and gets IRS-legit; Maria Taylor goes momma; Jenny Lewis goes solo and NE Pop Fest follows through…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:51 pm July 24, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Following up on a column from earlier this year, Omaha Girls Rock! announced yesterday that its second annual Rock Camp for Girls will take place the week of July 30. “OGR will provide 50 girls ages 8-18 with a chance to unleash their inner rock stars and to learn songwriting, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and vocals,” sayeth the OGR press release.

The week-long day camp, hosted by the College of St. Mary, includes five days of instrument instruction, band practice, guest performances, and “enrichment workshops.”

The girls are supported by trained, on-site female volunteers, including local and national teachers, social workers, professionals, and musicians. Campers learn instruments, form bands, and write their own original songs. The week culminates in a performance at the Slowdown, Omaha’s premier rock club, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. After camp, girls will receive a CD including a recording of their original songs mixed and mastered by a professional sound engineer.

In other OGR news, the organization recently was designated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organizations by the IRS. That means your donations to OGR can be deducted from your taxes. So what are you waiting for? To donate, go to omahagirlsrock.com.

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While I’m catching up on my in-box , here’s a heart-warming little story from Alabama’s ai.com where Maria Taylor talks about what it’s like being a mom after having her first baby in May. So how is she going to tour that upcoming Azure Ray album with a baby in tow? “Luckily, my mom has offered to be tour nanny,” Taylor said in the article. “We’ll have a separate car for me, my mom and the baby, and we’ll see how he is touring. We’ll just take it as it comes, and figure it out.”

We already knew about the new Azure Ray album coming out on Saddle Creek Sept. 4, but Taylor also talked about a new duo she’s formed with producer Andy LeMaster of Now It’s Overhead. “I think the record is going to be pretty eclectic in its sound, with a pop sensibility and guy-girl harmonies,” Taylor said in the article. “We have about nine songs, and the hardest part is finishing the lyrics. We’re used to writing by ourselves.”

No word on who’s releasing the debut of this unnamed Taylor/LeMaster project, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Saddle Creek had been mentioned in the discussion…

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In “where are they now” news, SPIN reports that Jenny Lewis is working on a B-side collection of Rilo Kiley tracks as well as a follow-up to her Acid Tongue solo album. She’s also been composing the score and serving as music supervisor for a new movie called Very Good Girls.

I’ve gotten my heart broken, and fallen in love, and moved out my shitty rent-controlled apartment, and lost my father, and tried to rebuild my relationship with my mother,” she said in the article. “All of these things have definitely popped up in my songs and I want to write something that’s real that people can feel.”

Check out the fan-made video for new song “Head Under Water,” performed with he old partners in crime, The Watson Twins.

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Finally, the Nebraska Pop Festival, which took place in Benson a couple weeks ago, presented a check July 17 for $1,630 to Arts For All Executive Director Judy Mallory, according to a press release. Last year NE Pop Fest raised $711 for the AFA. Kudos to festival promoter Chris Beiermann for following through.

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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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Live Review: Maria Taylor, Big Harp; Cold War Kids tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:34 pm October 31, 2011
Maria Taylor at The Slowdown, Oct. 30, 2011.

Maria Taylor at The Slowdown, Oct. 30, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Notes from last night’s Maria Taylor/Big Harp show at The Slowdown…

Big Harp at The Slowdown, 10/30/11.

Big Harp at The Slowdown, 10/30/11.

Big Harp continues to be a special project. Chris Senseney has a unique, memorable voice. When it reaches way down low it sounds like a bull frog trying to seduce a butterfly, all deep and buttery. That voice stands slouched at the center of Big Harp. It’s the band’s defining statement, more so than the songs, which are good in a neo-traditional Townes Van Zandt sort of way — nice, pleasant tunes, bluesy and fun. And more so than the instrumentation, which is better than good. Senseney always was one of the area’s best guitarists as well as a fine keyboard player (which he proved again last night). But it’s that voice that stands out; especially on stage. You can hear it in fits and starts on the record, but on stage, it’s startling, the kind of voice people discover and never forget.

On the other hand, I always get the sense that Maria Taylor is holding back oh so slightly on stage and in recordings, like a woman on the verge of a “Communication Breakdown.” Yeah, that’s a weird reference to Zep. Because despite being known for her sleepy, Sunday-morning folk ballads, Taylor can rock. Really. She did last night during “Xanax” (from 11:11) propelled by her new brother-in-law, Taylor Hollingsworth, whose band Dead Fingers opened last night’s show. For those five minutes or so during “Xanax,” Taylor unclenched the reigns on her voice, on her band, and let go. I wish she’d do that more often. The rest of the set was the usual collection of pleasant Maria tunes, laid back but restrained, as if she’s hiding something just below the surface. If she was, the smallish crowd (especially for a “big stage” show) didn’t mind at all.

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Two big shows tonight, the biggest of which is Cold War Kids at The Slowdown with Young Man. CWK is touring on Mine Is Yours, released in January by V2/Interscope, the record sounds like an obvious stab at the mainstream. $18, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, it’s a night of Americana at The Waiting Room with Joshua James, HoneyHoney and Levi Lowrey. I’m told by a certain person who works at Homer’s that “HoneyHoney is about to explode.” We’ll see. The band is playing a free in-store at Homer’s today at 6 p.m. Tonight’s gig at TWR is $10, 8 p.m.

Neither show has been promoted as a costume thing, so hand out the candy then head to the club.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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More Maria Taylor: Was ‘Bad Idea?’ a bad idea? Critics disagree; Phantogram tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm October 27, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

An addendum to yesterday’s Maria Taylor interview… A Lazy-i reader commented that s/he wasn’t aware that Taylor’s new album, Overlook, was so divisive. As I told Taylor during the interview, I’ve never seen such polarity from review to review for an album. Or for that matter, for a specific song.

The song in question is “Bad Idea?” a charming little acoustic guitar rag in the middle of the album that features Taylor cooing the line, “What if I turned 49 / With no husband in mind / Well I guess that ‘s just a glitch in my design.” It’s a summertime back-porch lullaby with an authentic old-time feel, very much in the same vein as “Speak Easy,” from 11:11. But judging from the reviews, you’d think Taylor was singing something as controversial as a protest song.

For example, Triangle Music blogspot loved the track, saying in its review: “In fact ‘Bad Idea’ is so much better than the rest of Overlook it makes me wonder why Taylor didn’t include more purely Americana songs on the album.” Americana?

Meanwhile, our old friends at PopMatters.com would love to see the song buried for all eternity. From their review: “The best track on the record is followed by the worst track on the album. ‘Bad Idea?’ is an annoying grassroots ripoff, with a bored Taylor singing in such a way as if to teach you a lesson. You can just picture her wagging finger. The chorus is awful and will stay in your head for weeks and weeks until you’d rather pierce your eye just to switch focus.

I read the reviews to Taylor during our interview, and we both laughed. “That’s why I don’t usually read reviews,” she said. “I don’t trust them, they’re so contradictory. I’m always wondering if this person (writing it) is a musician. Why would I trust them over what friends think? It doesn’t influence the way I do things at all. It doesn’t make a difference.”

Decide for yourself. Download the track for free here at Paste.com. My take: The song clearly stands out on the record, and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your ability to appreciate this style of music. I asked Taylor if she ever considered doing an entire album of traditional-style ballads that would mix remakes of old standards with new material done in a similar style.

She said the thought has crossed her mind. “That song was done entirely live,” she said. “I had dad on the mandolin, my brother on banjo, two friends on guitars, a standup bass. We all stood in a circle and sung it live. It was so much fun and it only took an hour. I’ve thought of doing a whole record of songs in that vein, live, with those kinds of instruments and touring in seated theaters with everyone playing in a circle.”

Sounds like a good time to me, but we won’t be seeing that Sunday night at Slowdown when Taylor and her band (and family) perform with another act that has a sort-of old-time feel, Big Harp. Get your tickets now

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Phantogram is a self-proclaimed “psych pop” duo from Saratoga Springs, New York, whose full-length debut, Eyelid Movies, was released on Barsuk in 2010.  Pitchfork gave the disc a 7.5 (here), calling it “a sumptuous, seductive record, easy to let fall into the background, sure, but easier still to fall into.” Check out the opening track, “Mouthful of Diamonds,” below:

See how the song sounds played live, when Phantogram plays tonight at The Waiting Room with Reptar. $14, 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 347: Maria Taylor talks about being in a family way, critics and her new album; Drive By Truckers tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm October 26, 2011

Maria Taylor
Column 347: Baby on Board: Maria Taylor’s Family Plan

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Singer/songwriter Maria Taylor is having a baby.

She dropped that bomb during an interview last week with the Arizona State University student newspaper, The State Press. And although the Saddle Creek Records chanteuse, who is also half of the duo of Azure Ray, is on a tour with a new solo album, I couldn’t think of a more important topic of discussion.

“Well, I can tell you that I met my boyfriend at a show in Washington, D.C.,” Taylor said while lying down in the tour van before her show Monday night in Portland. “He’s the first non-musician I’ve ever dated. He’s a Chief of Staff for a politician — I’m not going to tell you who.”

The reason for keeping his anonymity: “I haven’t asked him if he wants me to talk about it,” Taylor said. “He’s a really wonderful person. If I’m going to move to Washington, D.C., he must be a wonderful person. I remember driving into (Washington) before I met him, I was sitting in back-to-back traffic as always and I said, ‘Watch me meet someone from here and have to move to this f***ing town.'”

She went on to say Washington isn’t that bad. In fact, the more she experiences its history, museums and parks, the more she likes it. So the plan is to move to Washington, have the baby and then start touring again with baby in tow. “And my mom will be tour nanny,” Taylor said. “She just retired and wants to see the country. I plan on working on an Azure Ray record before having the baby to get as much done as we can. So the Azure Ray tour will be the first baby tour.”

They say having a baby changes everything, but does that include the way you write music? “I feel like it will,” Taylor said. “I draw from what’s happening in my life when I write. I imagine my disposition will be different, and it will even affect the sound as well as the lyrics.”

Taylor, both as a solo artist and in Azure Ray, has defined her music with deeply personal love songs, a style that seems almost passé as she’s about to enter a different stage in life, but she’s still not sure if she’ll leave love songs behind. “I haven’t written a song since I found out I was pregnant,” she said. “I might feel like focusing on different aspects of life, but what if I’m not good at that? I need to start writing again, but right now I’m real sick and on tour, and I don’t write when I’m on tour. I’ve been throwing up a lot. I haven’t felt creative.”

She said she didn’t think she would be sick just three months into the pregnancy — her due date is April 30 (“A Taurus,” she adds), and she won’t find out if it’s a boy or girl until after the tour.

“I was told I would feel amazing, but my body just shuts down at 9 p.m. and I get shaky and go to bed and get sick again” she said. “I can’t drink and I have social anxiety. It’s not the same experience to tour pregnant, but I feel like I’m conquering my fears. I’m talking to people every night and battling sickness.

“The cool thing is that I feel like the baby has all of its organs and just grows and gets bigger,” she added. “I can’t help thinking that I’m teaching it rhythms. It feels the vibrations. We really rock out, so I think it’s going to be a drummer or bass player.”

Maria Taylor, Overlook (Saddle Creek Records, 2011)

Maria Taylor, Overlook (Saddle Creek Records, 2011)

With songs like guitar-driven grinder “Matador” and strobing, soaring album opener “Masterplan,” Overlook, Taylor’s new album released this past August, may be her most diverse collection to date. The album balances the rock with Taylor’s usual delicate, reflective material, like the dreamy “Happenstance,” and somber “This Could Take a Lifetime.” Critical response also has been rather diverse — reviewers either love it or say the record sounds too rushed.

“I feel like I shot myself in the foot in the press release,” Taylor said, laughing. “I said I locked myself in a room and wrote it in two weeks. I feel like (critics) think I didn’t spend enough time and that it was thrown together. I could have written all my records that way. If I said I’d spent two years on it, they would say it was my best record yet. People who loved it probably didn’t read the press release.”

Overlook marks a return to Saddle Creek after Taylor strayed to Nettwerk to release 2009’s Ladyluck. She said the label switch was merely testing different waters. “There are pros and cons about each label,” she said. “Nettwerk put a lot of money into it, but we didn’t make it back, so I didn’t make money. With Saddle Creek, you can recoup and make money, and that’s hard to do these days. I don’t want to have to wait tables or go back to school.”

For now the biggest question is how Taylor will balance her career and motherhood. While her life is about to change forever, she said her new arrival won’t keep her from making music.

“When I’m on stage that one hour, I’m 100 percent happy,” she said. “I have social anxiety, but I feel like I’m connecting with people, and singing is my favorite thing to do in the world, especially on stage with my friends and family. I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life not doing that. I need that.”

Maria Taylor plays with Big Harp and Dead Fingers Sunday, Oct. 30, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St.. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 402.345.7569 or visit theshowdown.com.

* * *’

I admit to not being terribly familiar with Drive By Truckers, though last weekend I was walking around Homer’s and heard part of their latest album, Go-Go Boots, over the store’s sound system and liked what I heard. The band is playing tonight at Slowdown with Those Darlins. $25, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Kyle Harvey opens a show at The Waiting Room for Boulder-based folk rocker Gregory Alan Isakov. South of Lincoln also is on the bill. $10, 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 346: Magnet Magazine is back; Maria Taylor is expecting; Live Review: Milagres; Take Cover, Major Games (ex-Zoom) tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:56 pm October 20, 2011

Column 346: Re-Magnetized: The Return of Magnet Magazine

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

About three or so years ago, in what was a reflection not only of the dwindling music industry but the downward spiral of the print magazine world, I received what I thought was the final issue of Magnet magazine.

What is MagnetMagnet was the quarterly bible of the indie music world, a slacker’s guidepost to everything cool, a critical lighthouse in a sea of audio mediocrity. Every issue was a snapshot of what was hot and happening right now in indie music. Each issue launched with an in-depth cover story that led into smaller profiles on bands and musicians just getting noticed, updates on those that have been around awhile, and, of course, pages and pages of reviews of records that you hadn’t heard before, all capped off with an essay by acerbic scribe Phil Sheridan, who wrote from a vantage point every one of us could recognize.

Magnet launched in 1993, and I have no idea how I found my first issue, which I still have, stuffed in a box somewhere in my attic (I probably bought it at Homer’s). It joined an already crowded magazine rack that included hip, cool, but physically unreadable (because of its design) Raygun, the slick and concise Option, and the other bible of indie, Alternative Press. Of those three, only A.P. is still around. Magnet was the best of the bunch, the most in-the-know and the most critically important and accurate.

For a band to be featured in Magnet, well, that was a big deal, especially if it was an Omaha band. And to be reviewed in Magnet was sort of an honor. Remember, this was before the prominence of the internet (Yes, kiddos, there was a time before Pitchfork, when people actually read these things called magazines).

We all knew, for example, that Saddle Creek Records was onto something when Magnet began to take notice.

Magnet was one of the first magazines to do a Bright Eyes feature,” said Saddle Creek Records executive Robb Nansel. “I remember I was working my ‘real’ job when Magnet called me at work to set up the photo shoot for that article (right around the release of Letting Off the Happiness (in 1998)). There was a lot going on for the label at that time, and it wasn’t long after that phone call that I put in my resignation.”

Reviews and features about other Saddle Creek artists soon followed in Magnet, and shortly after that, the rest of the world began to take notice of what was going on in Omaha. Those reviews weren’t always terribly positive. In fact, Magnet didn’t offer a rating system, just narrative and descriptions, which oftentimes left you wondering if the writer liked the album or not. But that was part of the appeal (to me, anyway) — Magnet left it up to you do decipher.

Anyway, about three years ago, new issues of Magnet quit arriving at my door. No real explanation was given but I knew the magazine hadn’t folded. In fact, their website — magnetmagazine.com — continued to be updated. After a year went by, however, I figured I’d seen the last of the printed version.

And then out of the blue last Friday there it was, peeking out of my mailbox, a fresh new issue of Magnet featuring those shaggy boys from Wilco on the cover — same design, same slick perfect-bound publication, as if it had never gone away.

Magnet Editor-in-Chief Eric T. Miller explained it all on page 4. It turned out that the declining music and publishing industry had finally caught up with them. The publication took a short hiatus to redesign the Magnet website. That hiatus became extended when injuries sustained by the publication’s art director — Miller’ wife — put a wrench in overall operations. Things looked bleak as to the magazine’s return, and then out of the blue, Miller ran into Alex Mulcahy, an old friend whose company, Red Flag Media, publishes metal magazine Decibel. And the next thing you know, Magnet was back, but this time as a monthly instead of a quarterly.

There are a few other changes. The publication seems thinner and some sections are missing along with some writers, but the profiles are there (including stories on Neon Indian, Tommy Keene, Spank Rock, Beauty Pill, Mac McCaughan, Das Racist amd Thundercat), a Q&A with Blondie’s Debbie Harry, and a lengthy cover story with Wilco. And of course, those reviews. Though now each review also includes a 10-star rating, which takes away a lot of the mystery. But I guess in this era when bands live and die by a Pitchfork 10-point rating system, adjustments had to be made, even though ratings dissuade people from reading the actual reviews.

My favorite part is the return of Phil Sheridan’s “Back Page” column, which starts off: “We know what you’re thinking, and it’s wrong, as usual: Now that 1995 is back, here comes Magnet to cover the bands it already covered to death. Literally.”

So true, Phil, so true. All’s I know is that Magnet is back, and hopefully this time it’s for good. Because in an age when we’re all tethered to electronic gizmos that put every conceivable piece of information at our fingertips — including the music that we listen to — it’s nice to be able to turn off the screen, unplug the electronic world, pull back the cover of something tangible that we can hold in our hands — whether it’s a book, or a copy of The Reader, or an issue of Magnet — and just read.

And, Robb Nansel put it, “Magnet exposed us to tons of great music when we were growing up, and I am definitely happy to see them carrying on.”

So am I.

* * *

At the end of her interview with Arizona State University’s State Press, Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray, Bright Eyes and her own solo fame) dropped this little unexpected tidbit:

State Press: What is the first thing you are going to do for yourself once your tour is over?

Maria Taylor: Well, the first thing I am going to do is find out if I am having a boy or a girl! I haven’t really told any of the press yet, so why not? I can tell people now, you know, it’s been three months. I feel like, I might have to sit down sometimes during the set so I might have to explain anyway. This is going to be a different tour, very different. No drinking, I’m just tired and kind of sick. But I just decided, “No, I gotta do this, this is what I do. I gotta go on tour.” But now I’m kind of like, “Oh my god, did I take on too much?” It’s going to be kind of hard. So, literally the day after the tour I’m going to the doctor to find out if it’s a boy or girl. Ah, crazy!

There were no obvious follow-up questions asked (read the whole interview here). Ask them yourself when Maria comes to town for a show at The Slowdown Oct. 30.  Congratulations, Maria!

* * *

Milagres at The Waiting Room, Oct. 19, 2011.

Milagres at The Waiting Room, Oct. 19, 2011.

Counting myself and the opening band, there was probably around 20 people on hand for last night’s Milagres show at The Waiting Room — disappointing, but is anyone surprised?

The band isn’t exactly a household name. They obviously don’t get any radio play. The show didn’t get any press other than blog mentions (You call that “press”?). And it was a Wednesday night, with an opener — South of Lincoln — that’s new to the scene. So why did I think anyone would be there?

Milagres, by the way, was fantastic — a real find for anyone into the whole Beach House/Arcade Fire indie dream-rock sound. The Brooklyn five-piece, which included two keyboards, was honed but angelic, floating just beneath frontman Kyle Wilson’s brassy, sometimes falsetto vocals. I sat back and wondered which song they’ll perform during their inevitable appearance on Letterman or Kimmel (My pick would be the echoing, endless frontier melody of “Halfway,” the opening track to their latest release, Glowing Mouth, which you should track down and buy).

Despite the sparce crowd, the band was charming and gracious, playing a number of songs from the new album during their 45+ minute set, sprinkling in heartfelt compliments about Omaha along the way. “This is our first time in Omaha; hopefully it won’t be the last.”

There’s a lot of very good under-the-wire acts coming through over the next couple of weeks; including Future Islands (Wednesday, Nov. 2 at TWR), Peter Wolf Crier (Tuesday, Oct. 25 at TWR) and A.A. Bondy (Nov. 4 at TWR). Any of these bands, along with Milagres, would have been a coup for something like the MAHA Festival; all are bands I would seek out if I was going to SXSW next spring. Terrific bands with terrific albums. But I’m afraid no one is going to show up for these shows, either.

What’s the answer? The Reader no longer covers every good indie band that comes through town. Blame it on page count. Blame it on editorial direction. The same is probably true at the other local publications that cover music.

How does the word get out to the masses that they’re missing something that’s phenomenal, that we’re lucky to even get here? I don’t know. Lazy-i ain’t the answer. Maybe there isn’t an answer?

* * *

Tonight Hear Nebraska brings Take Cover to The Slowdown. The program’s concept is simple: Nebraska musicians take turns covering a song by another Nebraska musician of their choice. Among the performers on this mostly solo acoustic night of music: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Eli Mardock, The Lepers, Anniversaire, Justin Lamoureux and Mitch Gettman along with a bunch of Lincoln performers playing songs by acts including Neva Dinova, Bright Eyes, Matthew Sweet and It’s True. The show starts at 8 and winds up around 1 a.m. (or later). Your $5 cover gets you in and goes to support Hear Nebraska. Seriously, you should go. More info here.

Also tonight, Lawrence band Major Games plays at The Barley Street Tavern. Major Games is a new project by Jeremy Sidener, a former member of classic ’90s bands Zoom and Panel Donor as well as Arthur Dodge and Danny Pound Band. Major Games carries on the ’90s noise-rock tradition (check out a track on the band’s Bandcamp page). Opening is Spell Talk and third TBA band. $5, 9 p.m.

And in addition to that, Peace of Shit returns to the O’Leaver’s stage tonight with Duluth band Low Forms, described as “Pete Biasi’s (Falcon Crest, Total Fucking Blood, Signal to Trust, tons of other shit) new band. Husker Du/Wipers style punk rock.” $5, 9:30 p.m. More info here.

And finally, tonight at The Brothers Lounge, it’s Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen with Sam Locke-Ward & the Boo-Hoos and Well-Aimed Arrows. $5, 10 p.m. More info here.

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i